Saturday, July 02, 2005

Salutations & Gonzales ... As those of you who read this site regularly are aware, I spent the last few days at my brother's wedding. So let me start off with a hearty congrats to Jeremy and Kim, who ought to be enjoying the St. Lucia nightlife as we speak. (That said, if either of you are reading this, I take back everything I said about how wonderful your marriage is going to be.)

Further, I'd like to thank my friend Addison -- who was busy last week on an ACLU project -- for taking the time to post yesterday.

Now back to the world at-large. Clearly, the biggest news of late has been the surprise retirement of Justice O'Connor. I don't have much to say about her specifically, except to reiterate that her career was extraordinarily unique and that replacing her will prove all but impossible.

But the speculation about her successor brings me to the current Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales.

For those still unfamiliar with him, Gonzales's career has been intertwined with Bush's ever since Bush was a Texas governor. Back then Gonzales was Bush's state attorney general. Thereafter, he was tapped to serve as lead council during Bush's first term and as Attorney General during Bush's second. Since the two have worked together so closely for so long, it's been widely supposed that Bush would nominate Gonzales for any Supreme Court vacancy.

The trouble is, as good a move as that would be in theory -- not only is Mr. Gonzales Hispanic, but his personal life is as impeccable as it is praiseworthy -- the political math simply doesn't add up.

I say that because for the Republican Party, the Supreme Court is of political importance for one clearly identifiable reason: abortion. Having a pro-life platform is the glue that weds the "guns" people with the "God" people. Gonzales, however, is far more a guns guy than a God one. Yet Democrats will oppose him no less vigorously than if Bush nominates an adamant pro-lifer: Gonzales wrote the famed White House memo that declared as "obsolete" the prohibition against torture within the Geneva conventions. Senate Democrats bruised him badly for this during his AG confirmation hearing, and there's no reason to suspect they wouldn't press just as hard during a Supreme Court confirmation.

So Gonzales has the same downside as a far right pro-lifer, but much less of the upside. Consequently his nomination just wouldn't make sense. It's not that he isn't conservative enough, as the the Times has implied, but because he's too conservative, if only in a different way.


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