Mock Letters To Bush, Pretend Speeches For Bush,
And Reactionary Judges

Dean Lawrence R. Velvel

Last Sunday my wife informed me that she had heard the sometimes estimable Ben Stein deliver a commentary on the CBS TV show called Sunday Morning.  (On that same day Stein had an excellent article in the Business Section of The New York Times.)  My informant said that the commentary took the form of a proposed speech to the American people about Iraq, a speech in which Bush conceded to a mistake, a well meant mistake but a terrible mistake nonetheless, took responsibility for the mistake, and told of plans to have a blue ribbon committee give him a recommendation in one month on what to do, with all options being on the table.

One has often read columns that pretended to be either letters to Bush about what he should do now with regard to Iraq or talks Bush should give to the American people about Iraq.  One has often seen, in other words, the kind of format used on television by the sometimes estimable Ben Stein.  The question which arises from use of the mock letters or mock speech format is “why?”  Why do pundits create mock speeches for Bush to give confessing error and saying how the situation will be rescued?  Why do pundits write mock letters of this character to Bush?  Can these pundits really think Bush will give their speeches or heed the views in their letters? -- Can they seriously believe such a thing?  Do they not understand that Bush is an obstinate (unintelligent) man whose views and feet are set in concrete, a man who is not going to back off his obdurate views even when confronted with powerful facts and ideas, let alone when “confronted” merely by some fake letter or fake speech?

One gets the impression that the egomaniac pundits really do think Bush will heed their letters or give their speeches.  One gets this (insane) impression even though one knows it far more rational to believe that the pundits are merely using the format of a letter or a proposed speech as a “writing vehicle,” as a stylized way of saying what they wish to say.  But in that case, why use such a vehicle?  Why not just say, in normal expository language, that George effed up big time and it is time to lay plans to get out?   Do the pundits think a fake letter or fake speech will be more effective, and that this is true even though the supposed letters or speeches are just more of the fakery which pervades America’s public life?  I really have no answers to these questions.

* * * * *

Now to a different subject.  In the most recent issue of a national legal newspaper called The National Law Journal there is a front page article about political criticisms of federal judges (for supposedly being too liberal), and Bush’s reactionary desire to push through  nominees who, in polite language, are deeply conservative and who, in more accurate language, are right wing wackos.  The level of “criticism has so polarized relations between Congress and the judicial branch,” said the NLJ, “that retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Bush’s own Chief Justice, John G. Roberts, Jr., have warned that judicial independence may be at risk.”  Some reactionaries, on the other hand, say things such as “much of the criticism is warranted.”

What one does not read, however, is what is regarded by this writer as the truth.  Bitter criticism of the federal courts is warranted; it is warranted from top to bottom, from the Supreme Court to district courts.  But not because federal judges are too liberal.  Rather, because way too many of them are despicably reactionary.  Some of their misbegotten reactionary decisions have been discussed here in recent months, and I shall not take time now to elaborate again on those (or other) decisions.  For the only point one wishes to make now is that, if there is going to be criticism of the federal courts, let’s have some from the truthful standpoint, let’s have some that hammers at their plethora of unjust reactionary decisions.

This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel.  If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at  Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.

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Harvard Square Commentary, November 6, 2006