June 25, 2008
Re: Evil Judges And Dumb Politicians.
This space, as the media columnists call it, frequently rails against the stupidity of politicians and the evil done by judges. In recent days two events have added to these views.
To start with the one that will be more quickly dispatched, there is the comment made by Antonin Scalia at the very end of his dissenting opinion, which was the final opinion appearing, in the recent Guantanamo case. This is a case whose “backstory,” as the media types say, is an Executive Branch that fraudulently took us into war, held even innocent people in prisons for months and years, illegally spied on Americans, kidnapped people off the streets of foreign countries to be sent to various foreign nations for torture, tortured people itself in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and various secret prisons in places like Poland, did all this at the behest and with the approval of George Bush, and, as Justice Souter repeatedly said in a concurring opinion explaining some of what the dissenters willfully ignored, has kept people locked up without trials for fully six years now.
And, with this backstory, what was the final comment in Scalia’s opinion? It was “The Nation will live to regret what the Court has done today.” Imagine that. One of the guys who made George Bush president, some think the guy who made George Bush president, and who thereby caused, or at minimum enabled, the disasters which have beset us for the last seven years, has the inconceivable gall to say that the nation will regret the effort of the Court to make some dent, however small at present, that will help reverse one part of the evil done by the people he put into office. That Scalia made this inconceivable remark puts one in mind of the comment made by Joseph Welch to Joe McCarthy when the latter savaged Welch’s assistant, Fred Fisher, a comment to the effect that until that moment Welch had never really plumbed the full depth of McCarthy’s evil. That Welchian sort of comment is the only appropriate sort of response to Scalia. A guy responsible for putting Bush into office and causing a seven year disaster says the nation will regret a decision that makes an inroad on the disaster. Such judicial mendacity is just too much.
As a further fillip, Scalia’s opinion, in which he made the inconceivable brass-balls remark, was joined, and the remark therefore was joined, by John Roberts. Roberts obtained his justiceship by (i) unethically sitting on, and casting the deciding vote for the Executive on, a court of appeals case from Guantanamo involving the same kind of question at issue in the recent case, while (ii) meeting with Dick Cheney, David Addington, et. al. to assure them of his intellectual fealty to the ideas they wished to prevail. His conduct in meeting with Cheney, et. al. to further his judicial ambitions, while sitting on a case of crucial importance to them, was deeply unethical. I have said this previously, and in future will continue to say it even though all the mass media in the United States do not give a tinker’s damn that Roberts acted unethically. Perhaps I should add that neither the mass media, nor anyone else whom I’ve read so far, seem to have noticed nor cared about the fact that a guy who gave us George Bush (Scalia) now has the gall to tell us we will rue the day that the Court began to undue some of the evil done by the guy he gave us.
Turning now to the stupidity of politicians (who give us people like Scalia, one notes), I never thought to see the day when one of their own -- a highly regarded one of their own, no less -- would in effect say politicians are stupid. People like Hillary Clinton, after all (not to mention her equally venal husband), are widely thought to be so smart; one is clearly odd man out when one says, as has often been said here, “Not so.”
But that most politicians are not smart is the inescapable import of comments made by Chuck Hagel to the writer Elizabeth Drew when discussing Jim Webb, who was the subject of a lengthy article Drew wrote for the New York Review of Books. Here is what she reported:
Republican Chuck Hagel,
who isn’t spendthrift
with his praise of colleagues,
says, ‘I think Jim Webb is
one of the smartest guys
I’ve ever known. He has an
ability to think through
issues; not many here do.