I have previously noted that some people are so far off to one side ideologically that they lose the ability to see where the center is. For example, there is Goodwin Liu claiming that Samuel Alito is too far out of the mainstream to be confirmed and then putting himself up for confirmation.
With this thought in mind, we read with interest this Flagpole
interview with Dahlia Lithwick, who covers the Supreme Court for Slate
. The interview eliminates any doubt, if indeed any remained. Ms. Lithwick has absolutely no concept where the middle of the road is. Regarding judicial nominations, she says (emphasis added):
It goes to [the idea that] the center has moved. I mean, the center has moved so far to the right that anybody who's... marginally to the left of Stephen Breyer is, you know, a radical. You see that in Obama's judicial picks: one person he put up who was moderately liberal was Goodwin Liu in California, who was perfectly analogous to most of the people on the Right that Bush put up. But he's been blocked, and excoriated; his hearing was just a disaster... he's been sort of painted as [being] to the left of Thurgood Marshall: a pot-smoking, hemp-wearing hippie. And, you know, he's a renowned academic... So, I think it's that ability to say, anyone who isn't in the center--even though the center isn't even in the center--is a radical and a socialist who doesn't love this country is just another really effective way of moving the conversation to the right.
But of course the center is the center by definition. The survey marker of the center is the median American voter, the one who had a hard time choosing between Bush and Gore in 2000. To be "renowned" in academia when the median academic is at least one standard deviation to the left of the American center, maybe two, is not any kind of indication of mainstreamness.
While Glenn Beck et al. do get overheated with their rhetoric, it is absurd to suggest that comes exclusively from one side. (Has anyone on Fox News referred to a female pundit of opposing views as a "bag of meat"? An MSNBC commentator did.) It is absurd to suggest that attacks on judicial nominees of the present Administration are worse than the savage attacks on Clarence Thomas, Miguel Estrada, or other Republican nominees. Indeed, it is absurd to say that attacks on Liu are even as
bad as Liu's own attack on Alito, much less to say they are worse.
BTW, I haven't heard anyone call Goodwin Liu "a pot-smoking, hemp-wearing hippie." I have heard people say he is way out of the mainstream, not moderate, mainly because that is true. The suggestion that he is no further off center than the typical
Bush appointee is preposterous.
But the real howler comes with her discussion of the Supreme Court press corps.
I mean, is it a good thing or a bad thing that we still cover the Court in the voice of Linda Greenhouse? That is, dispassionate and neutral.Neutral? Linda Greenhouse?
That isn't just funny. That is laugh until your sides ache with tears rolling down your cheeks funny. That is turning blue because you are laughing so hard you can't inhale funny.
Ms. Lithwick lives in an ideological Bizarro World and doesn't know it
It is one thing to be out on the fringe and well aware you are on the
fringe. It is quite another to be unaware of your position.