I have been listening to C-SPAN2 live broadcast of a late night Senate session debating the nomination of Judge Southwick for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. I was appalled by the despicable spectacle of Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) giving a long speech resolutely urging the Senate to confirm Judge Southwick’s nomination.
Many groups have both publically and privately urged Senators to reject the Southwick nomination based on the Judge’s own written record of past decisions, which have been branded as blatantly racist and sexist. Senator Feinstein rejected these accusations against the Judge using arguments based on such claptrap as her recent one hour meeting with him in her office, during which she found him to be a personable frank and straight forward individual.
She noted his outstanding military service and praised him for being a sensitive, caring, highly qualified, capable jurist. She was joined in this odorous effort by Senator Trent Lott (R-Mississippi), Republican Minority Whip who is dutifully pushing the nomination for the White House, declaring the urgency for this appointment to actually constitutes an emergency, due to the long period of vacancies on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Feinstein is standing in tonight for Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader of the Senate. Senator Reid, as I understand it has brokered a behind the scene deal; in which the Democratic leadership agrees to help get Southwick nominated, in return for a Republican agreement not to oppose two other future (Democratic sponsored) nominations to the same court. However it appears that Harry would rather have Dianne do the dirty work at least in the public forum. If this purported deal is true, then I would say that the Democratic leadership is both foolish and naive to trust the Republicans in such a deal. What does the Democratic Senate leadership intend to do if the Republicans renege on their part of the bargin in the future? Meanwhile Southwich will be on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for life.
As for Senator Feinstein, the former mayor of San Francisco, I can only assume that she has decided that it’s time to retire from politics. I think tonight her words spoke louder than her actions to many of her constituents. The question is “what is the price for principle?” In Senator Feinstein’s case it certainly is NOT priceless!