Monday, October 03, 2005

Slippery and Evasive

Bush has done it once again. In the same way that the nomination of Chief Justice Roberts was a political masterstroke, in that Roberts has never expressed an opinion in his life, his nomination of Harriet Myers, the White House counsel, has much, politically speaking, to commend itself. With no judicial record to speak of, finding the deal-breaker will almost certainly be hard. No doubt Myers will just continue to perform the Roberts act of refusing to answer any remotely controversial question on the grounds that she may have to judge it in the future.

The one possible problem I can forsee is that she is a far more obviously partisan selection than Roberts, having such a close recent association with Bush. Even so, Bush is a politically smart guy. There's no way he wants a massively contentious confirmation process, with his stock particularly hurt in the wake of the FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina. And yet he's still found someone who will keep the conservatives happy.

One thing I do find interesting, though, is that the catchphrase among the right in America now seems to be "judicial restraint". Of course, few people actually disagree with the principle that judges are there to interpret the law, not legislate. That's not really what they mean, though, is it? They mean that they're not going to protect abortion rights and legislative action. In the same way that Blair has been a genius in Britain at shifting the terms in which debate is phrased so that they automatically favour the Labour party (it is highly significant that a Tory leadership candidate supposedly from the right is talking so heavily about social justice), the Republicans have a knack of finding the right soundbite for unpopular policies.