Monday, April 12, 2010

No liberal Scalia!

Okay, so it's not the most popular meme anymore. But you do hear liberals wishing for such a thing from time to time. I think it is misguided. Oh, I understand from whence it comes, but Scalia has not really been an asset for conservatives on the court. They certainly like Scalia, but one never hears about Scalia winning over moderate and liberal members of the Court to a certain decision, or doing anything aside from issuing scathing dissents. I have read a number of books about the Supreme Court during Scalia's tenure, and by all accounts he's frequently driven away moderate votes (notably Sandra Day O'Connor) to conciliatory liberals like Bill Brennan (and, later, Stephen Breyer). These days Scalia is mostly in the majority thanks to Bush-era appointees shifting the Court to the right, but this has little to do with his persuasive abilities. I'd much rather have someone like Earl Warren or Bill Brennan added to the Court--in other words, someone with leadership skills and persuasive ability--over an (admittedly brilliant) sneerer and splutterer. In other words, I'm not the sort of liberal who got excited when liberals yelled and screamed about Bush and Iraq, I'm the sort of liberal who gets excited when Bush gets voted out and when the war actually ends. Results are key, not feel-good righteous indignation that does nothing.

I did have another thought in this vein recently. In retrospect, the Democrats' inability to properly exploit the Harriet Miers nomination was a big mistake. I think it's very hard to argue that, from a liberal perspective, Alito is preferable to a potential Miers judgeship. She wasn't exactly prepared for the job, but the Dems' desire to defeat a Bush nominee and win a tactical victory ended up doing no good at all, as Miers's lack of conservative indoctrination might well have led her to follow the path that your Tony Kennedys and Sandra Day O'Connors followed, which is to say, toward a moderate approach of interpreting the law. My view is and has always been that the job of Supreme Court justice is not as hard as it is made out to be, and that any smart, hardworking lawyer will probably wind up doing a good job at it after a time of learning and adjustment. Then again, considering the Dem leadership of the time, I suppose we should just be thankful they didn't botch it any worse.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.