Tuesday, February 03, 2004

1-21-04 Column 

Cal Thomas is a little upset about George Bush using a recess appointment to place Charles Pickering on the federal appeals court. Is Mr. Thomas upset because Judge Pickering is a racist tool? No. He's upset Bush found it "necessary" to use the recess appointment after Senate Democrats filibustered Pickering's nomination. Why oh why would Democrats do this awful thing? Well, to hear Mr. Thomas tell it, they're smearing Pickering as a racist "for simply following the law in a civil rights case liberals thought should have turned out differently, and for a 40-year-old article he wrote defending Mississippi's anti-miscegenation laws, when the state was a different place and Pickering was a different person." Apparently Mr. Thomas can read minds and he knows without a doubt that Pickering has nothing but love now for African-Americans.

Where to begin with this pack of lies? Well, the "civil rights case" concerned a defendant convicted of burning an eight-foot cross on the lawn of an interracial couple with a young child. The defendant faced a severe mandatory sentence, but Pickering took drastic steps like ex parte conversations and threats to order a new trial (without power to do so) to finally convince the state of Mississippi to drop the minimum mandatory.

Rather than "simply following the law", Pickering in fact bent over backwards to give a cross-burning fella (who convinced a juvenile and a retarded man to help him) a huge break. Pickering called the crime a "drunken prank". Perhaps the same could be said of Bush's recess appointment.

As for the 40-year-old article, it hardly even matters when there's so much other evidence of Pickering's racism. His involvement with Mississippi’s State Sovereignty Commission that was set up to spy on and intimidate advocates of civil rights back in the 1960's; his more recent lies under oath to the U.S. Senate about that involvement; his opposition to civil rights, affirmative action, and the "one person/one vote" principal. The historians have all the facts here.

So it looks like Pickering isn't a "different person" after all. Just your typical lifelong bigot whose gone from overt racism to covert racism in these more sensitive times. Reminds me of a Harry Truman quote (via Gore Vidal): "You know, you always get told in politics how some son of a bitch has really changed, but I've found in life that no one ever changes, except maybe for the worse."

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