(Chris Field is on vacation. His daily First Look will return when he does.)
NOTE: This First Look originally appeared on November 18, 2003
The Left gets away with a lot.
Though the national media likes to deny their liberal bias, day after day they show conservatives’ complaints to actually be grounded in reality.
Here are three recent episodes about which Americans, including the media, ought to be at least a little bit upset, but they received little notice in the liberal press.
Minority and Female Judicial Nominees = Neanderthals
Last week, at the end of the 40-hour debate on the Democrats’ mistreatment of President Bush’s Circuit Court nominations, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D.-Mass.) proclaimed:
- “[W]hat has not ended is the resolution and the determination of the members of the United States Senate to continue to resist any Neanderthal that is nominated by this president of the United States for any federal court in the United States.”
Imagine if a Republican Senator had said such a thing about one of President Clinton’s minority or female nominees – no matter how unqualified they might have been. (Remember, Sen. Trent Lott (R.-Miss.) was tarred-and-feathered for his complimentary comments of Strom Thurmond.)
Told You So – Estrada’s Race Was a Problem; Dems Have Sold Out
Here are some excerpts from strategy memos from the Democratic staff of the Judiciary Committee of last Congress that the The Wall Street Journal’s “Opinion Journal” published recently, about which most people likely saw little in the national media:
- “You are scheduled to meet with leaders of several civil rights organizations to discuss their serious concerns with the judicial nomination process. The leaders will likely include: Ralph Neas (People For the American Way), Kate Michelman (NARAL), Nan Aron (Alliance for Justice), Wade Henderson (Leadership Conference on Civil Rights), Leslie Proll (NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund), Nancy Zirkin (American Association of University Women), Marcia Greenberger (National Women’s Law Center), and Judy Lichtman (National Partnership). . . .
“. . . The primary focus will be on identifying the most controversial and/or vulnerable judicial nominees. The groups would like to postpone action on these nominees until next year, when (presumably) the public will be more tolerant of partisan dissent.”
- “The groups singled out three–Jeffrey Sutton (6th Circuit); Priscilla Owen (5th Circuit); and Caroline [sic] Kuhl (9th Circuit)–as a potential nominee for a contentious hearing early next year, with a [sic] eye to voting him or her down in Committee. They also identified Miguel Estrada (D.C. Circuit) as especially dangerous, because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment. They want to hold Estrada off as long as possible.”
- “Ralph Neas called to let us know that he had lunch with Andy Stern of SEIU. Andy wants to be helpful as we move forward on judges, and he has great contacts with Latino media outlets . . .”
- “Elaine Jones of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund tried to call you today. . . . Elaine would like the Committee to hold off on any 6th Circuit nominees until the University of Michigan case regarding the constitutionality of affirmative action in higher education is decided by the en banc 6th Circuit. . . . The thinking is that the current 6th Circuit will sustain the affirmative action program, but if a new judge with conservative views is confirmed before the case is decided, that new judge will be able, under 6th Circuit rules, to review the case and vote on it.”
- “…Ultimately, if [Chairman Pat] Leahy insists on having an August hearing, it appears that the groups are willing to let [Timothy] Tymkovich [10th Circuit] go through (the core of the coalition made that decision last night, but they are checking with the gay rights groups).”
Party Politics Above National Security
Thanks to the power of conservative talk-radio, this Senate Intelligence Committee Democratic staff memo, leaked to Sean Hannity, made some news. But the national media has only paid minimal attention, and that attention was forced.
- We have carefully reviewed our options under the rules and believe we have identified the best approach. Our plan is as follows:
1) Pull the majority along as far as we can on issues that may lead to major new disclosures regarding improper or questionable conduct by administration officials. We are having some success in that regard. For example, in addition to the president’s State of the Union speech, the chairman has agreed to look at the activities of the Office of the Secretary of Defense as well as Secretary Bolton’s office at the State Department. The fact that the chairman supports our investigations into these offices and co-signs our requests for information is helpful and potentially crucial. We don’t know what we will find but our prospects for getting the access we seek is far greater when we have the backing of the majority. (Note: we can verbally mention some of the intriguing leads we are pursuing.)
2) Assiduously prepare Democratic “additional views” to attach to any interim or final reports the committee may release. Committee rules provide this opportunity and we intend to take full advantage of it. In that regard, we have already compiled all the public statements on Iraq made by senior administration officials. We will identify the most exaggerated claims and contrast them with the intelligence estimates that have since been declassified. Our additional views will also, among other things, castigate the majority for seeking to limit the scope of the inquiry. The Democrats will then be in a strong position to reopen the question of establishing an independent commission (i.e. the Corzine amendment).
3) Prepare to launch an independent investigation when it becomes clear we have exhausted the opportunity to usefully collaborate with the majority. We can pull the trigger on an independent investigation at any time– but we can only do so once. The best time to do so will probably be next year either:
A) After we have already released our additional views on an interim report — thereby providing as many as three opportunities to make our case to the public: 1) additional views on the interim report; 2) announcement of our independent investigation; and 3) additional views on the final investigation; or
B) Once we identify solid leads the majority does not want to pursue. We could attract more coverage and have greater credibility in that context than one in which we simply launch an independent investigation based on principled but vague notions regarding the “use” of intelligence.
In the meantime, even without a specifically authorized independent investigation, we continue to act independently when we encounter foot-dragging on the part of the majority. For example, the FBI Niger investigation was done solely at the request of the vice chairman; we have independently submitted written questions to DoD; and we are preparing further independent requests for information.
Intelligence issues are clearly secondary to the public’s concern regarding the insurgency in Iraq. Yet, we have an important role to play in the revealing the misleading — if not flagrantly dishonest methods and motives — of the senior administration officials who made the case for a unilateral, preemptive war. The approach outline above seems to offer the best prospect for exposing the administration’s dubious motives and methods.
Sure, the media’s not biased. . .