Wednesday, June 18, 2003

In answer to my one correspondent on the issue of judges and ideology: My point was not that everything should be fought over tooth and nail, but that since our government is divided up by role and responsibility, using artificial methods to construct mechanisms we consider fair, and since our court procedures are even more rigorously formalized- where else is opposition actually mandated?- it makes no sense at all to argue that in selecting judges everyone involved should be able to just sit together 'informally' and come to a decision. That's the point isn't it? It's not political if it's informal? But if we want to be governed by laws and not men, then nothing in our government should be considered 'informal.' We all have a responsibility to our roles and obligations. The call for informality itself is dubious. It's the equivalent of saying 'trust us.' Why not let the democrats pick the judges then?

I think "Trust but Verify" is a good rule for how to go about selecting judges, that is until trust goes out the window, which it has. But a smooth process is and always has been a matter of political peacemaking. To say that our politicians are incapable of political maturity is not to say that some of their decisions should be informal and unpolitical. Every decision is political. If it serves no one to turn every discussion into a pitched battle, thet's not the fault of the game but of the players.

The problem with intellectual conservatism is that it tries to construct a logically consistent argument for two, at base, unintellectual and opposed ideas. Torn between freedom and obligation it chooses both, and refuses to come to grips with the conflict, trying to paper it over. Neoconservatism is a philosophical defense of greed, not as inevitable but as healthy and good. And at the same time for political purposes, it is used disingenuously to defend a moral conservatism that the celebration of greed helps to destroy. I have a great deal of respect for the anti intellectual conservatism of traditionalists. But for conservative defenders of capitalism who take themselves seriously as intellectuals I can only shake my head. Greed wins out in the end, but not because it's logical, or moral, or good, but because people desire what they don't have. How to limit their desire? That is a subject for debate. But arguments about whether judges are political or not or whether there is such a thing as 'high' politics, these questions are intellectually absurd.

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