Man, Captain Ed is on fire today. He’s beaten me to the punch in revisiting one of Biden’s statements from last night which I touched on in my liveblog; namely, that he claims “credit” for introducing ideology as a deciding criterion for confirming judges to the federal bench.
The question from Gwen Ifill went as follows:
…Can you think of a single issue, policy issue, in which you were forced to change a long-held view in order to accommodate changed circumstances?
Biden’s answer, in part:
When I got to the United States Senate and went on the Judiciary Committee as a young lawyer, I was of the view and had been trained in the view that the only thing that mattered was whether or not a nominee appointed, suggested by the president had a judicial temperament, had not committed a crime of moral turpitude, and was — had been a good student.
And it didn’t take me long — it was hard to change, but it didn’t take me long, but it took about five years for me to realize that the ideology of that judge makes a big difference.
That’s why I led the fight against Judge Bork. Had he been on the court, I suspect there would be a lot of changes that I don’t like and the American people wouldn’t like, including everything from Roe v. Wade to issues relating to civil rights and civil liberties.
First of all, Biden cleverly shifted the focus of the question. He wasn’t “forced to change” his criteria for a qualified federal judge “in order to accomodate changed circumstances.” He decided on his own to use his position on the Judiciary Committee to impose those criteria on the rest of the Senate, for purely ideological reasons (i.e. to head off “a lot of changes I don’t like”). President Reagan was famous for railing against what he called the “imperial judiciary;” Senator Biden is to be congratulated, in a sense, for introducing the imperial Judiciary Committee.
More important, however, is what I alluded to during the liveblog: specifically, that politicizing the federal bench, especially the Supreme Court, to the degree that Biden confesses to have done is more something for which he might be run out of town on a rail than something to brag about.
Barack Obama, the self-described post-partisan candidate, has chosen one of the most nakedly and appallingly proudly partisan politicians in Washington as his running mate. That’d make a great ad to rally the GOP base, which is still sensitive to Democratic skullduggery on court appointments, for much of which Biden has just pronounced himself responsible. Or at least it’d be less lame an ad than one complaining about Biden’s sighing.