John W. Dean Unleashes the Scorn

There’s nothing quite like a believer-turned-skeptic for wielding the Smack-o-Matic. John Dean, former counsel to Nixon, is able to tear apart conservative arguments from the inside. In one of his recent articles, he adds a heaping helping of scorn to his usual devastating deconstruction:

There is a high-stakes game for the future of the federal judiciary currently underway, albeit, at this time, still quietly being played out behind-the-scenes. Over a month ago, the New York Times revealed the then-imminent selection by the Obama Administration of “a small stream of nominees to the federal appeals courts” throughout the nation. The story even floated a few names of potential nominees. But little has happened since then.


The reason Obama’s judicial nominees have not been streaming forth is that conservatives in the Senate are doing their best to dam that stream, literally and figuratively. To use the phrase coined by former Nixon speechwriter Bill Safire, the Obama Administration is being blocked by what can accurately be described as the new “nattering nabobs of negativism.”


Needless to say, conservatism is inherently negative (see William F. Buckley’s founding motto and mission statement for the National Review: “It stands athwart history, yelling Stop”). But since President Obama’s election, the conservative nabobs have been yelling STOP before anything even starts. They have truly fulfilled Safire’s colorful alliterating appellation for overbearing naysayers.

Well-known nabobs like John Boehner and Eric Cantor have led House Republicans to vote in-bloc against the stimulus legislation, and the half-dozen Republican nabobs serving as governors announced they would reject all or some of the federal stimulus money – until the citizens of their states turned on them.

Not as well-known are the nattering negative nabobs of the Senate, who have laid down a gauntlet to block President Obama’s judicial appointees, before they even arrive in the Senate Judiciary Committee. These are Senators who are having trouble adjusting to the fact that there is no longer a Republican in the White House, and in no area is this truth more difficult for them to accept than with the prospective loss of conservative control, as well, of the federal judiciary. These are men like Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona – to mention but two of two dozen.

These men were part of the effort by all forty-one Republican members of the Senate to warn the new president that if he wanted to avoid a huge fight over the future of the federal judiciary, then he should start by re-nominating a number of Bush nominees who had not been confirmed before the Bush presidency ended. This unprecedented request was chutzpah on stilts.

The demolition continues unabated over at FindLaw. Enjoy.

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