April 17, 2002
The name Charles Pickering should not be allowed to fade away in
our memories. The Senate Judiciary Committee's 10-9 partisan defeat of
President Bush's nomination of this fine judge contains lasting lessons
for Republicans, conservatives, and all those who want to stop judicial
activism and limit the imperial judiciary to its constitutional role.
What happened to Pickering will happen again, and again, and
again, unless the Bush Administration and Senate Republicans realize
that the Democrats play hardball to win, and they will win unless
Republicans engage them in battle. Bipartisanship is a dead-end road
In rummaging through the archives in my office, I came across a
column I wrote 32 years ago about the Senate rejections of President
Nixon's Supreme Court nominees. Here it is, just as it was published
in February 1970:
"The ordeal that Judge G. Harrold Carswell has been put through by
the liberals for a campaign statement he made 22 years ago emphasizes
again a major difference between liberals and conservatives. It is an
unpleasant truth for conservatives to face.
"The fact is that liberals do their homework in their
determination to keep conservatives out of public office.
Conservatives are usually too easygoing, too gentlemanly, too
unsuspicious, and too tolerant, to do the necessary detective work, to
rake over the past, and to mount the attack against a liberal
"Watch how the liberals operated against Judge Carswell, and
before that against Judge Clement F. Haynsworth Jr., and before that
against Otto Otepka, and before that against Admiral Lewis Strauss whom
President Eisenhower appointed Secretary of Commerce, and against Clare
Booth Luce when she was appointed Ambassador to Brazil, and against
innumerable other conservative appointees through the years.
"The liberals spend money, hire investigators, go over the
appointee's background with a fine tooth comb, dig up all the old
skeletons in the closet, examine every statement he made in his life,
and make the best case they possibly can to prevent a conservative from
being appointed, or confirmed, or elected. The liberals reacted with
Pavlovian promptness against Judge Carswell because he is (1) a
Southerner and (2) probably a conservative, and they use any club to
beat him with, such as the ridiculous charge by Democrat Congresswoman
Patsy Mink that he is "anti-women."
"The big question is, why don't conservatives do their homework in
like manner when liberals are appointed to high public office? When
President Lyndon Johnson appointed his crony, Abe Fortas, to the
Supreme Court, his closet was full of skeletons, including secret
payments of large sums from smut peddlers and other interests, and a
curious deferment from military duty during World War II.
"Why didn't conservatives in and out of the Senate do their
homework and expose these skeletons immediately? If they had, we would
have been saved three years of bad Fortas decisions while he was on the
"When Earl Warren was appointed to the Supreme Court, the most
cursory review of his career would have disclosed his participation in
the most glaring violation of civil liberties in U.S. history: the
forcible imprisonment without any trial of thousands of American
citizens of Japanese descent, solely on the basis of race, during World
War II. Yet, when one Senator announced that he wanted to hold
extensive hearings about Warren's fitness to serve on our highest
Court, the liberal claque shouted that this was unnecessary, the Warren
critics were intimidated, and only a superficial hearing was held.
"Conservatives complain a great deal about the bias of the media.
Much of it is biased, as was so forcefully and specifically spelled out
by Vice President Agnew, but that isn't the whole story. Conservatives
are losing a large part of the media battle by default."
As the French would say, plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.
The more things change, the more they remain the same.
Since David Horowitz became disillusioned with the radical goals
of the left, he has been trying to teach Republicans and conservatives
how to combat the left's tactics. He asserts that "the left-wing
activists who now make up the core of the Democratic Party understand
the nature of political war in our democracy, and Republicans quite
simply do not."
Horowitz is exasperated with Republican Party ineptitude. "The
Republican Party," he writes, "claims to be the party of personal
responsibility, yet it has become a party that takes no responsibility
for the predicaments in which it finds itself. Instead, Republicans
blame bias in the media, or the liar [Clinton] in the White House, or
their unprincipled opponents, or even the immorality of the American
people to explain their defeats."
His warning is stern: "In political warfare, if only one side is
shooting, the other side will soon be dead." Republicans should study
Horowitz's book "The Art of Political War" in order to gird for the
next judicial nomination battle that will surely come.
Shakespeare's famous line, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our
stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings," is still valid.
Horowitz's book explains the political tactics that can remedy the