Even after his nomination to the Supreme Court, the president's nominee, John Roberts, remains a mystery. By all accounts, he's a wonderful person and a first-rate legal mind. But he has been a judge for only two years, and his public record is thin. In order to determine what kind of justice he will be, it helps to understand the philosophical camps that have shaped modern constitutional theory. Over the past century, justices have come in four varieties. Majoritarians prefer to uphold the decisions of other branches of government unless those decisions clearly violate the Constitution.
'We did not want a fight," Ralph Neas was saying to a reporter on his cell phone. "However, if he picks a fight, we are ready." It was the evening of July 19, less than an hour before word leaked that George W. Bush would nominate John Roberts to the Supreme Court. Neas was sitting in the green room at MSNBC, waiting for his appearance on "Hardball." It was the first of three TV studios he would blaze through in the next four hours as a go-to pundit on the nomination.
On a recent morning in Washington, Manuel Miranda was plotting conservative strategy for the upcoming Supreme Court nomination wars from the cluttered living room of his Capitol Hill townhouse. He sat crammed behind a small desk by the window, cordless phone to his ear, leading a conference call of some 50 grassroots Republican activists across the country. These were generally hardcore, pro-life conservatives, people dead-set against allowing George W.
The July 7 New York Times has an op-ed hashing out what the Catholic Church thinks of all things Darwinian. The author, Christoph Schonborn, is a preeminent Vatican scholar and, incidentally, one of the cardinals who was favored for the papacy after John Paul II died. He's also, as I've previously pointed out, considered something of a liberal. Which is why it's strange to see Schonborn get so prickly about claims of the Church's "supposed acceptance" of evolution.
Ideas--the idea of ideas, anyway--have always held a lofty place in our political culture. But perhaps never before have they been imbued with such power as at this particular moment. Since last November, conservatives have been braying about their victory in the war of ideas, often with a whiff of Marxian assurance. "Conservatism is the ideology of the future," gloated Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman.
If last week's sagging poll numbers on Iraq marked the return of the war as a political issue, then Democrats found themselves playing the role of Wal-Mart greeters, gamely ushering it through the door. This month, several House Democrats have initiated resolutions calling on the White House to develop an exit strategy for Iraq. Elsewhere in the Capitol--or, more precisely, in the basement below it--Michigan Representative John Conyers recently staged a mock hearing on the war.
"That's him over there." It's just after noon on the day before delegates to the College Republican National Committee (CRNC) are scheduled to elect a new chairman, and campaign workers for Michael Davidson have finally spotted his opponent, the current CRNC treasurer Paul Gourley. The College Republicans have taken over a floor of the Crystal Gateway Marriot in Arlington, Virginia, clogging hallways and conference rooms with professional-quality campaign paraphernalia and well-coiffed twentysomethings in business attire.
Last Tuesday, The Truth About Hillary, a lurid new tale of Clintonian conniving, appeared, and not since Monica has the right frothed so indignantly about Hillary. Strangely, they're frothing in her favor. Writing in The New York Post, John Podhoretz called Ed Klein's biography "one of the most sordid volumes [he's] ever waded through." The New York Sun editorialized that the book oozed "off-putting smarminess" and that it "debases politics and government and turns the talk to genitalia." Gone, too, were the softball questions conservative publications usually lob at such attack dogs.
In a recent report, Amnesty International referred to the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo as "the gulag of our time." The term--a Russian abbreviation for Glavnoe Upravlenie Lagerei, or Main Camp Administration--refers to the network of Soviet labor camps established during Stalin's rule that continued, in a different form, for much of the Soviet Union's history. During a press conference on Tuesday, President Bush rejected the charge as "absurd." Amnesty has defended its use of the term.
The door closes behind me. A short hallway I don't resist, as I did not decline your invitation an hour ago. It came quite unexpectedly amid the smoke, the worn-out armchairs, the endless litanies of gain and loss. It came with welcome urgency and added to my confusion, which accompanies me, step by step, as if it were hard to trust its outstretched arms, the region of light, the swaying of a silver fir in the arctic. As if thousands of years must pass before here, in this very room, simple but far from slight, it would be possible to believe in you again.