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I intended to blog today about the new Sandra Day O'Connor, the mostly fictional one conjured up to serve as a bright counterpoint to the Democratic Party's dark version of Samuel Alito. The new O'Connor is moderate and pragmatic, a mainstream conservative (i.e., a centrist) worthy of praise from Barbara Boxer and the National Organization for Women, among others. But there's now no need for me to make this case, because Stuart Taylor has just done it, quite cleverly, in his weekly "Opening Argument" column in the National Journal.
Taylor has framed his column as if he were making a conventionally angry attack on Alito of the sort offered up almost daily by People for the American Way. Only at the end does he mention that his column is a switcheroothe out-of-the-mainstream decisions he has just attributed to Alito were actually those of O'Connor. Among the alleged horrors: He (she) repeatedly blocked or crippled programs to help blacks, made it harder for minorities to overcome white racial-bloc voting, narrowed women's access to relief under Title IX, supported a homophobic group's right to exclude gays, repeatedly pushed death-row inmates closer to execution, called abortion "mortally repugnant," tilted in favor of big business, and again and again voted to breach the wall of separation between church and state.
Taylor writes that his purpose "has been to illustrate how easily the tactics used by liberal groups to tar Alito could be used to portray even the sainted, moderate O'Connor as a fanatical conservative." He admits he mischaracterized some of O'Connor's votes, "but I have done no more slanting than many liberal groupsand some journalistshave done in their misleading campaign to caricature Alito." Amen.
See also Taylor's equally brilliant previous column on Alito (subscription required).