Wednesday, November 02, 2005
# Posted 7:34 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
Well, I still don't know what Breyer is talking about. Whenever Stephanopoulos asked Breyer anything, the justice was careful to hedge his remarks by saying that his answer only applied to certain cases. While it is admirable for Breyer not to overstate the value of his theory, I was really left with no sense at all of how to separate those cases to which it applied from those to which it didn't.
And I still don't understand the theory itself. What Breyer says he wants is for the court to take into consideration the Founders' desire to promote active participation in government. But by whom? Citizens? Legislatures? And what exactly counts as participation?
Perhaps the fault here is mine. My knowledge of constitutional logic and history is clearly deficient. And I clearly need to read Breyer's book. But I still get the sense that Breyer should be able to explain his ideas better.
It's not as if I'm asking for a soundbite or an elevator pitch. Breyer had almost 15 minutes on ABC. Not enough to convert a skeptic, but certainly enough to clarify his stance. Which makes me wonder: Is Breyer's maddening subtletly an inherent part of early 21st centuryAmerican liberalism?
Certainly, John Kerry got into plenty of trouble because he couldn't reduce his message to a soundbite. And here's another example: Last night, Chris Matthews had Howard Dean as a guest on Hardball. Take a look at their exchange about abortion:
DEAN: ...all these abortion cases, that's a family's personal business. That's not the government's business. And we'd like to keep the government out of people's private, personal lives.I guess Dean should've said something like "Safe, legal and rare." But I think it's significant that Dean attempted to ground his position in a broad philsophical principle, i.e. the exclusion of government from family life, only then to back off from the logical application of that principle to the issue of abortion.
One might say that Dean's position is admirable. He is trying to return tolerance and civility to an issue plagued by divisiveness and resentment. Yet as a result, he comes of looking confused and/or disingenuous.
This is the Democrats' dilemma. (1) opinions -- Add your opinion