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Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Just Win, Baby!-I didn't give enough play to Dick Gephardt's comments yesterday; just about everyone on the right side of the Blogopshere has gotten on him for comments that seemed to have him overruling the Supreme Court on affirmative action via executive order. A bit of a debate has broken out whether Gephardt's statement was a bigger faux pas than Trent Lott's. Is inadvertently trashing the concept of judicial review worse than indirectly praising segregationists? Arguing the affirmative is Bryan Preston; Jack Balkin takes first negative. My first pass is to agree with Balkin; being a bit too flip about Jim Crow comes across worse that being a bit too flip about the role of the Supreme Court. However, what Gephardt seems to be exhibiting here is a manifestation of a common theme on the left; the desire to win at any cost, even if the cost is to gut the Constitution and the political and social infrastructure of the country. If you can't get your way in the political process, get the courts to write the law for you. If you can't get a majority in the Senate, fillibuster. If the Supreme Court doesn't cooperate with you, either ignore it or demonize it. Tradition and the rule of law are secondary to this spirit, for achieving their goals is the most important thing; the ends justify the means. I'm thinking of the old Al Davis motto for the Raiders-"Just Win, Baby." It doesn't matter how they won, how many reprobates were on the roster or how many penalties they took; winning was the important thing. Many Democrats have fallen pray to the Al Davis school of politics. Yes, there are some ruthless Republicans, but the life of a Democrat revolves more around politics that the typical Republicans. The political sphere is more important for liberals and thus victory is more important. Taken in that light, Gephardt's desire to give the middle-digit salute to the Supreme has more sinister implications than Trent Lott's lack of sensitivity to civil rights issues of the past. It may not cost Gephardt in the primary; in fact, it might gain him points among black voters who are in play in this race. However, swing voters might not like the idea of a president who's willing to play free and loose with the Constitution.

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