The Blog

Bush Rises to the Occasion

The Roberts pick is courageous and important.

11:00 PM, Jul 19, 2005 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

WITH THE SUPREME COURT PICK of John Roberts, George W. Bush rose to the occasion.

The occasion was an opportunity to reshape the Supreme Court. Bush seized the opportunity, in two ways: He moved the Court a solid step to the right (to speak vulgarly), and he elevated its quality. It's true that Roberts is a Rehnquist, not a Scalia or a Thomas. He'll be a little more incremental, a little more cautious, than some of us rabid constitutionalists will sometimes like. But he is a conservative pick, and a quality pick--and, to my surprise, a non-PC, non-quota pick.

I had expected Bush to choose a woman. Indeed, I pointed in last week's editorial to several competent and qualified conservative women. But in preemptively yielding to gender quotas, so to speak, I made a mistake--and earned a well-deserved and well-argued rebuke from Charmaine Yoest at National Review Online, who said I (and others) had "conceded too easily" to the pernicious claims of identity politics. She was right. And the president, weighing a truly important decision for the country's future, agreed with her. By simply going for the best person, by not worrying about walking out to the podium last night accompanied by a white male, Bush did something important and courageous. He showed that he knows that on really significant matters, one has to ignore political correctness and political pandering, and even political convenience. For this lesson, as well as for an intellectually impressive and politically sound choice, Bush deserves a lot of credit. I unreservedly give it to him.

William Kristol is editor of The Weekly Standard.