Underneath the daily headlines from Washington, conservatives are waging guerilla warfare against a number of President Obama’s appointees, and it’s getting pretty ugly. At Slate, Dahlia Lithwick has the rundown on efforts to block the nominations of Harold Koh as legal advisor to the State Deparment, and of Dawn Johnson as director of the Justice Deparment’s Office of Legal Counsel. In both cases, made-up or distorted allegations by the nominees have migrated from right-wing blogs to talk radio and eventually to congressional Republicans.
It happens quickly and seamlessly, says Lithwick:
There is no rest stop on the misinformation superhighway. Some senators apparently cannot be bothered to fact-check the claims they have read in the blogosphere. And that makes the rest of us responsible for fact-checking them as needed and for getting angry when good people are smeared for views they do not hold. One needn’t read all of the thousands of pages Koh has written over his career to find an opinion or argument with which you disagree. But the fact that his critics must fabricate Koh’s opinions in order to take issue with them suggests that they haven’t read any of them.
Lithwick’s theory is that conservatives are going nuts on these mid-level legal appointments as a sort of warm-up for how they intend to proceed once Obama makes major judicial appointments, particularly to the U.S. Supreme Court. “If what Koh and Johnsen have been facing is a practice-sliming from the far right, we should be very, very afraid for whoever it is that someday merits their scrutiny at the high court.”