Dan Coats Channels Roman Hruska

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Last week Dan Coats, the former Republican senator from Indiana who is supposedly helping Harriet Miers get confirmed, told CNN, "If great intellectual powerhouse is a qualification to be a member of the court and represent the American people and the wishes of the American people and to interpret the Constitution, then I think we have a court so skewed on the intellectual side that we may not be getting representation of America as a whole." As Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) noted, the quote is reminiscent of Sen. Roman Hruska's oft-quoted defense of failed Nixon Supreme Court nominee G. Harrold Carswell: "Even if he is mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance?"

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  1. Note to conservatives: Drop the notion that intellectual = Democrat. It isn’t true, and it reflects poorly on thinking conservatives. Nominate smart people and not cronies and you won’t find yourself having to make stupid arguments like these.

  2. I wasn’t aware that the SCOTUS was a representative body, and should have a demographic reflective of the larger populace. Hmm. Good to know.

    I’m still waiting for the one-armed transsexual hookers with IQ’s below 50 to get their deserved SCOTUS representation.

  3. Jason said it best.

  4. Heard on the Sunday talk shows:

    “A Supreme Court justice has only one client — the Constitution.”

    Something to keep in mind to help cut through the apologists’ spin.

  5. “I wasn’t aware that the SCOTUS was a representative body”

    Even the representative bodies are supposed to be representative in the way they are arguing here. I despise the direction populism has taken in this country. It is not at all about trying to convice people that your policy is in their best interest, it is about appealing to base instincts of greed (the class warfare of the left) and fear (the social conservatism of the right).

    Why is populism so damned effective? Why is every large scale political discussion a contest between greed and fear?

  6. Why is populism so damned effective?

    Because, like everything else in this country, “appealing to the lowest common denominator” has led to the grinding down of every sharp edge, every last bit of contrast, and every source of true conflict and fight. Don’t wanna piss anyone off, just try to make as many people happy as possible. Everything gets watered down, everything is PC and child-safe. Ugh. This is populist politics.

    Why is every large scale political discussion a contest between greed and fear?

    Like I said, everything else has been watered down. There are no principles to argue from or against, just focus-group-approved tactics to appeal to your base. Fear and greed work wonders for that. Get elected. Stay elected. Grab power. Wield power. And the people, they don’t see the forest for the trees…and that’ll be the downfall of the republic.

    Anyway, now that my morning rant is through, how about some Smurf “adult” content?

  7. Jason, that didn’t make sense. Self interest and greed are not in opposition.

  8. Given Kelo, could a group of idiots do any worse?

  9. Joe, I think you misread his post. He was explaining that the left uses its crusade against “greed” to mobilize its base, but working to eradicate “greed” isn’t necessarily in the best interests of its constituents. He was not putting “greed” and “self interest” at opposing podiums.

  10. joe, are you saying that conservatives thrive on self-interest, rather than greed, or are you saying that the left is against self-interest?

    In any event, stuff like this is making me anxious to find out if gaius marius has an escape pod with an empty seat…

  11. …thrive on self-interest, rather than fear

  12. Note to conservatives: Drop the notion that intellectual = Democrat.

    But them thar pointy-headed in-tell-lect-chew-uls taint nuthin’ but commies with thar atheism, and thar feminism, and thar political correctness, and thar book learnin’… Don’ thay know that tha Bible is the only book you have ta read?

  13. Evan,

    He wrote, “It is not at all about trying to convice people that your policy is in their best interest,” the orientation of correct politics, the appeal to self-interest “…it is about appealing to base instincts of greed (the class warfare of the left)” the orientation of bad leftist politics, the appeal to greed.

    It’s good to appeal to their self-interests, but it’s bad to appeal to their greed.

    Nevermind the fact that very little contemporary leftism is an appeal to self-interest, but an appeal to the common good. Even granting that his depiction is correct, it’s still a contradiction.

  14. Nevermind the fact that very little contemporary leftism is an appeal to self-interest, but an appeal to the common good.

    Maybe in their rhetoric, joe, but forgive me for my disbelieving that union voters and government employees typically vote Democrat out of concern for the common good rather than self-interest. And that the politicians they elect pander to them out of concern for the common good.

    Of course, those on the right also ostensibly appeal to the common good, as they see it, ie, a society where morality is enforced by law. That their view of a “good” society is repugnant to leftists, and many of us here, is less an indictment of the right than it is an indictment of any ideology which seeks to coerce others to support “the common good”.

  15. crimethink, union voters, including public employees, are a minority, and declining, share of Democratic voters. The word ‘solipsism’ is defined as presuming that one’s own experience is universal. Libertarians and other types of economic conservatives, who do tend to base their voting patterns on their own self interest, shoud familiarize themselves with the concept.

  16. joe

    While I really believe it when you say you favor the welfare state because of compassion for those less well off and concern for the common good, the majority of voters are looking for what they can get out of it and that’s why pols promise it.

  17. Jason,

    “Note to conservatives: Drop the notion that intellectual = Democrat. It isn’t true, and it reflects poorly on thinking conservatives. Nominate smart people and not cronies and you won’t find yourself having to make stupid arguments like these.”

    A noble sentiment, but one that runs up against the hard facts. While both sides contain their share of intellectuals, only one contains a substantial corps of anti-intellectuals. If conservatives abandon the “you think you’re better’n me” argument and all the comfortable accusations of elitism that go along with it, they lose the anti-“tenured radical” argument, they’d lose their “culturally alien vs. ordinary people” culture war argument, and they’d have no strong “tu quoque” when their fealty to economic elites is raised.

    It would be nice if we had two political movements that could fight it out without appealing to no-nothingism. Unfortunately, we only have one.

  18. Bush did not want an intellectual powerhouse, he wanted an Evangelical Christian. You can’t have both, it’s that oxymoron thing.

  19. I just channeled a spirit calling herself Ayn Rand, who says this pseudo-egalitarian, anti-intellectualism proves was that she wrong to have ever endorsed the Republican party.

    I, of course, called an exorcist to cast out this lying imposter. Rand neither makes mistakes, nor admits to them when they happen.

  20. joe-

    I think you and Jason actually agree on anti-intellectualism. As a thinking person with strong conservative sympathies, he’s probably even more disgusted by conservative anti-intellectualism than you are.

    It really is a shame that one of our parties feels the need to denounce Biology 101.

  21. wait a minute here. skewed on the intellectual side? the intellectual side???

    fuck it. i’m joining the democrats.

    While both sides contain their share of intellectuals, only one contains a substantial corps of anti-intellectuals.

    and i could say that only one contains a substantial corps of pseudo-intellectuals. but it wouldn’t matter, because neither point demonstrates that, in fact, “intellectual = Democrat”.

  22. And what’s up with the server? I saw Lost last week, and Sayid fixed the Apple II. It should be running fine now!

    Maybe this will help:
    4 8 15 16 23 42

    Actually, this forum has a lot in common with the island on lost: In addition to the ancient computer, we argue a lot, there’s an abundance of firearms (check out Desmond’s arsenal!), Hurley looks a lot like the Michael Moore picture that was prominently featured at one point, we used to have an Arab guy who’s good with computers (what happened to Mo anyway?), the male/female ratio is skewed, and there’s a crazy French person.

  23. Mediocrity is already more than adequately represented in the Executive Branch.

  24. “I just channeled a spirit calling herself Ayn Rand, who says this pseudo-egalitarian, anti-intellectualism proves was that she wrong to have ever endorsed the Republican party.

    Since Ayn Rand turned against the Republican party while she was alive, I’m not sure why she’d need to reiterate it at this point. When Reagan was elected she said that she was glad she was old because it meant she would die soon and wouldn’t have to see what Reagan would do the country (or words close to that effect).

  25. SR, No shit???? I had not read that about her.
    Did she become a Democrat then, or did she sink so low as to become a Libertarian?

    Still, one has to be impressed with anyone who could live that long with only making one mistake.

    Which party does her intellectual heir endorse?

  26. NoStar,

    The only president Ayn Rand specically wrote about in any favorable way was Gerald Ford. She also agreed with presidential candidate Barry Goldwater on foreign policy.

    Leonard Peikoff gave up on the Republican party long after Rand died. I don’t know that Piekoff actually endorses the Democratic Party, but he does consider them to be the lesser of the two evils presently.

  27. She also agreed with presidential candidate Barry Goldwater on foreign policy.

    She agreed in principle on economic policy too. Her complaint against BG was that she considered him to be anti-intellectual, or at best non-intellectual.

  28. Yes, Isaac. Evidently Rand changed her position on the value intellecualism. Ford certainly wasn’t an intellectual. Not exacty an outright admission of a misstake, but about the same.

    Rand’s biggest misstake was not placing her work in the public domain.

  29. joe:

    I view the party discussion around intellectualism as more or less a wash. I do not think that the Democrat economic positions that make it into the rhetoric are any more valid in general than the social arguments we see in conservative rhetoric. Both parties have more serious arguments, but neither employ those arguments in base motivation strategies.

    The distributed intelligence vs. central intelligence argument is what the liberal vs. conservative argument should be. When conservatives rail against pointy heads, they are trying to target advocates of central knowledge as a general solution. I think they are more right than not in that criticism. Liberals do have too much faith in planning from where I’m sitting.

  30. joe:

    I need to clarify here:

    “It’s good to appeal to their self-interests, but it’s bad to appeal to their greed.

    Nevermind the fact that very little contemporary leftism is an appeal to self-interest, but an appeal to the common good. Even granting that his depiction is correct, it’s still a contradiction.”

    Greed is not the right word. Envy is the right word, I think. I am drawing a distinction between the “Two Americas” rhetoric and something that might actually allow one to understand their self interest in terms of the policies in question.

  31. So, maybe it was the spirit of Ayn after all. Perhaps if I put a hold on the exorcist’s check, she’ll come back.

  32. NoStar,

    Rand was an athiest. She did not have a ‘spirit’. She is dead and will not be coming back. Any ethical exorcist would return your check at once.

  33. jdog,
    Ayn says that was another thing she got wrong.

    And she sends her apologies to Nathaniel for telling lies about him.

  34. “Ayn says that was another thing she got wrong.”

    Dead people don’t “says” anything.

  35. jdog… i have a hunch that NoStar’s not being serious.

  36. Jason L,

    Your argument makes a lot more sense now that you’ve clarified it.

    You’re still wrong, though. 😛

  37. I told the exorcist that jdog said if he was ethical, he would return my check. He laughed and said, “Ayn is saying that an ethical witchdoctor is a contradiction in term.”

    I said, “So if you were to return the check, you would cease to exist?”

    Well, that intriqued him and he said, “Let’s do an experiment” and he gave back the check. POOF, just like that he ceased to be. And I was left all alone in my room. No Exorcist, No Ayn, just me and God.

    God said, “Good job, NoStar. That bitch has been getting on my nerves, always telling me I don’t exist.”

    I have to tell you when God gets the last laugh…he snorts.

  38. Maybe I’m missing something, as zach suggests.

    We now know that NoStar and God are business partners, just like me and my left hand are lovers.

  39. jdog,
    Spinoza said God is the sum total of all nature.

    If there is no God, there is no nature and consequently nothing in your left hand.

  40. “Spinoza said God is the sum total of all nature.”

    Did God tell Spinoza this or was it the other way around?

  41. jdog, You’ll have to locate your own ethical exorcist and ask Spinoza for yourself.

  42. Tonight, I will pray to unethical semi-conductor god. A god who capriously allows some electrons to pass though potential energy walls while turning back the others.

  43. OK, intellectual does not =Democrat, the problem is neither does intellectual necessarily mean “wise”. History is full of examples of so-called intellectuals advocating half-baked theories that caused terrible misery (the intellectuals fascination with Marxism leaps to mind). What Coats said was, I hope, a poorly expressed thought that someone with more a modest educational resume might have something useful to offer even in the rarefied air of the SCOTUS. If not, it was a silly thing to say.

    The left does have a closer relationship with the intellectual class than does the right. Voting patterns confirm this. The most highly educated are most likely to vote Democrat (along with the least educated). The people with middling levels of education are most likely to vote GOP. Perhaps this distribution is explained by this quote?:

    “The fact is that up to now a free society has not been good for the intellectual. It has neither accorded him a superior status to sustain his confidence nor made it easy for him to acquire an unquestioned sense of social usefulness. For he derives his sense of usefulness mainly from directing, instructing, and planning- from minding other people’s business- and is bound to feel superfluous and neglected where people believe themselves competent to manage individual and communal affairs, and are impatient of supervision and regulation. A free society is as much a threat to the intellectual’s sense of worth as an automated economy is to the workingman’s sense of worth. Any social order that can function with a minimum of leadership will be anathema to the intellectual.”
    – Eric Hoffer

    Deomcrat voters are made up of those who wish to direct others and those who wish to be directed by others, while GOP voters are more individualistic. This is perhaps the source of the different attitudes towards intellectuals.

  44. while GOP voters are more individualistic

    Yep, the hand-picked supporters who sign loyalty oaths before going into campaign events to say “I just feel like God is in the White House again” are the epitome of individualism, non-conformity, and distrust of authority.

  45. So people who believe in God, and think that this president is more respectful of that belief than the previous occupant of that office cannot be individualistic?

    As I recall, the “loyalty oaths” were done in response to dem activists infiltrating GOP political events and staging rather immature and disruptive protests. Not the most elegant solution admittedly, but when dealing with opponents that lack civility and manners, what would be a better one?

  46. Besides, I meant that GOP voters were more individualistic relative to Dems, not libertoids.

  47. So let me see if I’ve got this right: we’ve got White House backers (1) defending the nominee because it keeps a quota of two women on the court, (2) dissecting her religious beliefs as a signifier of how she’d rule on cases, and now (3) advocating a Harrison Bergeron-style dumbing down of the court in order to make it more representative.

    Those Democrats are ruining this country.

    Oh. Wait.

  48. stuff like this is making me anxious to find out if gaius marius has an escape pod with an empty seat…

    a latter-day ark, mr crimethink, waiting for a flood?

  49. neither does intellectual necessarily mean “wise”

    this is a great difficulty indeed, mr mj, for it is true, and we live in an age where intellect is, whether idolized or disparaged, the measure of a man’s worth.

    such is a direct consequence of moving from a traditional society in which experience, morality and consideration were primary in the exercize of judgement in leadership to a managerial, technocratic society in which ideology (in the broadest sense) and speed are stupidly thought to solve problems (as opposed to defer or metastasize them). this thoroughly modern approach to leadership has many manifest facets — the cult of youth and the abandonment of the aged, the rise of technology and abandonment of institutions, the cult of speed, etc — and its failure to stem the sense of decline is at the origin of the building wave of populist distrust for the managerial elite.

    but i see little example in history that indicates a capacity to ultimately reverse the deeply suicidal direction of our decaying society short of implosion and dissolution (though, in empire, we may manage a stay of execution).

    What Coats said was, I hope, a poorly expressed thought that someone with more a modest educational resume might have something useful to offer even in the rarefied air of the SCOTUS.

    that’s a very charitable assessment.

  50. The incredibly amazing thing is that Coats could have defended her substantively along the following lines.

    “Harriet Miers is an intellectual powerhouse. That you doubt this is because she has not been a public intellectual, which is someone whose job consists of writing for wide audiences to show off their talents. It was never intended to be the case that only people whose jobs called for them to be public writers about the Constitution should sit on the Supreme Court. The egotism involved in deciding that because you haven’t seen her name on dozens of law review articles or judicial opinions, that she’s not qualified, borders on hubris. Over the next few months, as Ms. Miers is intriduced to the American public and goes through Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, you will see the immense intellectual talents and deep understanding of the Constitution and laws that made her one of America’s finest litigators, an elected official from a city larger than a number of states, and a successful leader of both a large professional organization and numerous posts in state and federal government.”

    Of course, that would have required the Honrable Mr. Coats to be bright.

    Nick

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