Patterico's Pontifications


Beldar Reviews “Supreme Conflict”

Filed under: General,Judiciary — Patterico @ 12:01 am

Beldar has a positive review of Jan Crawford Greenburg’s book Supreme Conflict.

It’s interesting to put Beldar’s review and mine side by side. We were antagonists in the Harriet Miers debate, and both felt strongly about it. Beldar still carries the psychic wounds from that debate, whereas I consider it a proud moment for this blog, and I’m very pleased with the result.

But both Beldar and I were struck by similar passages in the book, such that we both noted them in our respective reviews. Both of us noted Greenburg’s citation of Harriet Miers’s ironic statement: “I think the blogs will be really important.”

And both of us were struck by the report that President Bush made the final call to axe the Miers nomination. I had actually hoped that this news would provide some comfort to those of Beldar’s mindset. As I said in my review:

Perhaps the “trust Bush” crowd would have taken the decision more easily if they had known that Bush was behind the decision for Miers to withdraw — and that it wasn’t wholly motivated by conservative opposition (though that opposition certainly had much to do with it).

It doesn’t seem to have been quite the comfort I had hoped it would be. Beldar says:

And I guess it makes me feel marginally better. I might have been a dim and unsuccessful candle against a hurricane, but it wasn’t the hurricane that ended up wrecking the ship, no matter how smug the hurricane was afterwards.

I think I am part of the smug hurricane Beldar is referring to. Oh, well.

It would be nice if Beldar could overcome his resentment of the opposition to Miers long enough to follow this syllogism:

  • We must trust Bush on his Supreme Court nomination decisions.
  • Bush decided to end Harriet Miers’s nomination.


  • We must trust Bush on his decision to end Harriet Miers’s Supreme Court nomination.

Anyway. Enough of that.

Both Beldar and I were struck by the way Greenburg showed that Justice Thomas is no lackey of Justice Scalia. We were both amused by the personal stories about John Roberts’s travails in dealing with the nomination process.

And we were both generally impressed with the quality of the book. And that’s enough. This is one area where I choose to emphasize our areas of agreement.

P.S. Speaking of Ms. Greenburg, she has a new post at her Legalities blog. It contrasts the current Harry Reid-led all-night session with the similar tactic pulled by Republicans during the debate over certain of President Bush’s nominees. This passage ends with a funny line:

Talk about the shoe being on the other foot.

Senate Democrats are hauling out cots and preparing for an around-the-clock session tonight to bash Republicans for blocking a vote on a proposal to withdraw troops from Iraq. They’re solemnly intoning that the all-nighter is a critical way of calling attention to obstructionist Republicans who are blocking the will of the majority by refusing to end the debate and vote. And the Republicans are blasting right back that the all-nighter is nothing more than a stunt that will solidify their resolve.

Sound familiar? It is. We heard it all in 2003, when Republicans (then in control of the Senate) used a similar ploy—right down to the cots–against Democrats who were blocking President Bush’s judicial nominees. Ineffectual Republican leaders had sat by for months while energized Democrats picked off Bush’s judges—until the Big Night when they had the sleepover on the Hill. They hammered those irksome Democrats in the minority who were mounting the first-ever filibuster of appellate court judges.

And then everyone went home, and Democrats kept their resolve. The filibuster would prove enormously effective and keep some of Bush’s nominees—Estrada, Kulh, Owen, Brown–from subsequently making it to the Supreme Court when the President had a chance to fill two vacancies.

But of course, in 2003, Republicans and Democrats had a different spin on the whole all-night session/filibuster thing. It’s almost like we’re looking at a big cartoon with talking points in those quote balloons above the senators’ heads. Someone sneaked in and switched the quotes all around.

Heh. Indeed.

P.P.S. A sentence above originally read: “It contrasts the current Harry Reid-led all-night filibuster with the similar tactic pulled by Republicans during the debate over certain of President Bush’s nominees.” Of course it’s the Republicans filibustering, and I knew that, but had a temporary brain freeze. The word “filibuster” has been changed to “session.”

9 Responses to “Beldar Reviews “Supreme Conflict””

  1. I generally liked the book also. However I was struck by (and blogged about) how quickly she dismisses the effect that abortion has had on the confirmation process, even while acknowledging it at the same time.

    “Jones’s experience shows that abortion, for such a controversial and divisive issue, can produce a remarkably lopsided debate during the confirmation process. Republican nominees walk a minefield, knowing vocal opposition to Roe or even criticism of it, could doom their chances. But democratic nominees are assumed to support the abortion right and have been easily confirmed”

    That’s it, with no analysis or discussion.

    gahrie (de5a83)

  2. But it’s accurate.

    Patterico (2a65a5)

  3. I agree with her quote. My complaint is that she doesn’t spend anytime developing it. I wanted to read an analysis of how it has affected the confirmation process and a discussion of how it has evolved, and maybe an opinion about it’s effects.

    gahrie (de5a83)

  4. we must trust bush on his supreme court nomination decisions? uhh, why? your syllogism might be more persuasive had you not so publicly and vigorously distrusted bush’s decision to nominate harriet miers from the moment it was announced.

    i had mixed feelings about it. with a doctrinaire ideologue on extensive public record, you know what you’re getting; stealth candidates from earl warren to david souter have shown the capacity for surprising development upon being promoted from following the law to making the law. it’s like when your favorite team drafts somebody you’ve never heard of; you have to be optimistic about it or else the psychological burden of fanhood would be unbearable.

    assistant devil's advocate (6b9b82)

  5. Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 07/18/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

    David M (b5d889)

  6. I’ll never even begin to understand the appologists for the Miers decision. Never.

    Justin Levine (9f5960)

  7. “He indeed”
    “Harry Reid-led all-night filibuster ”

    It’s a Republican filibuster, jackass. You just changed the meaning of the word.
    Of course the Liberal Media agrees with you

    AF (4a3fa6)

  8. “Since the media hasn’t been able to bring itself to use the f-word (filibuster) in describing the GOP’s procedural maneuvering, I’m not optimistic that the coverage of the defeat of the Democrats’ proposal for a withdrawal timeline will be much better.

    We’ve already picked up on some doozies. The vote to end debate and proceed to a vote on the Democrats’ withdrawal amendment was 52-47, with 60 votes needed for passage. So that’s 52 senators voting to end debate and proceed to a vote. How does FOX News report it? The Democrats proposal failed 52-47, as if only 47 votes could be mustered for the Democrats’ position.”

    So the NIE came out yesterday reporting that the administration’s policies on Al Qaeda have been a disaster and now the Republicans have filibustered any change on Iraq.

    AF (4a3fa6)

  9. It’s a Republican filibuster, jackass. You just changed the meaning of the word.

    It was a temporary brain freeze.

    Change your tone or take your comments somewhere else.

    Patterico (2a65a5)

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