G. Harrold Carswell was a judge nominated to the Supreme Court by President Richard Nixon in 1970. Carswell's record was attacked by civil rights leaders and feminists, and his nomination was rejected by the Senate. Nixon's next nominee, Harry Blackmun, won easy confirmation so the country made out fairly well.
One of the accusations against Carswell was that his record was mediocre. Senator Roman Hruska unintentionally drove the final nail in Carswell's coffin with a remark that made both him and Carswell a national laughingstock:
Even if he is mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance?"
Hruska and Carswell have the last laugh. The mediocre have their representation. And they are not giving it up without a fight.
A piece called "Republicans in the wilderness" by Thomas Sowell (WorldNetDaily, June 23, 2009) begins:
A Gallup poll last week showed that far more Americans describe themselves as "conservatives" than as "liberals." Yet Republicans have been clobbered by the Democrats in both the 2008 elections and the 2006 elections.
In a country with more conservatives than liberals, it is puzzling - in fact, amazing - that we have the furthest left president of the United States in history, as well as the furthest left speaker of the House of Representatives.
Republicans, especially, need to think about what this means. If you lose when the other guy has all the high cards, there is not much you can do about it. But, when you have the high cards and still keep taking a beating, then you need to rethink how you are playing the game.
The current intramural fighting among Republicans does not necessarily mean any fundamental rethinking of their policies or tactics. These tussles among different segments of the Republican Party may be nothing more than a long-standing jockeying for position between the liberal and conservative wings of that party.
If you lose when you have all the high cards, that is indeed a mystery. Unless you think 4's, 5's and 6's are high cards. Or unless you think A-K-Q-J-J beats A-2-3-4-5. Then you're just ignorant about the game.
This is not a struggle between the liberal and conservative wings of the Republican Party. What's going on in the wake of the 2006-2008 disasters is a battle between the intelligent and the stupid wings of the party. And the stupids look at your A-K-Q-J-10 and their J-3-7-5-4, and say "Jack is a nickname for John, 7 + 5 + 4 =16, my hand says John 3:16, I win," and rake in the pot. And refuse to listen when you bring out the rule book, because their reasoning is based on the Bible.
Sowell goes on:
A corollary to this is that Republicans have to come up with alternatives to the Democrats' many "solutions," rather than simply be naysayers.
However plausible all this may seem, it goes directly counter to what has actually happened in politics in this generation. For example, Democrats studiously avoided presenting alternatives to what the Republican-controlled Congress and the Bush administration were doing, and just lambasted them at every turn. That is how the Democrats replaced Republicans at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
When the other guy is digging himself into a hole, why present alternatives? The alternative to doing stupid things is to stop doing stupid things.
What we are seeing now is not "a long-standing jockeying for position between the liberal and conservative wings of that party." A contest between the liberal and conservative wings of the Republican Party would pit Nelson Rockefeller against Barry Goldwater, or Colin Powell versus Newt Gingrich. No, what we have is a battle between the intelligent and the stupid wings of the Republican Party. And the stupids finally have control, and they are not giving it up.
The great cartoonist Pat Oliphant did a cartoon about 1970, showing Richard Nixon as a small child with a blissfully idiotic grin on his face, bashing an alarm clock with a hammer. Every time I think of the state of the Republican Party in 2009, I see that cartoon. The Stupids have the hammer, and they are blissfully bashing everything in sight.
The conspiracy theory that Barack Obama is not really an American citizen hit a new low in absurdity in late July, 2009 when an attorney posted what he claimed was an official copy of a Kenyan birth certificate on line. Within a day, the certificate was exposed as a hoax, a retouching of an Australian birth certificate lifted off a genealogy web site. The actual owner learned a sobering but relatively painless lesson in identity theft. After all, the certificate was merely retouched, not used to take out a credit card or passport.
When I saw the certificate, my first question was why a supposedly recent official copy was folded and worn. So I fully expected fakery. But I was astonished that the fakery was so downright clumsy. I mean, at least the birthers could have used a certificate from the right continent. In short order, there were sites that allowed users to create their own fake Kenyan birth certificates.
This simply leaves me shaking my head in astonishment. How divorced from reality does someone have to be to think a forgery like this will accomplish anything? Divorced enough to be a Ron Paul supporter, apparently, because there are raging arguments on some Ron Paul sites about the authenticity of the certificate. Many of the people arguing the certificate is genuine are fully capable of seeing fakery in 9/11 videos or Apollo moon landing photos.
According to Andy Borowitz on BorowitzReport.com (December 11, 2009, summarized on Huffington Post on December 15, 2009), Barack Obama's delivery of Hanukkah greetings in Hebrew has some Birthers now claiming he was born in Israel: "Orly Taitz, a leading Birther spokesperson, told CNN today that she had in her possession a birth certificate for Mr. Obama that was issued in Tel Aviv.'If you look at the birth certificate, you will see the name he was born with, Baruch Obama,' she said."
I'm not totally sure this isn't a hoax, not that I don't believe Birthers can be that stupid, but life just serves up such juicy targets so rarely.
Both conservatives and liberals can learn lessons from 1968 about the disruption of Town Hall meetings.
For liberals, the time to worry about civility of discourse was 1968. Remember all the conservative speakers who have been shouted off the podium over the years? What goes around, comes around.
For conservatives, remember 1968. I recall hearing about the riots at the Democratic National Convention while at geology field camp in the High Sierra, 16 miles from the nearest road. To listen to the radio commentary, blood was ankle deep in the streets, Cossacks were riding through the crowd slashing with sabers, and a baby carriage was bouncing down the steps of the convention center straight into the melee. To this day, the 1968 Democratic National Convention is enshrined in liberal mythology as an example of archetypal police state brutality. Unfortunately, when I got out of the mountains, almost everyone I talked to, outside the confines of a college campus, seemed to feel the protesters got pretty much what they deserved.
Seven of the ringleaders of the riots went on trial for criminal conspiracy. They turned the trial into a circus, were sentenced for contempt of court, then were convicted. In one of the worst miscarriages of justice in American history, both the convictions and the contempt sentences were overturned.
The result? Despite the Democrats running Hubert Humphrey, a strong candidate and possibly the most honorable man in my lifetime not to be elected, Richard Nixon won the election. Then, in 1972, in a virtual referendum on the Sixties, Nixon crushed George McGovern, who carried only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. Nixon's involvement in Watergate discredited Republicans badly enough to give the election to Jimmy Carter in 1976, but then Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 and 1984, followed by George Bush in 1988.
So go on. Keep screaming and disrupting meetings. Give the media nice video bites of unattractive, inarticulate people screaming and ranting. See how well it worked for liberals in 1968.
Created 18 July 2008; Last Update 02 June, 2010
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