Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Bush v. Gore

Select Links While I’m Away (Part 2)

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* You know your discipline is in crisis when a 28% drop in job listings in a single year is good news.

* Bullying in higher ed.

* If you want to know why your bracket’s already busted (Georgetown!), my friends at The March to Indy is the source.

* Democrats giddy with CBO score. More Americans getting behind health care reform. Democratic Health Care Skeptics Fall Into Line For Reform. Lynch: Obama Told Me He Might Try To Get Public Option Next Year. Reid: I’ll Try Again For A Public Option This Year.

* What’s not debatable is that this process highlighted — and worsened — the virtually complete powerlessness of the Left and progressives generally in Washington. If you were in Washington negotiating a bill, would you take seriously the threats of progressive House members in the future that they will withhold support for a Party-endorsed bill if their demands for improvements are not met? Of course not. No rational person would. More here.

* Will the Supreme Court strike down health care reform? Probably not.

Jon Chait, however, points to another reason to worry: “nobody who recalls Bush v. Gore could completely rule out five Republican justices deciding on a wildly activist ruling on a high-stakes political fight.” This is true insofar as it proves that it wouldn’t be fear of being logically inconsistent that makes it unlikely that Scalia and Kennedy would stay their hand.There is a big difference, though. Bush v. Gore was decided from a position of great political strength: the only two legislative bodies in a position to do anything about the ruling strongly supported the Court’s actions. In this case, however, the White House and very possibly at least one house of Congress will be controlled by people who would be infuriated by an adverse decision, and unlike with an election, Congress would still be in a position to retaliate if it returned to unified Democratic control. It would be shocking if the Supreme Court were to announce a major doctrinal innovation in those circumstances.

* Teabaggers still don’t know what they’re so angry about.

* What’s happening with cap and trade?

* Kuwait says peak oil by 2014.

* No one could have predicted that randomly taking FlashForward off the air for six months would go badly. I recall kind of liking the last aired episode, but haven’t really missed this show at all, and won’t be watching.

* Action Comics #1 to reclaim its top spot as most expensive comic book next week.

* How will Warner Brothers make money after Harry Potter’s over? A DC Comics superhero blockbuster every summer.

* If Dr. Horrible 2 is feature-length, I hope they do bring Penny back. I really don’t see a film working without her.

* The ten most important gay moments in comic book history.

* Zombie apocalypse survival flowchart.

* And the Iraq War is seven today. They grow up so fast…

Making History by Shaming SCOTUS? (TWICE UPDATED)

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A reader at TPM says so:

I know I’ve never seen anything like that happen in a SOTU and if anything like that has ever happened before in a SOTU or a joint session, I must have been hung over the day of the lecture in college. Even the fireside chat in which FDR unveiled his court packing scheme, as dripping with patrician condescension and barely concealed venom as it was, didn’t go second person and directly in their face the way Obama did tonight.

The Supremes are used to wafting into the House in their black robes, sitting dispassionately through the speech and wafting ethereally out again on a cloud of apolitical rectitude. It’s like they forget they’re there because they’re one of the three branches. And I truly don’t think it ever occured to them that crassly injecting themselves into the sordid partisan fray of what they like to call “the political branches” with that catastrophic decision would cause the President to treat them like people who’d injected themselves into the sordid partisan fray. (And why should they? After all, they got away with Bush v. Gore with barely a dent in their credibility). I even thought I detected a bit of “told you” coming from the four in the minority.

I think we saw a bit of history made tonight, and no one noticed except the Supremes themselves.

Obama seemed genuinely conflicted about this moment; if you compare his spoken remarks to the prepared text you’ll see he seemed to be softening his attack on the fly. I was remarking to someone over GChat earlier tonight that part of the problem with Obama seems to be, perhaps, his genuine respect for the separation of powers; beyond the mere politics of cover he seems to actually want Congress to do its own work in drafting legislation. It’s a problem, and hurting him badly, because Congressional Democrats have no brains. (A case study in how virtue becomes vice.)

But here, then, is one answer to that criticism, in its own way arguably a vice: Obama is also the politician who finally stopped pretending the five-justice majority that gave us Bush v. Gore and now Citizens United v. FEC is nonpartisan, apolitical, or “above the fray.” It’s been clear for years that this SCOTUS majority is every bit as activist as the “liberal judges” it decries. Indeed, with Citizens United, we see it’s probably more.

UPDATE: Media Matters, in response to a Drudge five-alarm whine over this, says it’s not that rare after all. Contra MM, the moment is somewhat singular. Citizens United was a specific decision, made just last week; Reagan’s criticism of decade-old Roe v. Wade and Bush’s complaints about anonymous activist judges don’t quite measure up.

UPDATE 2: Of course, many are pointing to Alito’s visible response to Obama as evidence of the criticism I make of the politicized contemporary Court above, as well noting that this too is a breach of protocol. Here’s Greenwald:

There’s a reason that Supreme Court Justices — along with the Joint Chiefs of Staff — never applaud or otherwise express any reaction at a State of the Union address. It’s vital — both as a matter of perception and reality — that those institutions remain apolitical, separate and detached from partisan wars. The Court’s pronouncements on (and resolutions of) the most inflammatory and passionate political disputes retain legitimacy only if they possess a credible claim to being objectively grounded in law and the Constitution, not political considerations. The Court’s credibility in this regard has — justifiably — declined substantially over the past decade, beginning with Bush v. Gore (where 5 conservative Justices issued a ruling ensuring the election of a Republican President), followed by countless 5-4 decisions in which conservative Justices rule in a way that promotes GOP political beliefs, while the more “liberal” Justices do to the reverse (Citizens United is but the latest example). Beyond that, the endless, deceitful sloganeering by right-wing lawyers about “judicial restraint” and “activism” — all while the judges they most revere cavalierly violate those “principles” over and over — exacerbates that problem further (the unnecessarily broad scope of Citizens United is the latest example of that, too, and John ‘balls and strikes” Roberts may be the greatest hypocrite ever to sit on the Supreme Court). All of that is destroying the ability of the judicial branch to be perceived — and to act — as one of the few truly apolitical and objective institutions.

Breaking News

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Written by gerrycanavan

December 5, 2008 at 10:02 pm

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I’m seeing a lot of handwringing over the USAToday/Gallup poll that has McCain up 54%-44% over Obama, and I wanted to say just a little bit about it. First, it must be agreed that this is an ugly-looking poll. It makes me sick to see it. We should all be glad the election is 57 days away and not tomorrow.

But just keep in mind:

* it’s one poll;
* it’s a weekend poll, which are usually significantly less reliable;
* it’s a poll taken immediately following the convention, likely to be McCain’s high-water polling mark;
* it uses a “likely voter” screen, which means it alters the data according to a hypothesis about who Gallup thinks is likely to vote. These assumptions may undercount young voters and discount new registrations altogether—bad guesses, perhaps, in a year with a huge get-out-the-vote operation on the Dem side and in which it looks like young people might actually show up to vote for once;
* and it’s a national poll, which means the numbers don’t actually matter, at least not before a 5-4 Supreme Court decision abolishes the Electoral College (just this one time only) so whoever the Republican is can be president.

The raw numbers, the registered voter numbers, are a much more sanguine 50%-46%—and I’d guess that that’s about where the race stands after the GOP had a very good week of press and Obama has been absent from anything but lies and smears, give or take a margin of error. It’s higher than I’d hoped, but not worse than I’d feared.

The latest Rasmussen tracking poll has it at one point, the Gallup tracking at three.

Wait a few days, wait even until next week, to get a sense of where things stand post-convention-bumps. And ignore the polls altogether, if you can; all this poll means—all it could ever mean, even if the 54-44 number really does turn out to be an accurate snapshot of the race at this time—is that we still have a lot of work to do. So: let’s get to work.

UPDATE: Or wait just a few hours. CNN has the race dead even, 48-48.

LATE UPDATE: Lots of polls have come out since this one, and it looks more and more like an outlier

Written by gerrycanavan

September 8, 2008 at 2:40 pm

‘Get Over It’

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It looks like Antonin Scalia just figured out there’s only one thing he’ll be remembered for:

“I say nonsense,” Scalia responds to Stahl’s observation that people say the Supreme Court’s decision in Gore v. Bush was based on politics and not justice. “Get over it. It’s so old by now.

Sure, whatever, my illegal coup completely trashed American democracy—that’s so 2000. Via MeFi.

Written by gerrycanavan

April 26, 2008 at 4:01 pm

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Who Has the Moral Claim to the Democratic Nomination?

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The American Scene lays out the competing moral claims Clinton and Obama make on the Democratic nomination. I like this article because it acknowledges, as many similar articles do not, that the situation is not strictly black and white. The fact that Barack can’t get the job done in big states is troubling, the undemocratic nature of the caucuses and the failure of the delegate system to map directly onto the popular vote is problematic, and on and on. Obama clearly has the better of the argument as the winner under the rules, and accordingly he will be almost certainly be the nominee however long it takes to get there—but it costs me nothing to concede to the Clintons that, yes, the rules are not holy writ and they are not Objectively Fair and Just. They are merely the rules agreed-upon in advance by all parties involved.

My worry, going forward, is that Clinton can see the writing on the wall and will conclude that her only chance for the nomination is to turn her ship around and fly, guns blazing, at the DNC itself. Clinton’s last card is a big one, a kind of doomsday device—she can attack the delegate system and the rules themselves, claiming that various features of the primary have perverted the actual will of Democratic voters for reasons X, Y, and Z. From a procedural standpoint, this is nonsense, and from a partisan standpoint it is a total disaster, because if the delegate system is delegitimized in the eyes of Clinton supporters there’s no way to declare Obama the winner in a way they will accept and therefore no way to bring the party back together again afterwards. But it remains, nonetheless, a card she can play.

(As I wrote the other night, this total disaster scenario may even be a feature, not a bug; see possibility #3 in this comment thread.)

My point in writing all this is simply to acknowledge that, regardless of its relative lack of merit, Clinton will still have an argument that she should get the nomination over Obama even if she loses the race by every conceivable metric (as it appears she will)—and, worse, such an argument could actually take root in a party still smarting from the injustice of the 2000 election, with a press that is anxious to find some way for the Democrats to improbably let this gift-wrapped election roll, Buckneresque, right through their legs.

Obama supporters need to be ready to counter this.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 6, 2008 at 3:18 pm