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By David Podvin

The Supreme Court nomination of John Roberts is a deathblow aimed directly at the liberal movement. Roberts is not a jurist in any meaningful sense of the term. He is a ruthless political operative who was groomed to pervert the legal system by Kenneth Starr and was instrumental in helping George W. Bush steal the presidency. He has devoted his life to advancing the conservative cause by misapplying the law. This historic judicial appointment wasn’t a hurried selection designed to divert attention from Karl Rove’s treason. Roberts has been painstakingly vetted for the job of eliminating dissent in America.

When George W. Bush selected an überpartisan as his nominee, it was with the sole intention of slamming the high court to the extreme right. Reactionaries have long declared that dominance of the federal judiciary would enable them to defund and destroy the Democratic Party. Having already deprived Democrats of all relevant political power, Republicans are now going for the kill.

There is an inordinate amount of whistling past the graveyard by the permabulls in the liberal commentariat, the cheerleaders who forever perceive an imminent Democratic renaissance. They have breathed a collective sigh of relief and claim that the Roberts nomination, although bad, could have been much worse. Antonin Scalia was unanimously confirmed because liberals similarly deluded themselves about him.

Despite the propagandizing by paid apologists for the Democratic establishment, the Roberts nomination is as bad as it gets. Roberts isn’t the “nice guy” that hapless Harry Reid has mischaracterized him as being. He is the right wing’s wet dream who will align with other extremists to repeal the economic and social progress of modernity. Liberal blood should run cold as a result of the enthusiastic support he enjoys from this nation’s robber barons, theocrats, misogynists, racists, and homophobes. Unlike the pompom contingent of the left, the fascists understand that John Roberts is the ideal judicial activist to turn back the clock several centuries.

After months of diligently pretending to prepare for a Supreme Court battle, the Senate Democrats began capitulating immediately after Roberts was selected. Joseph Lieberman and Robert Byrd enthused over the wisdom of the choice. Judiciary Committee member Dianne Feinstein announced that Roberts was “unfilibusterable” under the terms of the nuclear option compromise negotiated by seven politically acute Republicans and seven mentally obtuse Democrats. In a legislative body where the GOP has a comfortable majority, Feinstein’s announcement amounted to pre-emptive unconditional surrender.

The refusal by the Senate Democrats to fight this nomination with unrestrained righteous fury is the ultimate betrayal of the liberal rank and file. It is an act of cowardice that cannot be rationalized with the standard deceitful rhetorical cover of “engaging in a shrewd tactical retreat while keeping our powder dry”. The tactical retreat in which the Democrats invariably engage is perpetual rather than shrewd. And there is no powder, dry or otherwise. Political leverage is never gained by capitulating. If it were, the Democrats would already possess enough dry powder to blow the Earth off its axis. Weakness merely begets the perception of weakness, which just happens to be the Democrats’ greatest electoral problem.

According to numerous surveys conducted through the years, the primary reason Democrats lose elections is that the public perceives they stand for nothing. While Reid and company obsess about avoiding the perception of being obstructionist, the electorate keeps rejecting the Democrats for lacking principles, and the Democrats keep responding by refusing to take a stand. This is professional malfeasance at its most irrational.

The dirty little open secret of the Senate Democratic Caucus is that its members have far more contempt for their liberal supporters than they have for their conservative opponents. In repudiating the filibuster, Feinstein bitterly criticized progressive activist groups for pressuring her to oppose Roberts “regardless of the merits”. The merits are that Roberts is a malicious ideologue yearning to annihilate the liberal base. Yet to the Seven Democratic Dwarfs who crafted the nuclear option compromise, that factor is infinitely less important than getting themselves praised by the corporate media for being statesmanlike, i.e., doing the bidding of big business.

While the Republicans represent their constituents by playing power politics and constantly pushing the envelope, the inert Democrats fade further into irrelevancy. Happily, this gruesome scenario cannot last much longer because the Democrats will soon have no principles left to abandon and no loyalists left to betray.

The current tragic state of the Democratic Party is the fault of people like me. The Democrats of my state have repeatedly disgraced ourselves by choosing the vainglorious Feinstein to be our senator, despite the fact that she deliberately goes out of her way to make us regret it. She is pro-choice except when it counts, such as when a judicial filibuster is needed to save Roe v Wade. She is pro-working class except when it counts, such as when the Republicans raid the Treasury on behalf of extremely wealthy people like her. She is sneeringly contemptuous of the Democratic rank and file, yet we masochistically keep nominating her. Improbably, Democrats in states like Connecticut and Louisiana do an even worse job of selecting their champions.

The mainstream media has praised the Democrats for “forgoing discord” on the Roberts nomination. That two word phrase is beautifully poetic in its economy of words. It sounds so much more elegant than “demonstrating a total lack of integrity”. “Forgoing discord” is the latest incarnation of the old standby cliché “raising the level of public discourse”. These are among the countless euphemisms for the same phenomenon, which is the relentless reaming of Democratic voters.

The job of the opposition is to forge discord by representing the interests of its constituents that would otherwise be neglected. Senate Democrats are ethically obligated to face down the conservatives who pack the courts with corporatists and theocrats and bigots. Incurring the wrath of the Republicans is the price of saving democracy. It is a price that most Democratic senators are unwilling to pay unless they are coerced, so they should be coerced.

There is a saving grace to being represented by cowards, and it is that cowards are susceptible to being intimidated for good as well as for evil. Provided with sufficient threats to their vocational well being, our Democratic senatorial invertebrates will do anything they are told. It is therefore imperative they be told that failure to filibuster Roberts is the point of departure – their departure.

If Democratic senators can’t bring themselves to oppose this reprobate they must be defeated in the primaries. That’s what would happen to Republican senators if they allowed the confirmation of a leftist equivalent of Roberts. The wrath of the right wing base would be sufficiently intense to curdle lava, and their senators would be replaced. Rank and file conservatives care about their principles, vile though those principles are.

Roberts embodies the moral squalor of the right wing. A vote against filibustering him is a vote to repeal the New Deal, to eliminate Roe v Wade, to strike down the Violence Against Women Act, to revisit the 1964 Civil Rights Act, to outlaw gay marriage, to abjure labor law, to eviscerate environmental protections, to deregulate multi-national conglomerates, and on and on and on. He also believes that torture is constitutional.

Several prominent liberal analysts contend that while confirming an advocate of torture to serve on the Supreme Court certainly isn’t desirable, it does seem to be inevitable and is nothing about which to become apoplectic. I disrespectfully disagree. If there is anything that warrants becoming apoplectic, it is Supreme Court justices who approve of torturing defenseless human beings.

Even so, Democratic senators are beating yet another shrewd tactical retreat and are once again keeping their powder amazingly dry in preparation for the intrepid defense of liberty that is always so near but never quite arrives. Should the right wing ultimately succeed in destroying this country, conservatives will owe liberals a tremendous debt of gratitude for deciding that steadfast opposition to malevolence just wasn’t worth the effort.

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Last changed: December 13, 2009