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October 07, 2005

In Favor of Affirmative Action: We Need a Black, Jewish, or Catholic Supreme Court Nominee

There's been a rather silly pro-Miers counterattack out there, endorsed (tacitly) by the indispensible Brit Hume, that much of the resistance to Miers comes from Ivy League conservatives. It's pure snobbery, the counterattack goes, that all these Ivy League grads disdain SMU Law grad Miers.

It's nonsense. I didn't like her just because I'd never heard of her. I'd never heard one person before talk about the intellectual firepower and fidelity to conservative jurisprudence of Harriet Miers. I'd heard that of a lot of people, but never Miers. I didn't even know she wasn't Ivy League until Brit Hume pointed it out.


But... Ann Coulter did offer the opinion that an Ivy League education was invaluable for a conservative Supreme Court justice. Not because of the liberal elitism of such an education, but rather in spite of it. Those who have suffered the slings and arrows of arrogant elitist liberals with a smugly undeserved belief in their entitlement to rule are the most capable of resisting liberal bullying, and the most eager to combat it. And those who have put up with that crap through their intellectual- formative years are the least likely to succumb to the blandishments of liberal DC and "evolve" in office, as Sandra Day O'Connor did.

Which brings me to conservative blacks, Jews, and Catholics.

Most of the intellectual firepower in the conservative movement comes from blacks, Jews, and Catholics. I could list the names but you already know them. I think there's a reason for that. There's a difference between someone who falls into an ideological position simply because that's the culture he was born into and someone who becomes an apostate from their own given-by-birth political culture to embrace another. Converts, those breaking from the path-of-least-resistance belief systems in which they were raised, don't just "fall into" an ideological system. They first go through a process of rigorous examination of the system they first believed, and then proceed to demolish their previous beliefs through reasoned philosophical inner debate. If they finally do make the break from their old political religion, they have a strong philosophical foundation for their beliefs, each supporting pillar tested and hardened in their own intellectual fires.

Most Catholics (at least historically) grew up in urban or suburban areas, generally in Democratic-controlled areas. Blacks and Jews have historically been the ethnic pillars of the Democratic Party. Catholics, blacks, and Jews that break from their Democratic roots tend to be very powerful philosphical advocates for the conservative position.

In a way, the Ivy League thing fits into this to a lesser extent. If you come out of Harvard undergrad and Yale Law as a fightin' conservative, you've fought, intellectually, the prevailing political culture you live in for seven years.

Look at Ronald Reagan. Another example of this-- a former Democrat, living the very Democratic culture of Hollywood, a onetime believer in liberal ideals who at one point junked the entire lot of them in favor of a new philosophy that made a lot more sense to him (and, thankfully, to the country as well).

George W. Bush is a conservative, but not much of one. He doesn't seem to have a particularly strong philosophical belief in a limited government, for example. Yes, he's Ivy League twice over, but the political culture he grew up in was Yankee Republicanism. Not conservatism, really. Just Rockefeller Republicanism with a bit of West Texas flavor. That's why his instinct is to just tack very liberal whenever he gets into trouble, or wants to garner votes.

Everyone says Bush "goes with his gut." That's fine, to an extent, and his gut is generally sound, if not spectacular. But it would be nice if he occasionally, as Reagan did, went with his intellect. And if his intellect were shaped by years of philosophical/political internal debate, resulting in a commitment to conservative values.

None of this is to say that no white Protestant can be a strong philosophical conservative. That would be jackass. Just that, given the relentless pressures of the liberal media and academy and dominant liberal culture of Washington DC, it really would be preferable to have a Supreme Court nominee who hadn't just fallen into her beliefs through happenstance, but through conscious intellectual evolution. Whether a onetime liberal true believer who'd seen the light, an Ivy Leaguer put off by the smug condescension of his colleagues, a minority of a historically liberal-leaning political culture who had one day gotten his back up to argue with friends and family -- I think a great conservative President, and a great conservative Supreme Court justice, needs more "gut" or received cultural biases in order to have the fire and spirit to truly advance the cause.

Sneaky Giuliani Endorsement Update: Did I mention he's Catholic, coming from a liberal cultural background and more or less rejecting it, and he's still leading in polls for President?

He will back off his liberal beliefs quite a bit. He won't back down from the conservative ones. Ever.

Exit Strategy: Others have pointed out that Harriet Miers will have to recuse herself on numerous issues involving the powers of the President, as she was involved in crafting the President's position, and thus has a conflict of interest. It's hard to say you previously got something wrong.

Alberto Gonzales suffers from the same problem.

We can't have what is supposedly a conservative vote going MIA whenever one of these very-important cases pops up.

So there is an honorable reason for withdrawing the nomination that does not involve the standard "just wanting to spend more time with the family."

Attribution: It was Coulter, not Frum, who made the point about the trial-by-fire aspect of conservatives in the Ivy League. Thanks to "someone" for the tip.

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posted by Ace at 02:13 PM

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