• Twitter
  • Facebook
News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Playing by the rules

Unilateral disarmament might bring peace, but it might not be the peace desired:

Sen. Richard Lugar on Wednesday became one of the first Republicans to back Elena Kagan's confirmation to the Supreme Court.

[. . .]

He believes that in most cases, Congress should defer to a president's preference in nominations to appointed positions.

[. . .]

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, in Virginia, said Lugar's statement on why he'll vote for Kagan "suggests that senators should vote for presidents' nominees who are 'clearly qualified.' "

During Chief Justice John Roberts' confirmation hearing, Lugar decried the fact that the confirmation process "takes on the trappings of a political campaign" with oversimplifications and distortions. He urged that the focus be on nominees' qualifications.

Once upon a time, great deference to the president's choice was the standard. As long as the candidate was qualified and not an obvious lunatic, confirmation was all but assured. But that standard has changed. I don't know if it changed about the time of the Bork nomination, but that's the point at which the change was obvious.

Under the new rules, a candidate's judicial philosophy matters very much, almost to the exclusion of everything else. Call it judicial liberalism vs. judicial conservatism or founding principles vs. "living document," but one side wants one thing and the other side another. As long as everybody else is playing by the new rules, what do you gain by sticking to the old rules? Most likely, the other side will get the majority on the court. And your side, even if it wins every issue politically, will lose on many of them in court decisions. Lugar is being like the British soldiers who kept marching in straight rows, just as they always had, and getting picked off by the American Colonists hiding in the bushes. They followed the old rules, bully for them, but we won, and I think most people would agree it's good that we won.

I'm not saying I like the new rules. We once ran editorials supporting deference to the president and, like Lugar, decrying the departures from that standard. But those days are gone. As a strong supporter of adherence to the constitutional text, I don't want anybody from my side to just give up without a fight, and it feels like that's what Lugar is doing.


Bob G.
Thu, 07/22/2010 - 10:29am

In this case, Lugar reminds me of that dog that when a burglar breaks into the house, does NOT attack said burglar, but rather takes him around, and shows him where all the valuables are...


I'm just sayin'

john b. kalb
Thu, 07/22/2010 - 1:25pm

Indiana Republicans better correct this "gone-idiotic" senator - and fast!!! It sounds like Lugar may belong in a half-way house for demented seniors. He will be up the same year that we get shed of Obama - so let's do it!!! Another case that proves that term-limits are needed.

tim zank
Thu, 07/22/2010 - 2:40pm

Lugar was once (legitimately) touted as true "statesman" because he was calm, level-headed, and reasonably conservative for the times.

Unfortunately, as time has progressed, he has not kept pace with the threat of the lunatic left, he still thinks that Democrats are reasonable normal clear thinking Americans, not the rabid, drooling pack of dishonest race baiting socialist thieves they have become today. He's oblivious to the impending leftist "shiv" in the ribs we are all bleeding from.

Say goodnight Dick, turn out the light when ya leave.

Lewis Allen
Sun, 07/25/2010 - 5:43am

Tim, for the record, I am a Democrat. And I am not rabid, do not usually drool, am entirely honest, and never race bait, or bait race, or do any combination of those words. However, the thief label may be harder to deny, since I stole the heart of a beautiful but wrong-headed conservative woman some time ago.

Now, regarding the editorial: I probably disagree with this more than anything he's ever written. To the victor go the spoils, and I don't care who's president. Those who opposed Roberts were wrong, and those opposing Kagan are wrong. Rather than stoop to the lowest common denomination that is the currency of modern politics, Lugar and a few others in both parties stay classy. We should celebrate the few good men in the senate rather than wish their demise. A bit naive? Sure, but optimism always is.

tim zank
Sun, 07/25/2010 - 5:40pm

Lewis, you are to be commended if you are not a "rabid" Democrat, it is a rare thing these days. It usually means you were a sane Democrat before 2000. As for your significant other, she is to be commended as well (obviously) for over looking your shortcomings (politically speaking of course).

As to the time honored practice of "To The Victor Go The Spoils" I'm afraid much like a number of other traditions we used to honor (like it or not) that has gone completely out the window never to return.

The lack of will, the lack of moral fiber, the lack of backbone is staggering in our career politicians. The careerist ones like Lugar have sat idly by, "getting along" (in bipartisan speak) with the other side of the aisle, while the country sinks into an abyss from which we may never recover.

Sorry, I used to like Dems, hell I was one for a while, but the platform they have chosen is one of ruination. I don't want to be a socialist, and I refuse to make nice with the people that are trying daily to force that upon us.

Lugar has long outlived his political usefulness.

Lewis Allen
Sun, 07/25/2010 - 6:43pm

I think 'lack of backbone' is an interesting thing to accuse Lugar of, in this instance. It would, in fact, take a lot less courage to oppose Kagan's nomination then it does to support it.

tim zank
Sun, 07/25/2010 - 9:45pm

I should have clarified, conservative backbone.