Notes From Babel

Another Sacramento Bee Hit-and-Run on Eastman

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The Bee continues to run hit pieces against Eastman. (See last week’s edition here.) The question is, if the Bee really does believe that Eastman’s chances are so slim, why does it go on spending its resources attacking him? The reason is probably suggested in the final paragraph of Dan Morain’s piece when he opines on what the “decline-to-state voters” are likely to think of Eastman. That is, Morain and his ilk hope that undecided voters will think less of Eastman (once the Bee is finished heaping scorn on him, that is) than they do the Democrats who have led our state into fiscal ruin.

However, Morain’s indictments are thin—and contrived at that. For one thing, Morain cannot impugn Eastman for supporting Prop 8 without at the same time impugning the 52% of Californians who supported it along with him. And whether you support Prop 8 or not, the lawsuit asking an unelected judge to overturn a duly-enacted amendment to the California Constitution is repugnant to the idea of an ordered liberty under the rule of law.

This is what happened in Iowa, which I discussed here. In short, the problem with cheering for judicial usurpations when they go your way is that, soon and inevitiably, you will be left lamenting further usurpations that don’t go your way. And in fact, Morain does go on to lament the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent rulings upholding the First Amendment in Citizens United and the Second Amendment in Heller—decisions that didn’t go Morain’s way.

Morain’s piece is an example of what criticism looks like when there is no underlying principle. Sound legal principles are sorely needed in California after decades of slipshod work-arounds and compromises. Shame that the Bee would rather do hit-and-run jobs with candidates who offer that than go toe-to-toe on the issues that really matter to Californians.

UPDATE: Commenter BarclaysMan asks what possible justification there might be to decline to extend entry to the institution of marriage to homosexuals, and that homosexuals simply seek admission into the legal institution in order to be mainstream.  I responded as follows:

I’ve written a post here that illustrates why this issue should be left to a vote, and why the result of that vote should be honored. In short, discrimination is permitted unless it cam be demonstrated that animus was the motivation for that discrimination. For the state of Iowa, that was not the case.

I also disagree with your second premise–that homosexuals want nothing more than to share in the same institution of marriage as everyone else. In my review of Why Gay People Get Married, I point out that M.V. Lee Badget acknowledges, perhaps unwittingly, that homosexuals are by no means unanimous in their motivation for seeking admission to the institution of marriage. At least many of the early adopters in the Netherlands wanted to put their finger in the eye of the mainstream community as much as anything else. If homosexuals want to change society, have at it. When they seek to do it through our legal processes, the mainstream gets a say. So far, the mainstream has declined, as is their right.

UPDATE 2: I also forgot to point out that Morain’s piece is disingenuous to the extent he suggests that Hugh Hewitt only has conservative guests on his show.  In fact, to the extent Hewitt “regularly features Eastman on his show,” it is on the “Smart Guys” segment in which he debates constitutional law issues with Erwin Chemerinsky, the liberal dean of UCI’s law school.  Hewitt also regularly has lefties Jonathan Chait and E.J. Dionne on his program.  When I could stomach listening to AirAmerica—the now-defunct progressive radio station in the LA area—I never heard any reputable conservative guests featured on the shows.  It was all standard DJ 3000 fare, with a lot of hootin’ and hollerin’ and clown horn noises and three distinct varieties of inane chatter.

UPDATE 3: Dan Morain wrote another piece on Eastman here, accusing Eastman of being thin-skinned for suggesting Morain’s previous article was an unwarranted attack against him.  I responded as follows:

Mr. Morain:

As I pointed out in my critique of your column, the problem with your piece is not the fact that you disagree with Eastman’s politics. Instead, the problem is your refusal to support your disagreements with anything more than unexplained and out of context quotations and political talking points. It is true that newspapers in the Founding era was deeply engaged in and central to political discourse. The Federalist Papers were first published in three New York newspapers, and continue to stand as arguably the most important body of work on political theory ever written.

Your editorial poses little risk to dethrone the Federalist Papers in that regard. It fails to present an opportunity for anyone who disagrees with your politics to reconsider their own positions. It is not an engaging or interesting. It is, quite simply, a hit-job.

Ironically, in accusing the GOP declining into obscurity, your piece offers a prime example of exactly how newspapers are doing just that. We would all be better served if the media would put away the pom-poms and join a reasoned debate on the issues.

UPDATE 4: Frank Mickadeit gets in on the action here.

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Written by Tim Kowal

April 7, 2010 at 11:10 am

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