Columns » Bob McCord

Get back to business

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Let’s hope that the Senate Democrats in this futile Congress of ours won’t spend much time in arguments trying to keep John G. Roberts Jr. from becoming the new member of the Supreme Court. The president, the senators and the representatives have had more vacations than I can remember, and none of the main problems have been solved. Maybe the president needs a long vacation, but the lawmakers should be working every day to force the Bush administration to bring our soldiers out of Iraq. Senators and representatives of both parties ought to be trying to find the answer to end of this war. Some must remember that it was Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas who was the first one to finally convince President Lyndon Johnson that it was a mistake for the United States to send American soldiers to help South Vietnam try to defeat North Vietnam. There also are many national problems: The ridiculous price of gasoline, a minimum wage that hasn’t been raised in nine years, the hundreds of illegal immigrants sneaking daily into our country, the outrageous costs of health care and medicine and people losing jobs because many companies are moving to other countries. Forbes magazine tells us that the chiefs of America’s 500 largest companies enjoyed a 54 percent raise in compensation last year while syndicated columnist Paul Krugman says the salaries of people with nonsupervisory jobs have dropped 1.5 percent in pay for two years. The truth is that naming Roberts, age 50, for the Supreme Court is really a better decision than what we expect of President Bush. Compared to several judges that the president has promoted for lower courts, Roberts looks good. He’s a summa cum laude from Harvard and was hired as a clerk for Appellate Judge Henry Friendly, who was considered one of the finest appellate judges, and later he also was a clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He worked at the White House during the Reagan administration, joined a large Washington law firm earning much money arguing cases before the Supreme Court. And now he’s a judge of the Court of Appeals. Few if any of the eight judges now on the Supreme Court had backgrounds as good as Roberts. After all, 98 of the 112 persons who have been on the Supreme Court were members of the same party of the president who nominated them. Washington reporter Jules Witcover says that from 1900 only 12 nominees were voted down by the senators and nine decided not to take the offer. Democratic Party leaders seem closer to the bottom than any time I can remember. Even though he didn’t win, after Barry Goldwater’s enthusiastic campaign in 1964 and the pain of the Vietnam War, the Republicans realized they could win and started signing up dissatisfied Democrats — Southerners, disgusted union members, church-going fundamentalists and young couples making enough money to join country clubs. As we now know, things are changed because the leaders of the Democrats simply don’t understand what has happened. From 1969 to 2005, the nation has been run only 12 years by a Democrat president ... Donald Kaul, whose fine columns used to appear in the old Arkansas Gazette, says the Democrats just whine and call the Republicans names. But, he writes, they need to understand the adage “To the victors belong the spoils, not the victims.” Jimmy Carter is still the man he was when he was president and always put his country first. His great goal was human rights. He probably would have been elected for another term except for the crossways he had with Iran’s rulers who then captured the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and didn’t release American hostages until the inauguration day of his successor. Despite this, Carter is judged by political scientists as 19th in leadership among all American presidents, including Bush senior (22nd) and Bill Clinton (23rd). Last week he showed his character again when he wrote a letter asking the government not to move to Georgia, his home state, the Naval Submarine Base in Groton, Conn., and a shipyard in Kittery, Me., which have been there since 1868. His view prevailed and many in Georgia are furious. A son of a poor family, Carter joined the Navy in World War II and served in combat in the Pacific. One of Carter’s arguments for not moving the installations was that the area of the nation would be without a military installation. Carter always thinks more about the entire country instead of states, towns or areas. This is not popular these days and it’s too bad. Democrats really ought to think about it.

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