All over except for the shouting

For the second time in just a few weeks, the left has badly overshot in an attempt to smear Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. The two attempts reflect panic over what has from the beginning appeared to be an easy path to confirmation for the obviously highly qualified nominee.  The misfires have all but assured the next Justice's confirmation, in all likelihood by a wide margin.

First the New York Times sent its crack reporting team to sniff out anything untoward in the adoption records of Roberts' two young children.  The Times claimed this was nothing more than routine questioning, but nobody from the Times provided any evidence that the paper had ever done anything similar with any nominee for any office who had adopted children and was selected by a Democratic president. Don't hold your breath that such evidence will be forthcoming; it does not exist. 

Times Editor Bill Keller, who has adopted children of his own, acted as if he did not know the effort was underway. Maybe this is so — and Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd call the shots on the 'news' pages as well. Then again, maybe the reporters' efforts to find some damning evidence on the adoption, or its 'Team Times' coverage of Cindy Sheehan's attempt to stage a Michael Moore summer camp reunion in Texas explains why the Times has published only a single lame story on the Air America scandal, featuring a doctored quotation.

But the Times' overzealous stupidity in the adoption investigation pales next to the disaster for the left resulting from the short lived ad run by the pro—abortion group NARAL.  Their ad, which ran in Rhode Island and Maine, was designed to influence the three pro—choice moderate Republican Senators in these states Lincoln Chafee, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins. It was pulled after little more than a day on the air.

The ad all but accused Roberts of standing with abortion clinic bombers. His 'crime' was writing a brief while working in the Reagan White House which supported the eventual majority (6—3) opinion of the Supreme Court in a case that concluded than an old Civil War era law designed to protect former slaves did not apply to the alleged 'victims' of Operation Rescue (the women who had to walk past the group's protests to get into abortion clinics).  The media relations director at NARAL has now resigned, and fittingly enough it is a man taking the hit for the ruthlessness and viciousness of his female superiors at the organization. 

Several Democrats and liberals quickly decried the ad, Walter Dellinger, and Lanny Davis, among them, and amazingly enough, even the New York Times editorial board joined the critical chorus, though only after the ad had been pulled of course.  Knowing the paper had already badly embarrassed itself on the Roberts matter, it probably made sense to discard another losing hand.

It is entertaining to read the hard left on all this. Daily Kos attacked NARAL, but not for the ad.  For Kos, the real crime is that the group has endorsed Republican Lincoln Chafee in his re—election race for the Senate in 2006, despite the presence of two pro—choice Democratic nominees competing for their party's nomination.  So Kos and Company think NARAL are pansies. Kos (Armando, in this case) also slammed everybody from the left who attacked the NARAL ad.  Any straying from the true belief set — that Bush and the Republicans are wrong on everything, and must be brought down — is now apostasy. No mushy centrists are needed in the Kossack Democratic Party, nor years earlier in Lenin's.  The Liebermans and the DLC element must be purged from the Party (show trials might work).

The anger that has been bred within the left by continued Republican election victories is starting to drive some of these folks nuts. Kos slammed another Democrat for spinelessness last week —  Illinois Congressman Rahm Emmanuel, for the sin of not shoving more DNCC money into the losing effort by Paul Hackett in the open House seat election in Ohio.  Emmanuel has been called many things before, but spineless is quite a stretch.

While many of the polls continue to suggest that the President and his party are in the doghouse with voters, mostly over the Iraq war, the over—the—top rhetoric of the left's most important cheerleading groups —, the dailykos site, the abortion rights groups, as well as the sliminess of the Times in the hunt for adoption dirt — does nothing if not alienate the people who decide elections, those who are not particularly ideological, but have a respect for decency.  

One Democratic Senator, Lousiana's Mary Landrieu, twice elected by razor thin margins in an increasingly Republican state, now says she is leaning towards supporting Roberts. When a pro—choice Democratic woman Senator leans this way, you know how this vote will go. No Republican will oppose Roberts.  At a minimum, he will probably get most if not all of the seven Democratic votes of those Senators who struck the grand compromise to avoid the nuclear option. Even Robert Byrd, a fairly hard core lefty at this point, may not want to antagonize socially conservative voters in his increasingly Red state of West Virginia (13% margin for Bush in 2004) with a potentially tough re—election fight against Congresswoman Shelley Capito on the horizon in 2006.

But Roberts will likely win more than just these Democratic votes. He has charmed everybody he has met with so far. The hardest core Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, Schumer, Leahy and Kennedy, may vote no, but they think the kind of mainstream conservative Bush is entitled to appoint is someone like Justice Steven Breyer.  Democrats with political ambitions — Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Evan Bayh — will vote based on whether they think a vote for Roberts will cause any lasting strain with the liberal advocacy groups.  If Clinton appears to be leaning towards support for Roberts, some in this group might vote no only to try to position themselves to her left. Obama is not running for President yet, (probably 2012 or 2016), so has the most freedom of movement. The hapless John Kerry, in full campaign mode for another futile run in 2008, is a probable no vote as well, since he has clearly chosen the southpaw route for the next cycle.

But many Democratic Senators will have no good reason to oppose Roberts and won't.  Remember, that this was the tough open seat for Bush to fill— replacing the moderate O'Conner. With the impending Rehnquist departure from the Court, it will be easier to defend selection of a strong conservative replacing a like minded judge. All in all, Bush made an excellent pick, and the overreach of the left and its advocates are making this Court fight a very tame battle.