Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Why Chief Justice Hearings Don't Matter

There is a lot of talk in progressive circles this week about how we have to interrogate John Roberts thoroughly before he is confirmed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. While the appointment is a critical one, the hearings are trivial. Democrats can ask Roberts about Roe v. Wade, for example, until they are blue in the face, but the answers, if given at all, are ultimately meaningless. If Roberts says one thing at the hearings and does another on the bench, no one has any authority to hold him to his word. He won't necessarily "lie" this week, but he could easily "change his mind" between now and the time these issues arise in court.

Judges have always been held to a higher standard of honesty than politicians, but that doesn't mean we should expect any more integrity from Roberts than we have seen from the man who nominated him. I am starting to think that all these conspiracy theories are floating around about Katrina and 9/11 precisely because Bush has done so little to cultivate our trust. Once you determine that your commander in chief lies regularly (Iraqi WMDs being the most egregious example), it isn't such a big step to concoct wild ideas about what "really" happened. This isn't to say that I believe such theories, but I wouldn't be shocked if some of them turned out to be true.

All this talk by the Democrats about holding Roberts' feet to the fire is hollow rhetoric anyway. They have already for the most part waived their right to filibuster, and the Republicans run the show. As long as Roberts doesn't say anything to offend conservatives, he will breeze through the hearings.


Anonymous said...

So what do you think about Colin Powell taking the blame for the WMD comment to the UN?

David Johnsen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Johnsen said...

I'm not sure if you're asking as an aside or in relation to Bush and WMDs, but I'll address it both ways (I removed my previous comment because it assumed only the latter).

I watched the Powell interview, and I was impressed with his straightforwardness. But then I always thought Powell didn't fit in with the neocon nuts who are running the show anyway. He has too much integrity, which is surely one reason he has shunned elected office.

Powell took responsibility for delivering the UN speech, said he was misled by some of George Tenet's underlings (as opposed to Tenet himself), and lamented that it would always be a blot on his record. I don't think it took the heat off Bush, though. AFAIK Bush has never admitted that his own statments about Iraqi WMDs (including those in at least one televised speech to the nation) were bogus.

Powell also said he never heard anything that gave him reason to believe that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11. AFAIK Bush has never admitted that, either.

Barbara Walters should have asked him why he abandoned the "Powell Doctrine" in Iraq. I think the answer would be that his hands were tied by the neocons, though he surely would have said it differently.