Julie and Publius agree that far from being a desirable moderate, Gonzales is an unacceptable nominee, and liberals should absolutely not define him as a moderate or compromise candidate. Kos’ comparison of him with Souter is completely untenable; Souter didn’t cut his teeth in the Texas state courts, and was not on record favoring virtually unlimited executive power prior to his nomination.
Moreover, the apparent conflict between his “moderate” positions on abortion and affirmative action and his appalling positions on almost everything else is a false one. As I’ve mentioned before, his abortion opinions in Texas tell us nothing about whether he would vote to overturn Roe. The other alleged source of Gonzales’ “moderation” is affirmative action. But, again, while Gonzales advocated a less categorical ban than the administration originally wanted, the administration’s brief still argued that both Michigan programs were unconstitutional. In other words, it’s possible that Gonzales’ position is a ridiculous moving-goalposts routine where affirmative action can be constitutional in theory but never is in practice. Frankly, a categorical ban on affirmative action would be preferable; it would at least settle the law and allow universities to develop alternate strategies.
Even if it were certain that Gonzales would vote to uphold Roe, which might make him the least bad option, it would be completely wrong for Democrats to portray him as some sort of moderate. But based on what we know, this conflict simply doesn’t exist.