INCLUDE ME IN
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s Include Me Out:
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s commentary on conservative opposition to Harriet Miers’s nomination to the Supreme Court is both disappointing and disingenuous. It’s disappointing that a person as astute as Mr. Tyrrell would suggest that the controversy surrounding Miers’s nomination is actuated by “boredom” rather than the deeply felt beliefs of conservative voters, who reasonably foresee that Miers is unlikely to move the Court away from its present liberal activist position on many issues that are vitally important to them. President Bush has an opportunity — indeed, an obligation — to change the political balance on the Court, and conservative voters rightly have no confidence that his choice of Miers will fulfill this goal.
Mr. Tyrrell also is being disingenuous by suggesting that the only relevant criteria for a Supreme Court nominee are whether the person has a “proven facility with the law” and personal integrity. Surely, Mr. Tyrrell would object if President Bush nominated someone like Ruth Bader Ginsburg or John Paul Stevens to the Court. Yet these justices plainly have a “proven facility with the law” as well as personal integrity.
Moreover, when Mr. Tyrrell states that “we have all argued that a justice’s personal beliefs are not relevant,” he must be referring to something other than a justice’s (or potential justice’s) personal beliefs about the nature of judicial review, how to determine the meaning of the Constitution, how much weight should be given to precedents that one believes were wrongly decided, etc. Of course a justice’s personal beliefs matter. How could they not? And all the available evidence suggests that Harriet Miers’s personal beliefs are more in accord with Sandra Day O’Connor’s than Clarence Thomas’ or Antonin Scalia’s.
The Miers nomination is a disaster in the making — for the President, for the Republican Party, and for the conservative movement. Thankfully, many conservatives are saying so openly and working to defeat the nomination, one way or another. And it has nothing to do with “boredom” or a “yearning for excitement.”
— Steven M. Warshawsky
New York City, New York
With all due respect to Mr. Tyrrell, where he misses the point is that the Harriet Miers nomination was more of a bone thrown to the left (i.e., can’t we all just get along?). What the president failed to recognize is that America needs the Supreme Court nomination battle. Conservatives need the open forum battleground to demonstrate why strict Constitutionalists are needed on the Supreme Court. What better opportunity is there than here and now? President Bush took away that opportunity in a moment of weakness and passivity (in my opinion).
Perhaps the more insidious aspect of this nomination to bubble to the surface is not so much who was nominated, but more the seemingly, how dare you question the president’s judgment, attitude by many of the president’s supporters. Having said that, please allow me qualify my position on President Bush. I am an avid supporter of President Bush and I thank God every day that he is leading this country and not Al Gore or John Kerry. But the president has a record of bad decision-making (for instance, the anti-constitutional, Campaign Finance Reform Bill that he signed into law). And we need the checks and balances available to us to keep him on course….
— Jim L.
East Sandwich, Massachusetts
“Think back. Was it not general boredom that accounted for the election of Bill Clinton over the perfectly normal President George H. W. Bush?”
No. No. And No! It was simply: “Read my lips. No new taxes.”
But taxes were increased and the economy fell into recession. In the election of 1992 about 19% of the votes went to Mr. Perot. Those votes would otherwise have most likely gone to Mr. Bush and thus there would have been no President Clinton (who received 43% of the popular vote).
It was not boredom. It was a revolution. The 1992 Voters’ Revolution created the “Contract With America” which started the current conservative movement.
President Bush has followed in his father’s faltering footsteps with the nomination of Harriet Miers to SCOTUS. Regardless of how well, or how poorly, Miers does with her decisions as a Justice of the Supreme Court, the conservative movement will remember that Bush could have nominated a known strong conservative and he chose not to. The weakness of the Miers nomination, accompanied by Bush’s failure to implement immigration controls and his failure to veto excessive spending bills, has collapsed his support. He is now a lame duck and we must look elsewhere for leadership of the conservative movement.
— Nelson Ward
Ribera, New Mexico
“This hullabaloo is but another piece of evidence in support of my long held view that the greatest unsung force in history is boredom.” Like Mr. Tyrrell, I too am bored with this incessant carping about Harriet Miers. Yeah, we were all hoping Bush would dunk in the face of the leftist Dems, but he took the open jumper instead.
I recall the best of the best being nominated for a past American fiasco, another cadre of bored Americans satisfied with their bravado, gravitas, and cock-suredness: America’s last offering to Olympic Basketball. A talented collection of NBA and college elites, lacking focus, desire, and history. Instead they rested on their laurels as well as their assumption that the elite among them were the only true bearers of the torch.
Even the conservative camp needs outside competitors, and perhaps Bush has found one. And I share the disdain of the many hoping the President is right. Hope is a killer. However, assuming one will work because they enjoy the approval of the “guilded” among us is hardly a guarantee either.
— P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan
Mr. Tyrrell has part of the answer as to why the big beef from conservatives about the Miers nomination to the Supreme Court. But there is more. Elitism. Many conservative intellectuals apparently have forgotten that our forefathers not only created our Constitution but understood it and its ramifications too. And today many folks, not just identifiable intellectuals, understand it also. Oh, they may have to take a course in constitutional law or brush up with a Horne book in order to grasp all of the linkage and expansionary revision that has taken place in the past two centuries. But the concept that only a constitutional scholar can do the work of a Supreme Court judge is to forget that Einstein was a 22 year patent clerk when he began to see the Universe in a way that others could not. Or that Lincoln read for the law, became President, and guided the nation through its greatest constitutional crisis. Ms. Miers has shown us enough in her life to conclude that if called upon to develop a concept of the law or make a crucial decision, she will be ready.
— Howard Lohmuller
After reading and listening to all of the “sturm und drang” issued from conservatives since the President’s nomination of Harriet Miers, I’ve finally reached my breaking point. I am now in full support of her nomination, and I believe that she’ll be an excellent addition to the court.
Why? Simple. She’s not from Harvard. Yes, that’s my reason, and I’m not joking. At first, I was also skeptical of this nomination, believing that the President should have nominated someone like Janice Rogers Brown. I was also spoiling for a fight, a final smack-down that would put the Dems in their place once and for all on judicial nominations. I expected them to fight back, but I didn’t expect the barrage of criticism that Ms. Miers has received from noted conservative pundits like Charles Krauthammer, John Podhoretz, and especially Ann Coulter.
Despite my adoration of Ms. Coulter’s unabashed conservative opinions and take-no-prisoners attitude, her elitist opinions regarding Ms. Miers lack of an Ivy League legal degree are more than troubling. Her latest column is patronizing at best, and flat-out accuses Ms. Miers of not possessing the intellect (based on the average LSAT score at SMU) for the job! This sickens me….
— Gavin Valle
Peapack, New Jersey
Your last paragraph says it all; we’re disappointed and mystified! I have no doubt Ms. Miers is an able lawyer and a fine counselor to the President. But here’s the rub; over the past five years, he’s nominated and had confirmed lower courts Judges who are brilliant and near brilliant. Luttig, McConnell, Rogers, Owens, Jones; the list goes on and on. And how is she going to top Justice Roberts or even come close? The guy drove the Democrats to absolute distraction. I thought Theodore “Fat Man” Kennedy would have a stroke. What in Heaven’s name went through George Bush’s mind? If Ms. Miers is truly able and smart, she’ll withdraw her nomination, yesterday, and let the President elevate someone with judicial experience. By the way, I am a local Republican Party official!
— Bob Montrose
Fort Lee, New Jersey
What has gotten into conservatives the past couple of weeks? They’re all falling over themselves to be the most caustically critical of Harriet Miers. Ann Coulter, normally just pithy, is being so nasty that it leads one to believe that Harriet Miers once ran over her dog. All this talk that there were others much more qualified. Let’s be honest. How many justices can one honestly say were the most qualified candidate at the time of their nomination? I don’t know how Ms. Miers will turn out. I’m not saying conservatives shouldn’t be somewhat disappointed that she is the nominee. But this circular firing squad should be disbanded immediately. The liberals are sitting back and laughing in glee.
— Chris Norman
Durham, North Carolina
Mr. Tyrrell is projecting his own boredom with the Miers controversy onto the controversy itself, which is substantial.
Simply, this is GWB’s “No New Taxes” pledge-breaking moment. It is rank cronyism within earshot of the rank cronyism of Julie Myers, and Michael Brown. Politically tone deaf in the extreme. Intellectually unjustifiable. And being shored up with the hoariest of commonplace cliches — “sexism,” “elitism,” “the president said so.” The President has presented a nominee who should be defeated on the merits.
So, in sum, this is the lowlight of the Bush second term, though we could hope for worse I suppose; and it ranks up there with the Medicare Drug Benefit.
— Darrell Judd
When is the last time anyone checked who nominated Supreme Court Justices? Not the United States Congress, not the Liberals, not the Conservatives, not James Dobson, not the religious right, not the media, not George Soros, not anybody other than the President of the United States. For those unable to grasp the fact that the President of the United States is the only one who nominates Supreme Court Justices, JUST SHUT UP.
I have never heard such a cacophony of educated people acting liking a bunch of two year olds stamping their feet and whining when they lost their lollipops. No wonder the rest of the world thinks that the United States couldn’t lead its way out of a wet paper bag.
— Melvin L. Leppla
Jacksonville, North Carolina
I think your article shows a fundamental disrespect for your conservative comrades-in-arms. These are the kinds of vacuous motives that are usually ascribed to liberals. I find your article condescending and arrogant to those of us on the right who refuse to go along with the President’s “Trust Me, sit down and shut up” directive. You can add boredom, along with elitism and sexism, to the list of motives that are not driving my opposition to this nomination.
— Danny Batts
If Miers is such a high quality pick, why would W make Roberts, a man, his numero uno to replace O’Connor, a woman jurist?
— Raymond Barton
Fort Worth, Texas
Amen! Mr. Tyrrell gets it! Combine the boredom of the Washington media, the beltway “insiders” and the bloated army of congressional staffers and you get the confluence of restless self serving interests creating a “perfect storm” over Ms. Miers. I can’t wait for the movie.
— A. DiPentima
A crack of intelligence appeared with R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s “Include Me Out,” but I’m not certain it is all strictly boredom; I think it’s about herding cats. The Democrats drag a can of tuna through the room marked “Hate Bush” and all their cats form a line and follow. Our conservative “intellectuals” try the same thing except mark the can “Miers=Incompetence” and the conservative cats saunter up, sniff, and walk away apparently willing to wait and see if something more substantive will appear.
— Tim Reed
Highlands Ranch, Colorado
I normally enjoy and agree wholeheartedly with the columns of R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. until now. I was very disappointed to see his recent article.
Over the last two weeks the country club elites in the Republican Party have attempted to marginalize the opposition to Mrs. Miers by accusing the grassroots conservative movement of “elitism” and “sexism.” Now we have Mr. Tyrrell’s pathetic attempt. His marginalization attempt accuses us of boredom. As if opposing this President is not a painful experience for all of us. I take no pleasure in opposing this nomination and being in the position of opposing a president who I have fought long and hard for. This is a man I admire greatly. That’s what makes this bitter pill so hard to swallow.
Shame on you, Mr. Tyrrell….
— A.C. Swiger
I don’t believe it was “boredom” that led to GHWB’s defeat in 1992. I believe it was anger at his breaking the no new taxes pledge and to a lesser extent, his adoption of the import ban on “dangerous looking” rifles. You Ivy League elitists (sorry) are always misunderestimating the guns and pickup trucks wing of the conservative base.
— Robert O.
Los Angeles, California
As an amateur historian, I too have long thought that boredom has not been given its due. The first time this occurred to me was when I learned about the beginning of World War I.
Been a fan of yours for 30 years. Hoping for another 30. Keep it up.
— Bill Ducker
Is Mr. Tyrrell unaware of Federalist 76, in which it was clearly stated that absence of cronyism was an equally valid criterion?
Could he please name three people in this country who truly believe that Ms. Miers is, as the president claimed, the most qualified person for the job? Or that she would ever have been considered for the post had she not been a longtime political ally?
Sorry. Doesn’t wash. Appoint her to an appeals court to prove her mettle for a few years, and then try again. For now, there are a host of others who could better be described as “most qualified.” Pick one.
— Gary Long
In response to the subject article of yours: Amen.
— Jim Farley
ROW OVER ROWLING
Re: David Haddon’s Child-on-Child Crime:
I think David Haddon misses the point entirely of J.K. Rowling’s child-revenge theme in her books. I think when you have a series that is attempting to take a completely fantastic situation and put it into the real world, you should attempt to deal with kids as they are.
Let’s be brutally honest, J.K. Rowling is not writing Christian books with a “turn the other cheek” attitude. Her characters are real and behave as real children in their tweens and teens would. It’s not a matter that her characters revel in revenge, in fact, in his own reference to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry regrets the damage he has done to his nemesis, Draco. This is keeping with his other reference, Star Wars, in which (for those who saw Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith) Darth Vader, after killing one of his own masters, pauses to consider what he has become. Harry goes through the same, “What have I done?” thinking. This is not exactly glorification of vengeance, which is carried out as if done by any impulsive kid with extreme power, but a lesson to be learned from.
On top of that, with the way the world is today where criminals skirt punishment, violence is explained by parental neglect, failure is excused as individualism, and good things continually happen to bad people, I think today’s kids need to feel that when people are bad, evil, vicious and dangerous — they’ll get theirs too.
— Darren Goode
Harry Potter provides sweet victories to life’s threats and vagaries. That magic provides the means is a harmless mechanism available to no one in real life cannot be lost on youth. The moral message is that the good guys anticipate the true motives of the bad guys, their intent, and then cut off their opportunities is a useful real life lesson. In real life intentions have real weight. Potter is not blind to that.
The blood and bleeding is no more real than the wolf eating the three little pigs.
— Richard D. Volkman
I’m not sure why some conservatives want to debunk J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, but David Haddon’s effort seems forced, to state it mildly. It is Haddon’s thesis that while young Harry might legitimately have “just cause for killing the Dark Lord Voldemort, his parents’ murderer,” there is no “similarly weighty justification for taking revenge against” Draco Malfoy and his hench-boys, Crabbe and Goyle. Haddon is wrong, and one wonders why he feels the need to misread the story to such an extent. Haddon misses that the war — a genuine conflict between evil magicians and good — taking place in the background of the Harry Potter series is mirrored in the youth sub-culture at Hogwart’s School. Draco has consciously allied himself with his father, Lucius Malfoy, who is one of Voldemort’s lieutenants, and opened the breach in the school’s security that permitted the murder of its Headmaster, Dumbledore, the apparent leader of the Forces of Good. Draco’s injury at Harry’s hands was not mere revenge, but a consequence of their roles as youthful soldiers on opposite sides of the front line. Surely the youth-as-hero within the context of larger, adult battles is nothing new, or objectionable, within juvenile literature.
It is true that Harry is often less than truthful. This is a common failing of teenagers, as we may be aware. As Haddon admits, Rowling does not try to excuse Harry’s prevarications. Indeed, my response as a reader is typically to wish Harry would tell the truth — one of his obvious failings (which has gotten him into trouble more than once, most notably at the end of The Order of the Phoenix) is that he chooses to keep information to himself, rather than sharing it with an empowered adult. Rowling does a good job, in my view, of showing how Harry’s failure of candor leads to adverse consequences. For Haddon to call this treatment a “disregard for the virtues of obedience, truth-telling and restraint” simply lacks perspective.
I mean, c’mon. Juvenile literature has never been high on preaching the virtues of obedience — where’s the fun of that?
— Leighton Anderson
David Haddon’s analysis of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is as puerile a work of literary analysis as I have ever had misfortune to read. It makes one wonder, in fact, whether he has even read the book he is condemning. If he has, it is obvious that his reading was entirely partial and tendentious, the outcome of his analysis preordained. I suggest that he go back and re-read, this time with a somewhat more open mind.
As to Rowling being a Pelagian, there are many things I would ascribe to her, but that is not one of them. Truth be told, I don’t think that Haddon actually knows what Pelagianism is, but rather is caught up in the Augustinian caricature of Pelagius (who most assuredly was not a Pelagian). What Haddon calls Pelagianism would simply be considered mainstream moral theology among the Greek Fathers of the Church, but then, Western Christians from Augustine through Aquinas have frequently hurled the label of “Pelagian” (or, at best, “semi-Pelagian”) at Eastern Christians. As an Eastern Christian, I find this rather tedious, and think that perhaps Haddon and others like him need to find a new stick with which to beat the dead horse.
— Stuart Koehl
Falls Church, Virginia
What Mr. Haddon fails to realize in his critique of Harry Potter’s ethics is that, by the time Book 6 takes place, the Wizarding world is in an outright war. Harry and the others have lost friends to enemy action, and have had to fight off not only the Magi-Fascist Death Eaters, but also the Meddling Do-Gooders in the Ministry of Magic. They are surrounded by real threats, sometimes with friendly faces. The circumstances (in Book 5 especially) completely remind us of Pre-War Britain, when while the Nazis were growing in strength by the day, the Laborites and the BBC did all they could to silence those who cried “Wolf.”
Regarding Harry’s propensity for lying, several instances Haddon cites are intended to deceive for the purposes of protection or concealment from an enemy, or to ensure that a great secret in his trust is being protected. Harry Potter is no ordinary kid, but rather a soldier (a commander, really) in the magical war of the book. Surely Haddon does not suggest that those in wartime be public and honest with their actions with their own enemies. There is a real distinction between deceptions to ensure success in combat or intelligence operations, versus the ethical lapse of lying for self-profit, which is what Haddon really means. Even Jesus himself didn’t tell the disciples everything he was doing upfront, and sometimes concealed information (especially about His whereabouts).
As for the revenge aspects, I don’t think Rowling is so foolish as to portray Harry’s desire for revenge as completely justified. Careful reading in both the cases of poor Dudley and Draco Malfoy reveal they are much the product of their environments, and Rowling in fact takes pity on both (the fact that Draco couldn’t make the final move on Dumbledore in Book 6 established much of what I’ve believed from Book 1, that Draco’s not really a killer). We will see a real turnaround in Book 7, and Haddon himself might be surprised by how Rowling resolves Harry’s “revenge.”
Mr, Haddon would like a world where kids behave like Katherine Hepburn near the end of The African Queen, where she tells the German captain up front and center that, yes, we were indeed trying to kill you. Haddon has a huge hang-up on perceived disobedience by children of their teachers, parents, etc that is all-too-typical of fundamentalists. Without mucking the details of his critique, what I simply ask of him is this: Do you want your children to become leaders or followers? Haddon fervently desires the latter. Rowling is about the business of enabling the former. And that is why her books are such gems.
— Shawn Dudley
San Marino, California
One of my favorite episodes of “little house on the prairie” is when all the kids finally gang up on Nellie. They’ve had enough. I also loved it when they put her in the wheelchair and sent her down the hill. My dad was a scrappy, tough little guy, but there was a particularly older and bigger bully on the playground who always found time in his day to pound on him. My grandmother kept telling Dad to not fight back and to turn the other cheek. One day Dad couldn’t take it any more, but he knew he couldn’t whip this kid on his own so he found himself a considerably sized stick to even up the odds. The bully got what was coming to him and left Dad alone from then on. Dad figured it was worth getting in trouble over it at home, too, because he just wasn’t going to take it any more.
Sometimes there just comes a point when you can’t turn the other cheek even one more time.
I guess what my son learns from Harry’s lies is that they are part of the trouble he gets into and that learning to be truthful and honest is what makes a good wizard and a better man.
Good article. I hadn’t thought about some of the things you’ve presented in your piece.
— Sue Ellen Hirtle
To those that may find “good” or “Christian” values in J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” are seeing a simple relativistic moment. Unlike many centuries old texts that have been the benchmark of Western civilization, Rowling’s books are mere candy bars to the crucial nutrients that have sustained and accentuated life in the Western world.
While there may be “Christian” or “good” moments in these novels and they may even be decent reads, the novels demonstrate how far we have come that we have grown beyond “hunter-gatherer’s” to self-entertaining after Hamburger Helper. These texts are hardly templates that build lasting morals or Constitutional Governments.
— P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan
It seems that David Haddon’s real name is “Hermione” (year one).
— Mack Stephenson
Re: Tom Bethell’s More Nukes!:
As one whose career in nuclear power evanesced in the face of miniscule risks I would be delighted to see the industry reborn on equally insubstantial risks. Nukes are indeed the solution to Global Warming. Go Tom.
— Glenn Niblock
Excellent work! A few small errors in detail but you got your message across. I remember the ’50s when the media promoted atomic planes, cars, trains, small reactors in every garage, etc. Kids would x-ray their feet for fun at the shoe store. Huh? Then the pendulum moved to the other pole but now it’s coming back. Great!
— Robert Burmeister
I am a huge proponent of nuclear energy, and have made a point of trying to understand as much about it as possible. But a statement that Mr. Bethell made has me scratching my head. He states: “In the body, a gas called tritium (a variant of hydrogen) has a half-life measured in days. So stay away from tritium.” Oh really? If that is true, then why use it as an accelerant in nuclear weapons if it will not be there long enough to make the bomb work harder? My understanding is that its half-life is 12.32 years, not days. I believe that to be far more accurate.
Also, I find Mr. Bethell’s statement about the intelligence of the American citizen on two occasions to be most elitist, and something that I could expect from the MSM and the Democrat leadership. Here is what I mean: “On the issue of nuclear power the people will believe pretty much what they are told.”
“As though the public has a clue about the design of nuclear reactors! On such arcane topics, the public will buy whatever it is told.”
Perhaps it is not the public who are at fault here, but the press, or educational system that fails to teach the truth. Did it ever occur to Mr. Bethell that people have a full plate on a day to day basis, and do not have the time to digest all that is shoved on their already overloaded platter? Did it occur to Mr. Bethell that the pro-nuclear lobby is also guilty of doing such a horrible job of informing the public? I would strongly suggest that he begin pointing his finger at the real culprit, and not the very people who are reading his articles.
— John Kelly
Re: Peter Suderman’s Spaceships and Small Governments:
Can anything be more big, intrusive government to suppress individuality by demanding uniformity of thought, than our unconstitutional public school system?
I challenge anybody to prove that the U.S. public school system is constitutional. As a matter of fact, it was installed dictator-like, with no votes by the people. It is pure socialism of the worst kind imaginable, inasmuch as it eats out the very heart of America; the minds of our youngsters.
As a matter of fact this nation under God, in reality practices Christian persecution with its public school system. If Christian parents wish to educate their children as God ordained from the very beginning, they are punished with what amounts to double taxation.
This is actually worse by comparison than what the Soviets did to its fathers and mothers, because, evil as they were, they did evil. But here the nation under God does that to Christian parents?
Don’t anybody claim that the answer is vouchers. This voucher thing, in reality legitimizes an unconstitutional act by the Federal Government. It is my personal conviction that these unconstitutional public schools are in fact the greatest silent destroyer of the American family.
— H. D. Schmidt
Loma Linda, California
Re: James Bowman’s review of Good Night and Good Luck:
Was Mr. Bowman around as an adult or even an adolescent in the late forties and early fifties when Joe McCarthy was leading a witch-hunt which forever marked the period? I doubt it. No, Mr. Bowman, this wasn’t a figment of the media’s imagination where a few Hollywood folks and State Department elitists either lost or didn’t get jobs. It was a period of a mania for ”loyalty oaths” and real fear that reached many ordinary citizens, thousands of whom lost their jobs or saw their careers ruined by smears and innuendo. It is no accident that it is the source of so much historical comment, plays, movies, and other expressions of popular memory. If anyone doubts the malignancy of this man or the hysteria he evoked, just consider that he was able to call the great General George C. Marshall a communist and have a Presidential candidate, the perhaps less great, General Eisenhower fail to challenge him on it out of a fear of alienating right thinking Americans.
Of course it suits the right to rewrite history in the Stalinist mode of their opponents. This is the world where convicted felons Liddy and Colson can make ”deep throat” the bad guy in the Watergate conspiracy. While Murrow wasn’t McCarthy’s sole nemesis, he was perhaps the most potent and undoubtedly took risks in exposing him.
Finally, go and see the movie, it’s very good and a welcome relief from much that passes for entertainment today.
— John Ellis
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