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Cheney for Chief Justice
By Bruce Walker
The Pickering defeat and subsequent Democrat posturing makes it clear that the necessary battle to reclaim the federal judiciary from liberals will have to be a political campaign, and not a refined discussion of legal theory. That means presenting judicial nominees who are actually political candidates, and it also means picking political candidate who is perceived as suitable to be good judges.
Most Americans are properly unimpressed by what insiders in the mammoth legal industry consider good qualities in judges. The justice system is seen as something of a racket, with lawyers like Hillary and Bill Clinton and with childish quibbling over issues like what "is" is or whether or obviously unethical behavior is allowed because there is "no controlling legal authority."
America needs more than conservative jurists like Charles Pickering and Robert Bork. America needs a robust Chief Justice who is unafraid of boldly confronting the ulcerated and rotten corpus of judicial decisions which have turned the meaning of words on their heads, twisted common sense into nonsense, and perverted the very concept of "justice" beyond recognition.
Vice President Cheney is just such a leader. His character, fairness, and competence are beyond challenge even by the most venomous liberals. Dick Cheney is one of the few politicians in American history to serve in leadership positions in Congress, as House Republican Whip and now as President of the Senate, and in the Executive Branch, as Vice President, Secretary of Defense, and White House Chief of Staff.
Polls consistently show that Americans trust and like Dick Cheney, and the more one explores his life the more impressive he becomes. He has been a success in the private sector, which is something few judges or lawyers claim. His wife, Lynne, is one of the smartest and most articulate people in Washington. His closely scrutinized life has shown not a single personal vulnerability.
There are only two "problems" Democrats could propose against confirming Dick Cheney as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court if that Court's second oldest member, William Rehnquist, announced that he would retire upon confirmation of his successor: Cheney is a conservative and Cheney is not a lawyer.
Both these "problems" can be transformed into strengths. The latest Battleground Poll shows that sixty-one percent of the American people consider themselves "conservative." If the Democrats battle to deny Dick Cheney confirmation as Chief Justice is based upon his conservatism, then Republicans should fight back hard ask the American people at the ballot box to decide whether they want conservative or liberal judges.
Democrats, not Republicans, have openly made ideology the deciding factor, and so what was once supposed to be an apolitical issue has been defined by Daschle and his pals as penultimately political. If it is a political issue, then it is a fair issue in senate elections. The general popularity of conservatism over liberalism actually understates the advantage of conservatives in the Senate, whose membership is based upon two per state, because the vast majority of states are conservative, rather than liberal.
Vice President Cheney's lack of formal legal education is another winning issue for conservatives, and another losing issue for liberals. The whole notion that the Constitution belongs to judges and lawyer, and not to the people, is deeply and widely resented. The premise that only lawyers can understand the plain and clear prose of our Founding Fathers is equally offensive.
Dick Cheney has more formal education in law than Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin combined. He has more real experience in government than any Supreme Court Justice in the last century. Cheney is smart, prudent, and fair - and everyone knows it.
Rather than defend his lack of a Juris Doctorate, conservatives should push the reasonable proposition that the best person to clean up the putrid mess we call a legal system is someone who has not been part of that system, and the Vice President should make a straightforward call for major reforms. Conservatives should proclaim his proven managerial skill in the real world as much better than another federal jurist with lifetime tenure seeking a promotion.
Let liberals defend the current legal system, and let them portray this calm, cordial, and candid man as some maniacal reactionary. Let deplore by countless anecdote and appeal to public frustration, and let us respond that he is the perfect choice to lead our highest court into the Twenty-First Century.
When President Bush announces that he will nominate Dick Cheney to be Chief Justice, there will be a position open in his administration. The President should announce that as soon as Dick Cheney is confirmed as Chief Justice, he will ask Congress to confirm as Vice President Condoleeza Rice. This attractive, intelligent, young black conservative woman is destined for bigger and better things within the Party of Lincoln, and what better statement to make that putting her in line to be elected President in 2008?
Placing her in as Vice President now insures that she will be the Vice Presidential nominee in 2004 Convention and the logical front-runner in 2012. Would Condi Rice win the black vote for Republicans? No, but she would bring in Hispanics, Asians, single women, and those wishy-washy moderates who need a reason to vote for Republicans. Moreover, she could provide America with almost fifteen years of continuity as Vice President and then as President in the increasingly important area of national and global security.
Making a joint announcement like this would put liberals and Democrats in a terrible pickle. Do they stand in the way of the first person of color and the first woman to become Vice President and then, almost certainly, President? Do they try to demonize the noble and wise Dick Cheney? No, they would crumble around the edges and then collapse, lacking any real point to their grumpy hisses, they would also look bad in defeat.
Dick Cheney is one of the best Vice Presidents in our nation's history, and Condoleeza Rice is one of the most exciting prospects the Republican Party has had in recent memory. Aside from the Presidency itself, there is only one office that would truly be a promotion for Dick Cheney: Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Placing him in that high office and replacing him with Rice would be a grand slam home run for conservatives.
Bruce Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.
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