Mansfield Fox

Law student. Yankees fan. Massive fraggle. Just living the American dream.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

John G. Roberts, Jr.

I'd just like to point out that I (kinda, sorta) called this at approximately 6pm yesterday. (I didn't blog about it 'cause I was away from the computer - heading to a performance of "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels". My quarter-second review: meh.) I did make a point to tell Mr. Misanthropic about it though, and he can verify. I said to him: it won't be Clement, and it won't be any woman or Latino. It'll be Luttig, McConnell or Roberts.

At approximately 5pm, or so, I began to see the forest for the trees and realized we were in the midst of a classic Bush 43 rope-a-dope (c.f., does the president need Congressional/UN authorization to invade Iraq?). The Administration had spent weeks floating rumors that suggested Bush was going to make an identity-politics pick to replace O'Connor. First it was Gonzalez, and then it was "a woman", and then on the final day it was Clement. It's no coincidence that neither of the named candidates were especially impressive, or had a notable or lengthy judicial record. The idea was to make you think Bush was going for a stealth candidate, a person who could slip through without too much of a fight on a combination of their biography and a thin record. Instead, it was a feint.

Why? Surprise. In politics, as in war, surprise is critical. But so is using your best units. And (and I hope I don't sound too chauvinistic in saying) the GOP's best units in this fight are all white men. Roberts, Luttig, McConnell, Alito, Wilkinson, Kozinski, etc. There are some top-tier non-white male candidates - Garza, Alice Batchelder, Mary Ann Glendon, Larry Thompson, etc - but, for whatever reason, the best candidates conservative candidates right now are people of pallor, of the masculine persuasion.

How do you make it a surprise to pick the best candidate, the Court's umpteenth white male? You spend weeks pretending you're going to name a less-qualified candidate for reasons having to do with crude identity politics. Brilliant!

Anyway, so yeah, I called it, sorta, a little before everybody else. Ain't I great?

(One of the PennLawHigh bloggers is similarly bragging.)

UPDATE: Robert Novak writes that Clement was indeed the runner-up. I am now 100% sure that it was a feint.