Althouse on Alito

Sanford Levinson SLevinson at
Thu Nov 3 00:50:16 PST 2005

>From a piece in today's NYTimes on Scott McClellan and his travails after having assurred reporters that no one in the White House had anything to do with outing Valerie Plame:

"I'm very confident in the relationship that we have in this room, and the trust that has been established between us," he said at his daily briefing on Monday, in response to questions from David Gregory of NBC News about whether his credibility with reporters and the public was in doubt. 


I think that the crux of the difference between Ann and myself is precisely over the issue of trust.  It is obvious that I have no trust in, say, Dick Cheney. (or Scott McClellan, for that matter, though I doubt that McClellan is mendacious in the same sense that I believe Cheney is).    I have no doubt that many of you on this list have no trust in a variety of leading Democratis., where trust is obviously someting different from policy agreement or disagreement.   (For the record, I've developed a significant degree of trust in Lindsay Graham, with whom I disagree on most issues,.  I now believe, in large part because of his statements with regard to torture, that he was playing it straight on the Clinton impeachment and was genuinely (and,for that matter,  justifiably) outraged by Clinton's evasions and, arguably, perjury, that by any account demeaned the presidency and contributed to further erosion of basic respect for our highest institutions. )   So the "constiitutional" question is this:  To what degree are we approaching a "regime crisis" because, as a matter of empirical fact (which may be debatable--that's onoe point of this posting), because there is indeed insufficient trust by the public in the basic good faith of leading political figures?  

 Since Vietnam has there been ANY administrtion that did not suffer from a "credibility gap" with regard to isues of deep and abiding concern to the American public.  (The only exception I can think of is Jimmy Carter, though some of you might not have trusted him sufficiently.)  To what degree can a constitutional republic maintain itself if large portions of the public (including the "elite public" who everyone on this list is part of) simply do not trust those who profess to be their leaders?  I have been focusing on presidents and vice-presidents, but we could obviously be having this discussion about federal judges inasmuch as a running theme is whether any  given judge can be trusted to "enforce the law" rather than "push their own personal agendas."  

Am I an outlier on this list in my mistrust of public officials (even if we might disagree on which officials to trust or mistrust) or do I describe a generally-shared perception of where we are right now in our political culture?  


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