July 6, 2005

The Laura factor.

Why is Bush homing in on Alberto Gonzales for the Supreme Court appointment, despite all the noisemaking by social conservatives who worry that he might not be pro-life? Maybe it's the Laura factor. Don't you think Laura Bush is telling him that he can't put someone on the Court who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade? Appointing Gonzales is so perfect: he can pick his dear friend, he can have the distinction and the political advantage of appointing the first Hispanic Justice, he can deflect criticism from Democrats (who have to realize that Gonzales is the most liberal possible choice Bush can make) and from Republicans (who just don't have enough information to pin Gonzales down as pro-abortion), and he can do what his wife is (probably) telling him that he simply must do.

Put the Laura factor into the equation and the answer is obvious: Bush will pick Gonzales.

Found while Googling to see if anyone else was saying that: "Who influences George W. Bush?" by Howard Fineman. This is the relevant passage:
Bush has been shaped and surrounded by strong women. As he himself has said, he has had a series of them to “mother-hen me.” They include Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, Karen Hughes, Condoleeza Rice and Harriet Miers, now the White House counsel but for many years before that, his personal lawyer. (Give his daughters a few more years to mature, and they will perform the same function; they already serve as jovially merciless style critics.)

What does this have to do with the Supreme Court? Plenty: as far as I know, none of these women is “pro-life” in the strict sense – certainly Barbara and Laura Bush are not. The president has said that the country is not ready to see the overturn of Roe V. Wade. Maybe what he meant was: My Mother Hens aren’t ready. Would he want to defy them with his Supreme Court choice now?
And since Bush is replacing a woman on the Court, there is all the more reason to pay attention to what the women in his life are saying to him. And, unlike Finemen, I think those daughters are telling him plenty.

17 comments:

Allah said...

I thought for sure it would be Garza, but after hearing Bush defend Gonzales today, I'm starting to think you're right. He's a fool to do it, though; check out the anti-Gonzales rhetoric percolating at Patterico, Red State, Daily Pundit, and Polipundit, among others. If Gonzales is appointed and turns out to be Souter redux, the base is going to crucify the GOP in the mid-term elections next year.

Given that fact, Democrats would be wise indeed not to oppose him too strongly. They'll have to put on a show to appease their own base, and I'm sure we'll hear plenty about Gonzales being an "architect of torture," etc., but clearly he's about as centrist a pick as they can hope for.

Kathleen B. said...

while I haven't studied Gonzales' work enough for a truly informed opinion, and I do believe that he will suffer from Henry Kissinger-problems later in his life, I think the Dems would be happy with Gonzales and he would sail through. I would be happy with him compared to who we could get.

Kathleen B. said...

but maybe I am just believing the hype.

Too Many Jims said...

Interesting theory. Being abit of a centrist, I hope you are right if not for the resulting make-up of the court, then because it may save me from having to watch special interest commercials 24/7 (I am in Ohio and Dewine will be target 1A).

Here is another way he can get AG on the court. Bush sends a "real" conservative this time. Both sides spend their millions. It's an ugly fight. Next time (I think most are operating under the assumption that their will be another vacancy this Presidential term) he puts up AG so the fight is not as tough.

Jacob said...

First Hispanic Judge?

Oy vay, what is Benjamin Cardozo? Chopped liver?

Ann Althouse said...

Jacob: I know there is a current attempt to transform Cardozo retrospectively into an Hispanic, apparently to deprive Bush of a first. But he's never been so regarded in the past and I've never heard of Sephardic Jews being counted as Hispanic. Can everyone named Shapiro now check the Hispanic box on their law school admissions forms? If so, a lot of people have been ignoring an opportunity all these years, and law schools should redo their reports to U.S. News about the percentage of minority students they have.

Here's an analysis of the subject.

Tim said...

Not only because of the strong women in his life, but because of Bush's wild-oats rich past, I'm willing to think that he has--at least almost--brushed up against the prospect of dealing with an unexpected kid.

TopCat said...

I think this would be poetic justice to the Pat Robertson types who slandered McCain in the 2000 primaries.

T. More said...

This may well turn out to be true. It will mean of course that on a highly visible, borderline defining issue, Bush is a liar. Whatever his friendship with Gonzales may be, there is simply no evidence that Gonzales would be anything like Scalia or Thomas, whom Bush has exclusively and repeatedly cited as his model justices and the sort of justices he would appoint.

Some of us, namely me, voted for him on these grounds. I will never waste another vote on a Republican party that panders to a culture of life and sells it out at the first opportunity.

gs said...

I believe the Bushes have dynastic ambitions. There's Jeb of course, and presumably the next generation has some potential politicians. Some of the Bush mother hens might be taking the long view.

Bush 41's no-new-taxes pledge fired up the conservative Republican base. He broke the promise. If Bush 43 is perceived as similarly breaking a commitment, that may well tar the entire family...in the Republican party.

However, the Bushes may be too arrogant to acknowledge these considerations (which, of course, may not be valid).

John Herbison said...

I agree that the president is likely influenced by his wife and daughters. I should speculate that Gonzales has agreed to ensure that Roe v. Wade will not be overruled unless and until both of the twins get sober.

David Blue said...

I think you've nailed it, Ann.

I think it's been a tremendous and legitimate advantage for pro-choice forces all along that upper-class women, those in the best position to sway decisions that matter, have the strongest self-interest in strict control of their fertility, and a powerful class interest in the legitimacy of doing whatever it takes to guarantee absolute control.

It's not what men think that matters most on this issue. And it isn't really what women in general think either. It's what the kind of women who won't tolerate the thought of "shopping only at Costco and buying big jars of mayonnaise" think that matters most on abortion, and that's what always has mattered most. That's why we are where we are on this issue. It's about class.

Bruce Hayden said...

Then again, this could all be misdirection. Personally, I like Gonzales as AG. He seems (IMHO) to be doing a better job than his last two predecessors.

Thomas said...

I think it would be an unfortunate selection, for the nominee. All the evidence suggests that the Democrats will attempt to destroy him--or, at least, that their special interest groups will do so. And it is hard to imagine the interest groups on the right bothering to fight back very hard. Which doesn't suggest a very good outcome for the nominee. (One is reminded that most conservative groups sat out the Bork nomination not (or not just) because they didn't expect the ferocity of the attacks but also because many of them (particularly religious conservatives) didn't see Bork as one of them.)

StrangerInTheseParts said...

I think Bush is defending Gonzalez now so that he will be able to pick him later on. Bush knows he has to come through this time on the Scalia/Thomas clone promise as other posters have pointed out.

But he has to nip in the bud any criticism of Gonzalez from the Right. Can't let that opposition cement now or he'll never get his buddy on the court.

As someone over at Slate pointed out: this aint' the nomination that affects Roe v. Wade. That happens with the retirement coming after Rehnquist's. THAT would be a good time to nominate Gonzalez for all the reasons Ann pointed out. Till then - aggressive conservative nominations are the order of the day.

Ryan Hatch said...

Hitchens' article on Bush's erstwhile drinking problem, which you blogged about earlier (see http://althouse.blogspot.com/2004/07/hitchens-on-bush-in-vanity-fair.html), mentioned Laura as the main factor in Bush's giving up drinking. Apparently she has some influence over the man.

ptonkid said...

What are the conservatives going to do if Bush chooses Gonzales??? He is their only option...what are they going to do, turn to Democrats as a means of revenge? The conservatives have no where to turn.