Friday, May 29, 2009

Long Long Ago,

I was talking to this conservative friend of mine who shared my great admiration for Michael Kinsley. OK so we agreed that he was very smart and witty and all that.

Then I said "Yeah but y'know he is often so busy pointing out the idiocies and inconsistencies of whoever he is mocking to get around to saying what he, Michael Kinsley, thinks about the issue."

Case in point. Kinsley writes on Sonia Sotomayor and convinces me that conservatives are incoherant realityphobic and illogical oh and I also was convinced that 2+2=4 after I finished reading his column.

He notes that they denounce judicial activism while calling for judicial activism. That the phrase has lost its original meaning to them. I infer that he supports the confirmation of Sotomayor. I suspect he considers himself one of the "Democrats ... [who] can enjoy supporting her for her impressive intellectual qualifications." I infer this partly because having agreed with his fellow Democrats he has to make up with a slap in the face "They don't even need to mention the obvious: that these qualifications aren't the main reason President Obama picked her."

Huh ? wha ? Look no problem if he had written "aren't the only reason" but what does "main" even mean in this context ? Many other possible appointees weren't chosen. For example, most don't have law degrees, not officially required to serve on the court, but come on. Others have y chromasomes. Others are conservatives. Others aren't as outstanding as Sotomayor. Which is the main reason ? I'd say the one that reduced the pool of remaining candidates by the largest factor. That was not gender.

Kinsley does not say if he supports or opposes reverse discrimination. I suspect that he is generally unsympathetic, because he argues that there is a special case for it in the case of supreme court justices "Yes, of course, ethnicity in politics is different from ethnic job quotas, and a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court is a special kind of job. Nowhere is a bit of diversity more obviously desirable. Nowhere is the case stronger for taking race, ethnicity and gender into account. And conservatives apparently agree."

OK but does he ? It is clear from the short list that Obama first decided to appoint a woman and later decided exactly which woman. Does Kinsley agree with Obama's decision ? Hard to say. He's too busy pointing out the fact that conservatives are illogical. It's clear that he doesn't like "quotas." He knows that in the Bakke decision the Supreme Court specifically distinguished quotas from other allowed forms of affirmative action (no longer controlling precedent later courts have stomped all over affirmative action). The point is that opposing quotas doesn't mean you oppose reverse decrimination which doesn't mean you oppose all affirmative action. Where does Kinsley stand ? I'd like to know. I'd also like to know if he knows. My view quotas no, reverse discrimination yes (but not for the rest of time) other forms of affirmative action yes -- see that wasn't so hard.

Or what about the other issue -- abortion. He is pro choice. OK. But "Although I am pro-choice, Roe makes me unhappy because it was poorly reasoned, not because it "went further" than other decisions of the Warren era." OK so poor reasoning. But does he agree with the conclusion ? Does he think the constitution implies a right to abort non viable embryos and fetuses ? Does he think the constitution should imply such a right ? Let's say just this once we have a new procedure for amending the constitution -- Michael Kinsley choses one of two amendments

1) nothing in this constitution shall be construed as implying a right to abort.

(that is this amendment repeals Roe Vs Wade)


2) No restrictions can be placed on first trimester abortions and restrictions on later abortions of non viable fetuses must be medical regulations protecting the health of the pregnant woman.

(IIRC the conclusion of Roe vs Wade with no poor reasoning -- no reasoning at all -- amendments don't have to reason they are the constitution).

Which would he chose ? He sure hasn't said. One can claim to be pro-choice and support 1 saying that abortion should be legal and this should only be done by legislatures. One can consider Roe Vs Wade to be a totally mistaken decision which should not have been made and support 2. One can easily dodge the question.

Back when I was a fan (in the 80s). I thought that it was sad but true that the best apostle of liberalism was someone who mocked conservatives. It just wasn't the best time to try to make an affirmative case for liberalism or to argue about what it is and should be.

Times change, but some people are just to stubborn to have opinions.

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