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Cheap Arguments?

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Jonah Goldberg charges me with making cheap arguments in defense of the Miers nomination, but does not provide a citation. Let’s see: I have given radio time to David Frum, John Podhoretz and John Fund in an effort to provide the anti-Miers folks time to make their views known, and will continue to do so. I have not referred to anyone at The Corner as the successor in interest to Caligula’s horse, have not used unnamed sources purporting to know the nominee and the inside scoop of what is going on within the White House, and have quoted Judge Bork and Lino Graglia among others in defense of the nomination.

No, Jonah, none of it is cheap. Not even references to the Bos-Wash Axis of Elitism are cheap, they are –like the very funny stuff John P wrote about Elitists Anonymous– the give and take of the blogosphere. I haven’t bought in to the sexism argument at all, though I do believe that non-lawyers have dismissed the arguments over the nominee’s accomplishments which Beldar, Hedgehog and others have made. The refusal to deal with evidence of the nominee’s qualifications doesn’t even qualify as cheap argument because there is no argument at all. Similarly, the resort to anonymous sources is the lowest form of argument because they cannot be rebutted or their credibility tested.

It might be cheap to quote WFB’s famous suggestion about being governed by the first few hundred names in the phonebook than by Harvard’s faculty and append to it a question as to where that founding father had excepted the SCOTUS from his populist preference.

Then again, it might not be: When exactly did the efforts of people in their communities to press for reform of the organizations in which they were a part, to campaign on a pro-life platform, to achieve professional success, or to change from left to right as Ronald Reagan did become grounds for suspicion of talent rather than evidence of talent?

I don’t know who Ed Gillispie had in mind when he noted a whiff of sexism in the anti-Miers opposition. I can’t credit that argument when many of the anti-Miers gang would have been popping corks over Judge Brown’s nomination (as would I have been), but neither can I dismiss it because I haven’t heard what Gillispie has heard. I know it is a false charge if laid at NRO’s door.

But there is in many places –yes, within NRO, and especially within David’s assessments— a sneer that is undertood by many to be equally applicable to their lives and accomplishments. A couple of Frum quotes:

Don’t trust me. Trust your own eyes. The woman is 60 years old, a lawyer for more than three decades. Can you see any instance in this long life and career where Miers ever took a risk on behalf of conservative principle? Can you see any indication of intellectual excellence? Did she ever do anything brave, anything that took backbone? Did anyone before this week ever describe her as oustanding in any way at all?


The objection to Miers is not that she is not experienced enough or not expensively enough educated for the job. It is that she is not good enough for the job.

(See more on this in my article in the next print NR.)

And she will remain not good enough even if she votes the right way on the court, or anyway starts out voting the right way. A Supreme Court justice is more than just a vote. A justice is also a voice.

or David’s dismissal of Dean Starr’s testimony on Miers behalf, or John Miller’s assertion that evangelicals are hypocrites for not condemning Miers’ tenure at the Texas Lottery Commission –a logic that would impute hypocrisy to every conservative who ever worked inside a bloated federal government with the aim of improving it.

Early on in this debate I accused the anti-Miers crowd of engaging in the “big sulk,” and of acting like the KosKids. Perhaps the latter was wrong on my part as the vulgarity and profanity that marks the KosKids is, thankfully, absent from the debate.

But in the intensity of the attack and the refusal to entertain any competing fact, there are parallels, and they are unfortunate.


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