Sunday, September 04, 2005

Media, Liberals Should Not Label Themselves Moderate

Los Angeles Daily Journal, Sept. 2, 2005, at 6

In a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times, which, to the paper's credit, it published, I recently chided the Times for what I perceived as an attempt by them to change our political dictionary.

More specifically, I wrote, "The Times is trying to change our lexicon by replacing the dreaded word 'liberal' with the more palatable 'moderate.'" The July 6 story, "It's Not Politics as Usual With Gov.'s Judicial Picks," describes state Supreme Court justices as either "conservative" or "moderate," with Chief Justice Ronald M. George somewhere in the middle as the swing vote. The opposite of "conservative" is now apparently "moderate."

Or more blatantly, as if dealing with a bunch of morons, professor Bruce Ackerman, in a commentary, continually describes Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter, who is pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, anti-death penalty and anti-property rights, as a "moderate conservative" ("Bush and the Stealth Justice," July 7 Los Angeles Times).

Are we still to believe the media does not have a liberal (or maybe that should be "moderate") agenda?

Although I stand by my criticism of The Times, I recently discovered that I should not have singled the paper out. The problem is mediawide, with their pandering to professors from elite institutions - mostly liberal - and giving them almost exclusive access to the Op-Ed pages.

In a recent Harper's article, for example, law professor Cass Sunstein announced that "[t]he left no longer exists." The writer declared, "Justice John Paul Stevens is a Republican moderate."

Similarly, Tinsley E. Yarbrough's new biography of Souter is titled "Traditional Republican on the Rehnquist Court." (Maybe Oxford Press thought "Massachusetts Liberal on the Rehnquist Court" would not sell as well.)

I am not sure what a "traditional Republican" or a "Republican moderate" is, but I am certain that neither Republican category would vote to take a person's home and give it to a pharmaceutical giant because the latter could pay higher taxes. Republicans - traditional and moderate alike - tend to favor the death penalty, would not cringe at the mention of God in the public place and would tend to be against advancement of the gay-rights movement by judicial fiat. They do tend to be divided on the abortion issue, though most would not tolerate the so-called partial-birth abortion. Neither Stevens nor Souter fits this mold.

Likewise, professor Erwin Chemerinsky wrote in the Los Angeles Times, "[Justice] Kennedy has been a solid conservative" - one who, Chemerinsky pointed out, has voted to uphold Roe v. Wade and was the author of the Lawrence v. Texas decision (finding in the U.S. Constitution a right to homosexual sodomy). He also was the crucial fifth vote in the recent Kelo decision, authorizing the city of New London to take people's homes and give them to the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer (conservatives Justices Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, along with Sandra Day O'Connor, were in dissent).

Finally, professor Ross Baker wrote in USA Today, "No one doubts that the choices of Republican presidents will be conservative and those of Democrats will be more liberal." Stevens and Souter were both nominated by Republican presidents. They are hardly conservative. And while Reagan appointees O'Connor and Kennedy tend to be more conservative, Clinton appointees Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer are as liberal as it gets. So Baker's statement should be edited to read, "The choices of Republican presidents tend to be more conservative, and those of Democrats will be liberal."

I don't know any conservatives who shy away from being called a "conservative," whereas liberals try to avoid the label "liberal" as if it was the plague. Why is that the case if they believe that their policies and agendas are sound?