Wednesday, July 27, 2005

This just gets more interesting every day

In response to the controversy about John Roberts and the extremist Federalist Society, in which the Bush administration denied that he was a member in response to some initial reports, we find more controversy out today.

Monday a copy of a directory given to members for the year 1997-1998 surfaced that showed Roberts as not merely a member, but in a leadership role in the organization. Roberts himself did not deny membership, but simply said he 'didn't recall' being a member (remember how the right received that when Hillary Clinton used it in describing Rose Law Firm billing policies). So then yesterday, the Federalist Society itself released a statement on the matter by President Eugene B. Meyers. The statement, linked here, not only raises more questions than it answers, but reads like a carefully worded attempt to suggest (without saying) a plausible 'out' but never says that this is the case, and on further scrutiny would require a level of disbelief to even entertain.

The statement reads, in part, Membership is open to anyone who wishes to join, ...and our website lists over 500 individuals who serve as volunteer leaders of our organization

The clear intent is to suggest that perhaps Roberts was a 'volunteer leader' who was not a member (although I went to the Federalist Society's website and did not find any reference to the Washington area Steering committee, of which Roberts is listed as a member in the directory, a document which, unlike the website, is not public and is typically distributed only to members). Of course, aren't all of their leaders 'volunteers' unless they are on salary? Nowhere does it say that they allow nonmembers to become 'volunteer leaders,' and in fact I can't think of any organization that does. Think of an organization-- any organization-- and think about whether they would choose leaders who are not even members. That is patently ridiculous, especially for such a secretive organization as the Federalist Society.

What is more significant is what the statement DOESN'T say. It doesn't say that Mr. Roberts was such a 'volunteer leader,' we are left to assume that. It doesn't deny that Mr. Roberts was a member. Denying that any particular individual is a member IN NO WAY violates the confidentiality of people who are members. Add to this, that since the Federalist Society presumably, being in tune with Mr. Roberts ideologically, wants his path to the nomination to be smooth, it would be to his (and therefore their benefit) to issue such a denial, one has to assume there is no denial BECAUSE HE IS A MEMBER! Think about it. They go to the extraordinary step of releasing a statement about Mr. Roberts and the directory story, but then won't deny that he is a member (at a time when the White House, if you can trust them, are on record as denying it and Mr. Roberts is saying he 'can't recall.')

This story just keeps getting better and better.


russellkalltheway said...

I love Roberts' "having no recolection of being a member"?

What the hell is that?

Have you ever not been able to remember if you've been a member of a club. I know I was a Tiger Cub when I was 4, AND I WAS FOUR!

If he would just admit and defend his membership, at least then we could trust the guy.
Does anyone else see the connection here to Orwell's 1984 with all the conservative doublespeak lately?

Eli Blake said...

Funny that you mention that, and Republicans said that 'I don't recall' wasn't good enough when Hillary Clinton was asked about Rose law firm billing records (and that would be like asking me detailed questions about the grades I assigned ten years ago-- I probably wouldn't remember, as a matter of fact, but you're right, I DO remember what professional organizations I've been a member of.