Saturday, October 22, 2005

Of Straws and Men

Hewitt's response to Will's column, (which I commented on here), misses the point in breathtaking fashion:
First, I have to note that Will allowed his love of language to cripple his argument. "Incense defense" sounds wondeful, but is so bizarre in the context of an evangelical nominee as to raise the question of whether Will intentionally set out to offend.

But so do his missiles about "crude" people. Who are they? James Dobson, Chuck Colson, Jay Sekulow, Lino Graglia, Ken Starr? Four out of five are evangelicals. Does Will equate evangelical faith with crudeness?

And what, exactly, does "crudely obsessed with abortion" mean? Rod Dreher of's The Corner thought this Will column quite devastating to Miers' nomination supporters. Does Rod agree that seriousness about abortion is "crude?" Does K-Lo? Does William F. Buckley?

Will's point -- an obvious point -- was that the Administration's effort to garner support for Miers based on her faith (the implication, of course, being she'd vote to reverse Roe) speaks only to individuals for whom ends are everything. Such thinking is crude. And if an obsession over abortion allows one to sacrifice means to the altar of ends, well, then the obsession is itself crude. At bottom, the "incense defense" is an all but explicit endorsement of the notion, heretofore anathema, that aconstitutional policy decisions lie within the province of the Court. It is a rank confession that the only thing that matters is the appointment of Justices who will implement preferred policies by brutish force.

Will decidedly did not say that "seriousness about abortion is crude." Seriousness about abortion is terribly important, most significantly with regard to the legislative battles that will follow Roe's reversal. It is seriousness about constitutional jurisprudence that will bring those legislative battles to pass. Equally important, it is seriousness about constitutional jurisprudence that will prevent a return to Roe eight or nine nominations from now.

Confronted with a powerful argument concerning the nature and role of the judiciary, Hewitt erects a straw man. It is, as Will frankly remarks, not to his credit. I'll also note that Hewitt did not respond to Will's takedown of the "BWAE" (Bos-Wash Axis of Elitism) slurs he has so smugly levied at Miers critics since day one.

I look forward to the day this fight is behind us. I'm guessing Hugh does too.