Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Who's An Embarrassment?

Democrat Senator Harry Reid of Nevada had the following to say in an interview with Tim Russert on Press the Meet, er, Meet the Press:

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to judicial nominations. Again, Harry Reid on National Public Radio, November 19: "If they"--the Bush White House--"for example, gave us Clarence Thomas as chief justice, I personally feel that would be wrong. If they give us Antonin Scalia, that's a little different question. I may not agree with some of his opinions, but I agree with the brilliance of his mind."

Could you support Antonin Scalia to be chief justice of the Supreme Court?

SEN. REID: If he can overcome the ethics problems that have arisen since he was selected as a justice of the Supreme Court. And those ethics problems--you've talked about them; every people talk--every reporter's talked about them in town--where he took trips that were probably not in keeping with the code of judicial ethics. So we have to get over this. I cannot dispute the fact, as I have said, that this is one smart guy. And I disagree with many of the results that he arrives at, but his reason for arriving at those results are very hard to dispute. So...

MR. RUSSERT: Why couldn't you accept Clarence Thomas?

SEN. REID: I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I think that his opinions are poorly written. I don't--I just don't think that he's done a good job as a Supreme Court justice.
Russert, being the hard-hitting journalist he is, didn't ask the obvious question, "So, Senator Reid, would you name one of Justice Thomas' opinions that you think was poorly written?" Why wouldn't he ask that question? Perhaps he thought that the "truth" of Sen. Reid's outrageous statement was so self-evident that no further questioning was necessary. Perhaps Tim is thinking about a potential anchor job at CBS and didn't want to risk going after such a prominent Democrat. In either case, Mr. Russert failed to do his job.

Why were Senator Reid's comments so outrageous? First, if he had read any of Justice Thomas' opinions (and I have) there is no way he could come to the conclusion that his opinions were poorly written or that he hasn't done a good job. Second, Justice Thomas' Constitutional philosophy is similar to Justice Scalia's. However, according to Senator Reid, Scalia is brilliant and Thomas is an embarrassment. I strongly suspect that if the political roles were reversed, there would be charges of blatant racism and Mr. Russert would have found a way to work in that follow up question.

So I guess that what Senator Reid is really telling us is, if you are a white conservative, you can be brilliant, but wrong. If you're a black conservative, you're not just wrong and ignorant. You're an embarrassment. I'm sorry, Senator, but in my book YOU are the embarrassment.