Still lots of talk in the blogosphere about the president calling out a co-equal branch of government before the whole nation and then inciting another co-equal branch to jeer against it, and Justice Samuel Alito’s reflexive, and unheard-only-lip-read reaction.
I’m sorry, I’m having a really hard time getting worked up about Alito’s “breach of protocol”. It’s totally true that justices usually sit there like a stone. On the other hand, president’s don’t usually call out said justices for being too wrapped up in that dumb first amendment–much less call them out with statements that seem to be unequivocally false.
Using the state of the union as an opportunity to call out supreme court justices, who you expect will have to sit there impassively while you rake them over the coals is, well, kind of a jerk move. And I’m pretty sure it’s not exactly traditional presidential protocol. It certainly doesn’t show “all due deference” to the separation of powers, especially when it’s followed by a pledge to pass more of the kinds of laws they’ve just ruled unconstitutional.
I’m calling this one a draw. (H/T Insty)
Because I am a laywoman, perhaps I don’t get how McArdle can end her stinging rebuke with a “draw.”
Obama is the President of the United States, and he had the pulpit, the microphone, the cameras and the attention of the whole chamber. Alito was one robed judge among 7, barely noticeable in the crowd. The president’s remarks were premeditated. The justice’s muttering was reflexive. One act meant to be both disrespectful and elicit a partisan response, the other was probably not even voiced at all and was meant to satisfy the justice’s own sense of, well, justice.
If we were talking about a murder, instead of a murmer, Alito would be facing a charge, probably, of involuntary manslaughter. Obama, on the other hand: cold-blooded murder in the first degree: weapon, means, motive, deliberation, calculation.
Again, only as a laywoman, it seems to me that our constitutional scholar president, at the very least distorted the ruling before the whole nation. Which either means he is dumb or a demagogue, I don’t know. Some are saying demagogue, but since Ed Morrissey and Gateway Pundit noticed the president kind of making up the constitution as he went along (nothing like counting on Americans to be stupid…or something) maybe he is just not as smart as everyone thought. Or, maybe he is a dumb demagogue, and not a smart one.
I mean, in his SOTU address, Obama also proudly (and rather nastily) claimed that his administration was “once again prosecuting civil rights violations”, excepting those violations against voters who have tried to exercise their constitutional right and duty, only to be intimidated by a guy with a nightstick, whom the president and his justice department refuse to prosecute.
So, maybe President Obama is confused about lots of things in the constitution and in the law. Or maybe he spouts “just words.” Lots and lots of “just words.”
In any case, having watched every SOTU speech since I was ten years old, I agree with McCardle that Obama’s making his remarks about and to the court – made when they were a captive audience unable to address his odd distortion and promise of legislative revenge – was “kind of a jerk thing to do.” I have never trusted the president less.
UPDATE: In the comments section, “Zachriel” writes:
Bush, State of the Union 2004: “Activist judges, however, have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives.”
I think reasonable, thoughtful people who debate should be able to make distinctions, particularly when they are not exactly fine distinctions. Let us stipulate -as the left has, for several days now, and the right has agreed- that the separate branches of government may speak to each other and about each other. Having so stipulated, it seems to me to be rather a large difference between a president making a very broad remark about a general trend of the court, vs a president citing a specific ruling, distorting that ruling, instructing his party to legislate in a manner that will overturn that ruling and get them on their feet jeering at the court.
Yes. I would say there is a very big difference between what Bush did, and what Obama did.
While we’re at it, I wonder when the left is going to realize that validating the actions of President Obama by bringing up the actions or near-actions of a president whose every move they despised does not really help them in their defense. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve had from people on the left who say, “you complain about spending, but Bush spent a lot!” Yes, he did, and most on the right (me included) decried it. But let us not forget that the Democrats wrote the budgets and voted for the spending that Bush signed. Let us not forget, further, that if Bush spent far too much, then Obama’s spending far, far, far more, cannot be justified by saying “Bush did it.”
It is a crazy way to live -saying what your guy is doing is okay, because the guy you thought was an evil moron did it first – it is cognitive dissonance to the nth degree. And when the argument is used in this case, citing one president’s broad statement against another president’s focused and narrow admonishment, well…it doesn’t work at all.
Little Miss Attila has more.
On a related topic, how far does Pelosi go before she becomes “anti-Democratic”? A must read from Peter Wehner.
And Bookworm watches The Daily Show