October 18, 2005

Thou shalt not pre-judge

Bush and company have recently gotten a lot of mileage out of the o so insidious (and invidious) concept of "pre-judging." Bush is at it again here, saying that he's "not going to prejudge the outcome of the investigation"--that is, the Plame/Rove/Libby investigation. He was responding to a question of "whether he would remove an aide under indictment."

But honestly, what is wrong with pre-judging? Not only do we all do it, but isn't it an important part of our thought processes and long-term planning? Bush has a problem with long-term planning, it appears, but I would imagine he would occasionally do it.

Pre-judging is valuable insofar as it lays out possible routes for action based on a variety of probable outcomes. It's also called "contingency planning." If this happens, I plan to do this; if that happens, I plan to do that. Bush could easily have given the reporter a yes or no answer.

Similarly, it is valuable to know how a Supreme Court nominee approaches certain significant issues at this point in time. If it is readily understood that he or she may change and that no single issue should ever act as a litmus test, then I don't see the harm in asking someone to lay bare the types of jumps their mind takes to get from point a to point b. Senators probably aren't qualified to judge the quality of a legal mind in action, but I think it would be good if someone tried.

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