Tuesday, May 17, 2005

USA Today's Editorial Pretends To Be Educational

This editorial -- and I use the term reservedly, because there is no indication it was by the Editors of USA today and it could be that someone hacked into their website -- has got to be one of the worst opinion pieces I have seen from a newspaper in quite some time and quite possibly the worst I have ever seen from USA Today. (ht: Viking Pundit)

It is written in a parental, thoughtful, above the fray style for effect so as to disguise the fact that it isn't at all. Worse still, it has a 1984 quality to it -- words have no meaning; they can be whatever you want them to be.

The first five paragraphs are devoted to summarizing the four-odd year contentious fight over several of Bush's judicial nominees being held from debate on the floor of the Senate by Republicans because Democrats have threatened to filibuster all of them as they did with one earlier. In parental style, they admonish those involved in the Senate and in the wider wrangling, noting "little attention has been given to the nominees themselves, who deserve to be treated and evaluated as individuals, not as partisan caricatures in a dress rehearsal for the fight over the next Supreme Court nominee."

So the editors help us out with thumbnails of each noting either the occupations of the nominee's parents or grades they received in school with the rest being rehashed caricatures and inflammatory comment from the opposing sides in the debate. Thanks Mom. Thanks Dad. It makes me pine to have Linus and Nancy provide parental lectures at USA Today.

Now that they met their parental obligation, the editors of USA Today put on their Academy caps and gowns and set to teaching us a thing or two or three. First off, they tell us the Senate has joint responsibilities with the President for selecting judges. So, you can redline Article II, Section 2 paragraph two of your incorrect copy of the Constitution and gently tear from your copy of the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton's Papers #76 and #77 containing his insightful commentary on why the Framers crafted an appointment process with divided responsibilities for the President and Senate. USA Today's approach is the correct understanding of the way our government is supposed to function so just insert this editorial in the gaps where the editors of USA Today will never find it again, lazy as they are in actually reading about any of the history of our country.

Never mind that legal philosophy is not a standard that has been used, incorporated anywhere in the Constitution, or noted in tradition, though there have been a few exceptions. Also, never mind that the legal philosophy is not what the fight is primarily about, but personal philosophy, for more often than not these nominees has show a great respect for laws which run counter to their personal opinions, even if those laws can, sometimes, be better described as imposed "established law" rather than voted and signed "established law." Lastly, never mind considering what kind of standard it is that requires a measuring apparatus like "broad mainstream of established law"; please hope the editors do us a favor and don't manufacture yard sticks to sell.

But the greatest claim by these beanie baby academics on the night shift is their astute observation that the Republicans are claiming there is a right -- unwritten, or as previously colored by USA Today's tone of writing, unestablished or unsettled -- for consenting to the President's nomination by what is often called, in democratic tradition, a majority. Or is that untradition. To do this, USA Today says they are going to "outlaw", mind you, they used the term "outlaw", a loophole left in the rules the Senate makes for their proceedings (per Article I, Section 5, paragraph 2 of the Constitution) in 1806 when making what they thought was a minor modification to those rules, never intended to create a filibuster option, wasn't even noticed as a loophole for some 40 years, and had been considered a serious issue until 100 years later when pressed to create the complimentary cloture vote rule to provide a way to stop a filibuster.

But their crowning idiocy is that their idea that the number of votes required ought to be not how many votes a nominee garners, but how many from the opposing parties in addition to the party in power. By their logic, a Senate comprised of 95 senators from one party still shouldn't be allowed to approve nominees unless a handful of the remaining five agree. If this is such a bright idea, why did it take over 200 years for it to be finally be so clearly explained in the pages of US Today.

The last two paragraphs are sanctimonious drivel intended to show they are Solomons weighing age old prophesies and counseling heavenly inspired compromise, when instead it is nothing but rank posturing to further their own political and legal philosophy. This is crap posing as educated thinking is certainly not what I would want to expose my children to or, for that matter, my bird.

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