Perspectives Differ Depending Upon Who`s On Top

As a young reader of National Review, Commentary, and the Wall Street Journal editorial page, I had been a true believer in the judicial doctrines of strict interpretation and originalism. The Supreme Court shouldn`t run hog-wild in interpreting the Constitution and other law, I believed, but should instead sharply restrict itself to what was originally intended.

Yet when I read a full statement of this case—Robert Bork`s The Tempting of America—I turned against it.

Why? Because I had noticed a logical flaw in the argument?

Nah … Because I read Bork`s book in paperback in the spring of 1991. 

And, sure, his originalist doctrine would be a good idea when those rotten Democrats were in ascendance. But in May 1991, only a few months after George H.W. Bush`s triumph in the Gulf War,  it was utterly obvious to me that the Republican President would be re-elected in 1992. 

And with the GOP having 5.5 more years in the White House, they would nominate staunch Republican replacements for Thurgood Marshall, Harry Blackmun, and Whizzer White. (Marshall, a Democrat, came to the same conclusion as me at this time and retired, allowing Bush to nominate Clarence Thomas to the black seat.)

So, why endorse Bork`s judicial doctrine since it would impede My Guys from running hog wild when they`d soon have a huge majority on the Supreme Court and could do whatever they felt like?

My logic struck me as impeccable.

Is this the only time I`ve changed my mind expediently based on who was winning? Almost surely not—it`s just clearer in my head because my 1991 electoral forecast went so badly awry in 1992.

And am I the only person whose intellectual perspective seems to change depending upon whether My Team happens to be on the top or on the bottom at present? Perhaps. But perhaps not.