Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Zero-Tolerance For Tolerance

I still don't entirely trust Richard Cohen, and certainly not John Roberts, but Cohen did have an interesting piece about him in today's WaPo. Seems Roberts did some very effective pro bono work for a gay anti-discrimination group back in the pre-Florida 2000 good ol' days, and instead of enthusiastically embracing this as evidence of his moderation and balance, the right-wingers backing Roberts are trying to dismiss it as an aberration:

The White House and its allies, understandably alarmed at implications of moderation and enlightenment, were quick to suggest that Roberts was not, as some might slander him, a reasonable man. Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman, pointed out that Roberts had spent less than 10 hours working on the gay rights case. She made it sound like a one-night stand, a youthful indiscretion for which no adult should be held accountable. Hell, we've all been young.

Jay Sekulow, a leader in the movement to make the high court intellectually indistinguishable from the Inquisition, rushed to explain Roberts to his constituency. This was something lawyers did. "A lot of people are commenting who don't know about Supreme Court practice," Sekulow said. "There's a high degree of collegiality." In other words, it meant nothing. Still, maybe Roberts could prove himself by beating up some gays.


As for Focus on the Family, possibly the premier organization in such matters, it portrayed Roberts as a mindless puppet of his law firm. "That's what lawyers do -- represent their firm's clients, whether they agree with what those clients stand for or not," it said in a statement. Of course, that's not the case at all. "Anyone who didn't want to work on a case for whatever matter, they didn't have to," said Walter A. Smith Jr., the Hogan & Hartson partner who ran the pro bono program. Oh.

The spectacle of conservative groups and the White House rushing to assure their constituencies that Roberts is not -- really and truly -- a tolerant man is both repulsive and absurd. In the end, this tethering of conservatism to the lost cause of homophobia will earn the rebuke of history. In the meantime, though, it puts Roberts on the spot. He might assert that he has been cruelly mischaracterized and, for benefit of career, renounce the work he had once done. But more likely his pro bono work speaks for itself. Until he says otherwise, on gay rights, he's out of the closet.

Again, I remain unconvinced that Roberts is not a right-wing tool (although I do harbor some faint, naive hopes that he may turn out to be a Stealth Reasonable Human Being like Souter), but how creepy is it that the Right views even the slightest whiff of tolerance as toxic? Except when it comes to Great American Patriots like Condi Rice, Michelle Malkin and "Bulldog" Gannon, of course...

1 comment:

Gurney said...

That's Hi-larious. Thir spin monster has got the best of them. Their smear goo is dangerous. If you're not careful it'll stick!