It's Not Unusual to be Fooled by Anyone (Especially a President)

Kathryn Lopez
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Posted: Mar 27, 2009 11:46 AM
It's Not Unusual to be Fooled by Anyone (Especially a President)

If you still think that President Barack Obama is about hope and change and moms and apple pie and nothing objectionable or radical, consider his nominee for head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Dawn Johnsen.

Her record sets off many alarms, with the most distressing sirens arising from her views on abortion. Regardless of what the New York Times might write, (they called her position on abortion "hardly unusual" in a recent glowing endorsement,) I'd like to think that you'd have to attend a wacky women's studies lecture in order to find people who equate pregnancy with slavery.

Johnsen is the former legal director of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America, in the hopes of fooling people). While there, in a case involving a Missouri law that limited the use of taxpayer money and state resources for abortion, Johnsen called restrictions on abortion "involuntary servitude," arguing that, with them "the state has conscripted (an expectant mother's) body for its own ends." This leads to, she wrote, "forced pregnancy," which is a violation of the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery. Pregnancy, she declared, "requires a woman to provide continuous physical service to the fetus in order to further the state's asserted interest" in the unborn child. She argued that a mother "is constantly aware for nine months that her body is not her own."

That's not unusual?

At the very least it's highly partisan, which presents a big problem. The little-known but highly influential task of heading the OLC requires being an "administration's lawyer's lawyer." As former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy explained the job, in a recent piece for National Review on Johnsen, "It authoritatively interprets the law for the attorney general and, in doing so, drives administration legal policy." It's the most unideological post there is in a presidential administration. Which is why Johnsen should be the last person filling it. Besides her radically anti-life past, there's also her record with the Clinton administration (where she served in -- surprise-- the Office of Legal Counsel,), a resume that suggests she's anything but the breath of fresh air that President Obama has promised.

McCarthy, in his case against Johnsen, recounted her OLC record, one that the New York Times, for one, chose to overlook. McCarthy exposed the "particularly rich" hypocrisy of Johnsen's recent condemnations of the Bush administration's use of executive authority, showing how she ardently defended Clinton's will to power when his administration did such things as "(invent) extraordinary rendition, (detain) Cuban refugees without trial at Guantanamo Bay, (conduct) warrantless national-security searches, and (attack) a foreign country without congressional authorization." But after Bush took similar measures to protect the country, Johnsen cried foul.

It's getting to be a tired refrain, but it's abundantly clear that a Republican nominee with Johnsen's past would be roundly thrashed by the pundits and the public (probably unfairly and slanderously so, if recent history is any indication). Instead, led by the lefty cheerleaders at the gray lady, we're engaged in a bout of knee-jerk Bush-bashing, while important questions such as who Johnson is and what she's said and done go unexamined.

If Obama aims to de-politicize the Justice Department, as he claims, by selecting Johnsen he has picked an ideologue who would absolutely do just the opposite. (On Johnsen's priority list: Making sure that candidates for Bush-era DOJ positions who were passed over for leaning left get "special consideration" in the Obama administration.)

Johnsen's nomination has been moved out of the Senate Judicial Committee on a party-line vote and awaits a full-Senate test. She'll need 60 votes to get confirmed. Remembering the circus foisted upon so many George W. Bush nominees, it's hard to believe that Republicans and moderate Democrats will let her sail through to the OLC.

Or so I have the audacity to hope.

The un-radicalism of the Obama administration is an untruth. And Johnsen's nomination plays a significant role in exposing the "moderate Obama" myth that many Americans have bought into -- most recently the Catholic University of Notre Dame, which is providing the president cover for his anti-life initiatives by letting him speak at its commencement this May.

It shouldn't be unusual to expect honesty about Johnsen, or to expect the Senate to take a close look at her. But we should consider President Obama's increasingly radical moves very unusual indeed.