In addition to his politically convenient mind reading, there’s also the fact that Novak is just making stuff up. Obama, of course, said (unwisely) that people were clinging to guns, not “the Second Amendment.” Hence, the alleged contradiction vanishes entirely. The fact that people may (in some people’s judgment) overvalue some constitutional rights or exercise them in ways others consider unwise does not abrogate the existence of said rights.
With luck, we’ll be home before noon tomorrow.
Ari makes a good point:
And furthermore, circling back to and expanding upon Wes Clark’s original point about experience, history is agnostic on whether great warriors make great presidents. In the “yea” column you’ll find George Washington. Because I’m feeling generous . . . . I’ll throw in Teddy Roosevelt. And if you insist that I expand the column to include borderline cases, we could also talk about Andrew Jackson, Harry Truman, and Ike. The “nay” column is far longer, so I’ll just hit the highlights: Zachary Taylor, U.S. Grant, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, John Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, and, of course, George W. Bush.
I would certainly add the execrable Franklin Pierce, who — along with the hapless Winfield Scott — collaborated to make the election of 1852 one of, of not the, most awful presidential campaigns in American history. Pierce and Scott were nominated by their respective parties solely on the basis of their service in theMexican War. Scott, the Whig candidate, was a Whig only by virtue of his private (though widely surmised) opposition to slavery; indeed, he had apparently never voted in his life, which proved to be a unique advantage to the Whigs, who were unsuccesslly trying to avoid any national conversation about slavery. Pierce, though a Democrat, nourished his inner plantation master by supporting his Southern colleagues in their hopes of extending the rights to human property as far as the eye could see. The election was as awful in reality as it appeared on paper.
The Mexican War offered both candidates a seemingly non-partisan — and ultimately meaningless — basis for claiming a right to national leadership. At the time, the war had been pitched as a great sectional unifier, an expansionist war that — coupled with the acquisition of Oregon — would ease the growing political, economic and cultural distance between North and South. Over the next decade, however, the Mexican War evolved into a symbol of Southern expansionism — a war that gave the South the terrain it needed to rejuvenate itself. With Peirce as President, this view of the Mexican War would become all the clearer as the New Hampshire Democrat presided over the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and an utterly disastrous, pro-slavery foreign policy that sought to acquire Cuba.
Pierce was also the recipient of one of the worst gestures of 19th century literary hackery, when Nathaniel Hawthorne — an old college friend of his — wrote his campaign biography for him.
Interesting discussion about Omar Vizquel here. Some thoughts on the two questions:
- On the Hall of Fame issue, the conclusion of the more analytical observers seems right to me. I hate to say that — he’s been a favorite of mine since I saw him in Calgary as a minor leaguer, and he even worked out in my gym in Seattle in the winter. But I have to say no Evidently, this is a question of standards; he has a reasonable case under the historical standards for HOF shortstops, which the Veteran’s Committee has padded with Rizuttos and Jacksons and Bancrofts. But assuming we don’t want to use past errors as a baseline, I don’t think he’s even close. I think James went through this in detail at his site recently, but certainly we shouldn’t even consider Vizquel until Larkin and Trammell — also good shortstops if not quite Vizquel’s caliber and far better hitters — are in. Unfortunately, my guess is that the writers will compound their foolish rejection of Trammell by voting him in.
- On the direct retirement question, everyone who have the “MYOB” answer is right. If put in a more useful way, however — should the Giants release him? — I’m going to be contrarian. Vizquel is still an excellent defender, and on a team with 1)a lot of young pitching and 2)no chance of winning, I say play him. Every hit he saves Lincecum and Cain and Sanchez helps the team’s future. I wouldn’t play him in front of a good young player, of course, but the Giants’ Opening Day shortstop can’t hit .200 in AAA. Anyway, the key lesson of the Rays this year is the importance of putting a decent defence on the field, especially when you have young pitching.
And, in an indication of the long summer that is to come for those who follow SCOTUS’s doings, they’re taking stock of Chief Justice Roberts’ (erroneous, it turns out) Bob Dylan reference. From Liptak:
Chief Justice Roberts’s predecessor, William H. Rehnquist, cited his beloved Gilbert & Sullivan in a 1980 dissent from a decision that the press had a constitutional right of access to court proceedings. He was still an associate justice, and he thought the court had made up the right out of whole cloth. In rebuttal, Justice Rehnquist relied on the Lord Chancellor in “Iolanthe” to rebuke the majority. “The Law is the true embodiment of everything that’s excellent,” the Lord Chancellor says. “It has no kind of fault or flaw, and I, my Lords, embody the Law.”
That made Justice Rehnquist’s point pretty well. The Roberts citation is more problematic.
On the one hand, he showed excellent taste. “Like a Rolling Stone,” as Greil Marcus has written, is “the greatest record ever made, perhaps, or the greatest record that ever would be made.”
On the other hand, Chief Justice Roberts gets the citation wrong, proving that he is neither an originalist nor a strict constructionist. What Mr. Dylan actually sings, of course, is, “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”
It’s true that many Web sites, including Mr. Dylan’s official one, reproduce the lyric as Chief Justice Roberts does. But a more careful Dylanist might have consulted his iPod. “It was almost certainly the clerks who provided the citation,” Professor Long said. “I suppose their use of the Internet to check the lyrics violates one of the first rules they learned when they were all on law review: when quoting, always check the quote with the original source, not someone else’s characterization of what the source said.”
The larger objection is that the citation is not true to the original point Mr. Dylan was making, which was about the freedom that having nothing conveys and not about who may sue a phone company. (See, e.g., “Me and Bobby McGee.”)
Ah yes, that tricky double negative and those pesky original sources — a scourge to many journal-editing law students, and, it turns out, Supreme Court clerks.
It’s going to be a long action-free summer, folks – at least as far as SCOTUS is concerned.
It’s perfectly clear that claims that Wes Clark attacked John McCain’s war record or “Swift-Boated” him are entirely bogus. Unlike the attacks on Kerry, Clark did not question the veracity of his war record; he attacked its relevance. Clark’s argument that getting shot down in a plane doesn’t constitute executive experience is simply true, and his claim that a history of sound foreign policy judgment is more important than having been a POW is at the very least fair argument (and I think also correct.)
Obviously, the key here is that Obama and other Democrats cannot surrender an inch to this ridiculous narrative. It’s entirely without merit, and backing off from the comments or undermining Clark would be to cede considerable ground to McCain. Hopefully, having already been involved in an election with a candidate claiming that dubiously relevant “experience” was more important than making good judgments,Obama will understand the need to stand his ground and not pretend that McCain being captured in Vietnam somehow makes him more qualified to be president irrespective of his substantive positions.
UPDATE: I see Obama has done the wrong thing. It’s not only unfair to Clark but just bad, bad politics. It won’t put out there fire; rather, it just plays into anti-Democratic media narratives.
Whenever election season rolls around, I remind my students that the “Vote for Xor you’ll die” meme has been around in the US since at least 1824, when
John Quincy Adams the House of Representatives successfully fended off Andrew Jackson’s first bid for the presidency. During the campaign, Adams’ partisans used a somewhat infamous tune called “Little Know Ye Who’s Comin’,” which includes the following warning to the faithful:
Little know ye who’s comin’
If John Quincy not be comin’
Fire’s comin’, swords are comin’
Pistols, guns and knives are comin’
Famine’s comin’, famine’s comin’
Slavery’s coming, knavery’s comin’
Fears are coming, tears are comin’
Plague and Pestilence’s comin’
Satan’s comin’, Satan’s comin’
If John Quincy not be comin’
With any luck, the McCain Girls will yank this one from the archives before too long.