Bush Should Play the Ozzie Card

Latin America is hot. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen talks about his native country, Venezuela, at every opportunity. The White Sox, baseball's new World Champions (there I said it), are one of baseball's most Hispanic teams. Hispanics are now the largest minority group in the country, numbering at least 40 million residents, and their community continues to grow rapidly (almost 14% of the population, and well over 20% of all children born in the US are Hispanic).

These may seem like odd meanderings, but with the Harriet Miers withdrawal, one terrific appointment the President could make would be to nominate Miguel Estrada to the Supreme Court. Twice previously, Bush nominated Estrada to the Appeals Court. The first time, the Democrats controlled the Judiciary Committee after the Jim Jeffords's defection, and never gave him a hearing. The second time, the Democrats filibustered the nomination after the GOP regained control of the Senate in 2002. Estrada became disgusted while left hanging, and asked that his name be withdrawn.

Estrada has a great American life story. He is an immigrant from Honduras, who came here with his mother at the age of 17. Five years later, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and Magna Cum Laude from Columbia University. He went on to Harvard Law School, where he graduated near the top of his class, and was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. He spent some time clerking for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, has had a distinguished legal career, and is very respected by conservatives. Add to this, his nomination would make him the first Hispanic nominated to the highest Court. But an Estrada pick would not be an affirmative action nomination. Estrada has earned a nomination. You don't become editor of the Harvard Law Review through ethnically distributed spots, nor become a Magna graduate at Columbia without hard work and ability.

Would the Democrats really want to take on a very bright accomplished Hispanic nominee? Filibusters of individual Appeals Court nominees do not get much media attention. But trying to block the first Hispanic nominee to the Supreme Court, an individual with a great American success story, is something else entirely.

Bush could strike several blows at once with an Estrada nomination. He would lift his standing with Hispanics, and minorities.  After the malicious media race mongering that surrounded the Katrina story, this would do him some good.  He would nominate a candidate whom conservatives would enthusiastically endorse. He would nominate a young Justice (in his mid 40s) who would likely have a long term on the Court. For the second time in a week, America would embarrass its most pathetic nay—sayers in Latin America — Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and Fidel Castro of Cuba, by showing how prominent and successful Hispanics can be in America.

Politically, a bold move like this would get Bush some much needed political momentum back.  Would the gang of seven Democrats who signed on to the filibuster compromise really be able to claim that Estrada is outside the pale of mainstream judicial thinking? I think Estrada wins easily if he is picked.

Richard Baehr   10 27 05

Latin America is hot. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen talks about his native country, Venezuela, at every opportunity. The White Sox, baseball's new World Champions (there I said it), are one of baseball's most Hispanic teams. Hispanics are now the largest minority group in the country, numbering at least 40 million residents, and their community continues to grow rapidly (almost 14% of the population, and well over 20% of all children born in the US are Hispanic).

These may seem like odd meanderings, but with the Harriet Miers withdrawal, one terrific appointment the President could make would be to nominate Miguel Estrada to the Supreme Court. Twice previously, Bush nominated Estrada to the Appeals Court. The first time, the Democrats controlled the Judiciary Committee after the Jim Jeffords's defection, and never gave him a hearing. The second time, the Democrats filibustered the nomination after the GOP regained control of the Senate in 2002. Estrada became disgusted while left hanging, and asked that his name be withdrawn.

Estrada has a great American life story. He is an immigrant from Honduras, who came here with his mother at the age of 17. Five years later, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and Magna Cum Laude from Columbia University. He went on to Harvard Law School, where he graduated near the top of his class, and was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. He spent some time clerking for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, has had a distinguished legal career, and is very respected by conservatives. Add to this, his nomination would make him the first Hispanic nominated to the highest Court. But an Estrada pick would not be an affirmative action nomination. Estrada has earned a nomination. You don't become editor of the Harvard Law Review through ethnically distributed spots, nor become a Magna graduate at Columbia without hard work and ability.

Would the Democrats really want to take on a very bright accomplished Hispanic nominee? Filibusters of individual Appeals Court nominees do not get much media attention. But trying to block the first Hispanic nominee to the Supreme Court, an individual with a great American success story, is something else entirely.

Bush could strike several blows at once with an Estrada nomination. He would lift his standing with Hispanics, and minorities.  After the malicious media race mongering that surrounded the Katrina story, this would do him some good.  He would nominate a candidate whom conservatives would enthusiastically endorse. He would nominate a young Justice (in his mid 40s) who would likely have a long term on the Court. For the second time in a week, America would embarrass its most pathetic nay—sayers in Latin America — Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and Fidel Castro of Cuba, by showing how prominent and successful Hispanics can be in America.

Politically, a bold move like this would get Bush some much needed political momentum back.  Would the gang of seven Democrats who signed on to the filibuster compromise really be able to claim that Estrada is outside the pale of mainstream judicial thinking? I think Estrada wins easily if he is picked.

Richard Baehr   10 27 05