Along the Tracks

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

From this week's column ...

How hot was it Sunday and Monday?It was so hot …
- my sunflowers turned toward the shade.
- my cat found it more comfortable on a tin roof.
- my jalapeños were sweating.
- birds looked longingly inside at our air-conditioned living room.
And humid? Well …
- there was a cloud in the shade under my front-yard maple.
- I put out the laundry on the line to get it wet for washing.
- my yard stick swelled to 40 inches.
- my ponds ended the day fuller than they started.

The Professor has noticed the weather: “I’ve switched from satin to cotton kerchiefs to absorb the sweat of my brow.”

Backhanded Compliment of the Week: “That must be some really good flypaper to catch so many.”

It looks like the most pointed criticism aimed at George W. Bush’s nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court is a fallback to old-style identity politics. Roberts is not a woman or black or Hispanic or other identity group, therefore he is lacking.

Most put it kindly – even outgoing Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said she was “disappointed” the nominee was not a woman, all the while praising Roberts qualifications and ability. Several senators have also indicated “regret” that the diversity of the Supreme Court will be diminished.

At least one columnist (Washington Post Group’s Marie Cocco) is leading the charge against Roberts on that basis alone, insinuating he could not possibly identify with the problems of women and people of color. She even slapped on the dirty slur, “white male.”

I have news for this subgroup of anti-Roberts liberals: Everybody has life experience. It is an important brick in constructing one’s world view.

But it is only a brick. It is not the entire structure. What one does with that life experience, how one applies it – that is how life experience is used to build something strong and useful to society as a whole.

As people looked at those whom Bush was likely to nominate, Roberts’ name regularly came up. Invariably, the knock on him was that he was “not a woman” or “not a minority.” I confess I fell into that trap on these pages a few weeks ago when I predicted Alberto Gonzalez would be the choice. I should have read more closely my own preceding paragraphs, where I argued Bush would not compromise his choice based on outside influences. Bush believed Roberts outshone everyone, including his friend Gonzalez, and therefore nominated him.

Meanwhile, if Roberts proves to be as capable a conservative jurist as the resume and references indicate, it’s hard to argue Bush should have chosen someone else.

And those who worry Roberts’ “life experience” doesn’t measure up to their stereotypes should step back and consider: Would you rather have someone placed on the court based only on their skin color or sex - or someone who has the praise of liberals and conservatives, a stellar career as an advocate and judge in Washington where the laws are made and tested, and a deep understanding and respect for the Constitution?

Male Proverb #150: “The anticipation waiting for sweet corn is matched only by the frantic work of picking, shucking and freezing.”

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