Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Hugh Hewitt, The American Spectator, And Me

David Hogberg from The American Spectator has come out against Senator Arlen Specter as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. More specifically he has come out against Hugh Hewitt's argument in favor of keeping Specter.

Take the night off Hugh. I've got this one.

I came out on the opposite side of this debate yesterday, and find Mr. Hogberg's arguments unpersuasive. Sure, he takes some cute shots at cherry picked segments of Hugh's writing on the matter. But the very fact that he cherry picked a couple of tangential points and ignored the substance of Hugh's warning ought to make anyone leery of following his advice. This is whistling past the graveyard.

And what is the graveyard here? From Hugh:

"Would stopping Specter make it more or less likely that he would vote for Bush nominees to move from the committee to the floor?

Would stopping Specter make it more or less likely that Specter would vote to end filibusters on the floor?

Would stopping Specter make it more or less likely that Specter would vote to confirm nominees once they had made it to the floor and once a filibuster had been broken?

What would the effect of blocking Specter have on the conduct of his colleagues from the GOP's "center-left" wing, especially Senators Snowe and Collins of Maine and Chafee of Rhode Island? Would blocking Specter increase the likelihood of their opposition to Bush nominees? Can opponents of Specter guarantee that they can have their cake and eat it to, or might these four (and perhaps Hagel of Nebraska) respond by returning fire on nominees?

Specter's opposition to Bork in 1987 was 15 years ago. Specter supported Clarence Thomas and every Bush nominee since W's election in 2000. On what basis do opponents of Specter base their belief that he will oppose Bush nominees in the second term?

What would the effect of blocking Specter be on the re-election of Rick Santorum in 2006? What would the effect of blocking Specter be on the chances of turning Pennsylvania "red" in '08?"

Serious stuff here. Hogberg's answer? He doesn't have one apparently. He ignores all of these questions in favor of attacking Specter for being arrogant. And the terms he uses to set up Specter's arrogance are more than troubling:

"As important a voice as Hewitt is in the conservative movement today, he seems to miss a crucial reason why our movement is increasingly ascendant: distrust of those who hold power, even those who are on our side."

"Our movement is increasingly ascendant"? Get off your freakin' high horse Hogberg. Want to watch our "movement" shrink overnight? Start kicking around the moderates with impunity because they fail your purity test. There are more than a few "non-movement" folks who had a great deal to do with the Republican victory on November 2nd.

We didn't become "ascendant" by your magical anti-establishment formula. There's plenty of iconoclasm on the left as well - in many ways more than we have on the right. We "ascended" by good old fashioned politics which involved forming a winning coalition with people who decided our common interest outweighed our disagreements.

The conservative "movement" is part of a governing coalition. The quickest road back to the becoming a non-governing coalition is acting as though our "movement" can call all the shots without regard for others now.

I am strongly in favor of the pro-life cause. Which is precisely why I am angry at fellow pro-lifers who seem to prefer making loud statements and having ego-trips to working within a political framework that is finally making some progress toward removing the barriers which have doomed the pro-life cause for 30 years.

Folks, advancing the pro-life agenda requires the achievement of two essential goals.

The first is to remove the legal barrier which pulled an absolute right to abortion in all circumstances out of thin air and applied it with the weight of Constitutional authority. This is what Hogberg and others hope to ensure by getting pro-choice Arlen Specter out of the way.

But the second, and no less important goal, is to persuade a still unconvinced majority that abortion is wrong. Attacking pro-choice Republicans in a "movement" based cleansing fights directly against that second goal by making the pro-life side seem intolerant and non-negotiable - exactly the way the pro-choice side would like us to appear. In doing so it endangers the broad-based coalition that put the Republican Party in such favorable condition in this past election.

This has the potential to make Hogberg's apparent achievement of the first goal a very fleeting event - potentially reversed as soon as the 2006 elections.


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