Friday, October 07, 2005

How atypical am I?

I didn't opine on the Roberts nomination to the Supreme Court because: a) by all accounts, he's a very bright, qualified man who knows his way around a courtroom and has confronted constitutional controversies for a quarter-century; and b) Bush didn't ask me who I'd put on the court. (For the record, the 9th Circuit's Alex Kozinski would be a Brian McCann shot over the wall. But Kozinski's too honest about his views of the law to ever be confirmed to another federal bench.)

From what I've seen and heard, though, the Miers pick is entirely different, because, well, it alienates people like me. I tend to vote Republican for one reason: The alternatives are unpalatable. The Libertarian Party is a joke; it lost me forever after 9/11 when its leading lights expressed sympathy with the view that Osama, et al, had legitimate grievances for U.S. foreign policy. To the extent the Democrats hold any discernible views, they seem to be based on a model from 1973 -- redistributionist economics and timid, if not apologetic, foreign policy. Nor can I abide the Democrats' embrace of identity politics, treating everyone as a member of a group rather than an autonomous individual.

Republicans, on the federal level at least, pay lip service to free trade; they keep taxes in check; they know who the bad guys are on the world stage and are willing to expend some capital and effort to pursue them; and, until the Miers pick, the Bush administration talked a very strong game on judicial philosophy and the courts. I've come to endorse a more-limited role for the judiciary over time, believing that the political branches of government should settle most policy issues, following the proper procedures laid out in the Constitution, of course. I'm not looking for judges who agree with me, but instead judges who apply the law and do nothing more -- even if the outcome isn't to my liking.

Bush's discussions about the courts reassured me, and gave me more justification to trust his judgment. Now I'm not so sure. To return to the baseball analogy: Bush is pinch-hitting with two outs in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the World Series, down by a run with a man on base. Rather than swing for the fences, he bunts. Why would a manager have faith in him in a similar situation?

While I remain convinced that the Bush administration will not cut and run in Iraq or Afghanistan, that's about the only reason I plan to pay any attention to this presidency. It has zero credibility on fiscal responsibility, let alone any fidelity to government reform (bye-bye Personal Retirement Accounts, hello Medicare drug benefit). Now it has frittered away any cause to support its judicial appointments, for SCOTUS, anyway. If I'm still in California next year, I'll probably vote for Schwarzenegger, but I'll have little interest in any other partisan race, because there's no reason to be excited. How many more people are like me? In a nation as deeply divided as ours, the Republicans better hope there aren't many.

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