Jewish World Review Feb. 5, 2003 / 3 Adar I, 5763

Raoul Lowery Contreras

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Advise and consent by smear | In his eternal search for Hispanic support and outreach, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle has renamed the President's Air force One jet, "Air Force Juan." Funny, huh?

On the other hand, Utah's Republican Senator Orrin Hatch delivered a solid 10-vote Republican majority in the Senate Judiciary Committee for Miguel Estrada, 631 days after President Bush nominated him to the Court of Appeals. Now, that's outreach.

This week, the man who mocks Hispanics, Senator Daschle, will stand in history's way by blocking a final Senate vote on lawyer Estrada's confirmation. He will dig in until Republicans peel off enough votes to halt a filibuster.

Presidential Press Secretary Ari Fleischer reminds us that there is no time in Senate history in which a filibuster has been conducted against any nominee to the Court of Appeals. So why is Washington abuzz with talk about a Democratic filibuster against a superbly qualified nominee to the court, Miguel Estrada?

Is it that he is a Honduran immigrant who came here at 16 to join his working mother speaking no English? Is it because he has a controlled stutter? Is it because he allegedly is an educated, literate Harvard graduate who is politically too conservative?

The New York Times and Washington Post are in a hysterical frenzy about Estrada. They are, because they don't know how he stands on issues they consider litmus tests, despite judicial ethics that prescribe no nominee comment on issues that might come before the court.

They want to know how Estrada stands on abortion, despite some abortion case or another being decided by federal courts every day. They want to know. They complain that Estrada has no paper trail to examine because he isn't a judge or a law professor with writings and opinions to examine.

Democrat Senators Charles Schumer and Patrick Leahy even insisted that the government release his lawyer's "work product" from when he served in the Solicitor General's office under both Republicans and Democratics. For that, in the private sector, they would be fined and sanctioned by the courts. California Senator Dianne Feinstein joined her colleagues in a McCarthyite smear attack in committee with anonymous allegations about his stint as a Supreme Court clerk.

These Senators are not alone. Puerto Rican lawyers criticized Mr. Estrada for not being "Hispanic" enough. Senator Schumer used that "criticism" in a hearing to bully Estrada. Seems Mr. Estrada took umbrage after a couple of these Puerto Rican lawyers attacked him and he told them to go to hell. Good for him, no decent American need heed radical leftists about anything, much less the certitude of one's ethnicity, or way of life.

Joining the Stop-Estrada cabal is the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund - MALDEF--(the funds come from the Ford Foundation and other left-of-center tax exempt groups). The Hollywood-based People for the American Way have weighed in with their Hispanics-should-only pick grapes attitude.

Then there is the all-Democrat Congressional Hispanic Caucus that is organized and run by ultra-liberals for ultra-liberals in order to provide quotes for the Washington Post. The Caucus is not run by Hispanics for all Hispanics.

True Hispanic American goals are better and superior education, better and prosperous economics and a tried and true good American life. Miguel Estrada exemplifies these goals. If so, then why do his opponents attack him and his accomplishments? Are they jealous, envious of an immigrant's success?

The Census Bureau reports that Hispanics are now the largest "minority" group in the country, bypassing the traditionally largest group, Blacks. Does this anti-Estrada episode portend a political bloodletting by those who consider America to be nothing but a Black and White country?

They do not attack Estrada because he's a Communist, a Nazi, a Fascist, a child molester or murderer, but because they don't like his personal and political philosophy. They don't like his Republican affiliation or the Republican who nominated him to the court. And, they find fault with his being a Hispanic American who has made it, contrary to how they want Hispanics to behave.

In the eight years these people were in charge in Washington, their President Clinton couldn't find a single qualified Hispanic for the Supreme Court to which he made two appointments, nor to the Washington Court of Appeals and only named one (Paez) to the 9th Circuit court of Appeals in California. Out of 12-million California Hispanics and hundreds of Hispanic lawyers and judges he could have named many to the dozens of federal judgeships he filled in those eight years, but he didn't.

The pliant MALDEF, People for the American Way, and radical Latino groups didn't object. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus didn't complain. In fact, that Caucus declared that they would stick with President Clinton "no matter what" when he was impeached by the House of Representatives, no matter the facts.

These people have no shame; in Spanish, they are "Sin Verguenza."

These people are guilty of several transgressions: Shameless bullying of a Presidential nominee and stellar former government lawyer; political smear by innuendo in the best Joe McCarthy tradition, lying through their senatorial lips and, one speculates, manifesting a deep-seated touch of 19th Century style Know-Nothinginess.

If Miguel Estrada were not qualified, accomplished, extremely well educated, or otherwise worthy, President Bush would not have nominated him to the court, no matter his philosophy. He is, however, qualified, accomplished, well educated and worthy.

It is incidental that his name is Estrada.

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JWR contributor Raoul Lowery Contreras is a columnist, radio talk-show host, and author of "The New American Majority, Hispanics, Republicans & George W. Bush" and "A Hispanic view: American politics and the politics of immigration." Comment by clicking here.

01/14/03: "Stabbed in the Back by Friends"
01/07/03: Minorities will be the first to die in Bush's "oil wars"?

© 2003, Raoul Lowery Contreras