Saturday, July 01, 2006

Quote of the day: Perhaps an old folk proverb may help us understand a bit what it feels like to be Justice Anthony Kennedy these days


I was just talking to a friend who in the past has helped me understand the modern-day political spectrum by explaining that the whole damned thing has moved so far to the right that in today's world Donald Rumsfeld is a moderate. (You know how you adjust the screw on a scale to get an accurate "zero" reading? Well, just think of grinding the bejezus out of the screw on your political scale till it's "centered" with Donald Rumsfeld as "moderate.") This is a friend whose first reaction to the Supreme Court's decision striking down the Bush administration's totalitarian military tribunals was, like mine, how close it came to going the other way.

For now, it appears, it all comes down to Anthony Kennedy. And I was saying to my friend that it's taken me all these years to figure Kennedy out. He seems like a reasonable person, and yet so much of the time we've found him on the wrong side of really appalling Court decisions. Like the one that put George W. Bush in the White House.

We could fulminate all we liked about Justices Rehnquist and Scalia and Thomas. But what was to be expected from them? Justice O'Connor was kind of given a pass on the ground that everyone knew she wanted to retire, and from her standpoint, after eight years of a Democrat in the White House, another Democratic president was going to make it politically hard for her to step down. Which left Kennedy—he was, in my mind, the person who made Chimpy president.

Finallly I think I've figured it out—ironically, just as Kennedy is becoming the whipping boy of today's right wing. The thing about Kennedy, I think, is that he is, and strongly believes himself to be, a true conservative. But that's on the old, unadjusted-for political spectrum. Remember, though, today's right wing, and in particular today's Far Right, occupy those positions on a spectrum where Donald Rumsfeld is a moderate.

Think of all those years that Kennedy spent on a Court where "conservatism" was espoused and upheld by specimens like Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas. And now, while Rehnquist is gone, so is the more reasonable O'Connor. And in their place sit the twin attack dogs Roberts and Alito.

I have to think that when Kennedy goes to bed at night, he hears his sainted mother telling him:

"If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas."


At 12:07 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Ken, Robert Parry has the exact same worry you do. And the only way to stop Bush from completely turning the Supreme Court into an impregnable bastion of out and out fascism for decades into the future is to defeat Lieberman and the vile gaggle of rubber stamp Republican senators up for re-election in November-- Talent (MO), Chafee (RI), Burns (MT), DeWine (OH), Santorum (PA), Kyle (AZ), Hitchison (TX), SNOWE (ME), and Allen (VA) and to win the open seats in Tennessee, Vermont, Maryland and Minnesota for Democrats.


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