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Friday, April 02, 2004

Pickering Update
A few days back, I discussed the 60 Minutes segment on Charles Pickering, Bush's controversial appointee to the 5th Circuit Court from Mississippi. While fully aware that the corporate media frequently lies like a Bushie, I thought that Pickering came off looking very good. Charges of racism against him seemed to be pretty much unfounded based on what was shown and what he said on the show.

I posted this opinion on our local peace-group message board. The president of our local ACLU chapter, Mary Bejian, replied as follows:

I saw the 60 Minutes piece and was immediately suspect when it became clear they were only focusing on the sentencing in the cross burning case. There's much more to Charles Pickering regarding civil rights, all bad. Check out People for the American Way's site on Pickering and an article from Salon.com. Go to the website of any organization you trust and see what they have to say about Pickering. Not to mention, Don't Trust Corporate Media. Just because it's 60 Minutes doesn't mean it's reliable.

My response to Mary (and to you!):
Thanks for the response. After reading the info at those links, I certainly have more concerns about Pickering than I did Sunday night. But I don't see a real smoking gun that tells me that he is unfit to be on the court. (There may be one and I just don't see it, I'll gladly admit.) The PFAW stuff seems to include a lot of pick-and-choose stuff we're like what we're hearing from Bush about Kerry; I'm not saying it's wrong, but providing a one-sentence summary is not nearly enough to understand either a court case or a vote in the legislature. PFAW didn't provide links to the cases and votes they referred to, and their "complete case" page had less information than their "just the facts" page. It really looks like a political smear ad.

The Salon piece is somewhat more troubling, but mostly because of Pickering's apparent stonewalling of the Senate, not because of any great revelations about his past. His law partner in the early '60's appears to have been a racist, and Pickering may have switched parties for racist reasons. He refuses to concede these points. Background as part of an overall pattern, perhaps. But I can certainly see that his recollection of what happened 40 years ago may be a bit filtered. His partner was his friend, they lived in a society where being a racist was the norm, he probably switched parties for a number of reasons.

Don't get me wrong; I don't trust Bush, so I suspect that Pickering is horrible. It's just that I don't trust Schumer or many of the Democrats either, and if they're pick(er)ing the wrong fight, they're hurting their own ability to make a difference when the right fight comes along. And I don't trust 60 Minutes either; I just thought that they presented an excellent case, and it made me question my previous assumptions. Hopefully the Richard Clarke segment the week before had a similar effect on some people on the right.