Focus on the Family co-founder James Dobson has maintained that White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove did not give him assurances about how a Justice Miers would vote on abortion cases.
But conservative columnist John Fund of the Wall Street Journal (via Dispatches from the Culture Wars) finds that Dobson may have received assurances from two close friends of Miers, both sitting judges, both recommended to Dobson by Rove, in an Arlington Group conference call. The Arlington Group is a coalition of the political leaders of the major religious-right organizations.
In other words, Dobson is counting on a technicality to mislead social conservatives and the public.
One of the call participants took extensive notes, and Fund obtained the notes.
Mr. Dobson says he was surprised the next day to learn that Justice Hecht and Judge Kinkeade were joining the Arlington Group call. He was asked to introduce the two of them, which he considered awkward given that he had never spoken with Justice Hecht and only once to Judge Kinkeade. According to the notes of the call, Mr. Dobson introduced them by saying, “Karl Rove suggested that we talk with these gentlemen because they can confirm specific reasons why Harriet Miers might be a better candidate than some of us think.”
What followed, according to the notes, was a free-wheeling discussion about many topics, including same-sex marriage. Justice Hecht said he had never discussed that issue with Ms. Miers. Then an unidentified voice asked the two men, “Based on your personal knowledge of her, if she had the opportunity, do you believe she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?”
“Absolutely,” said Judge Kinkeade.
“I agree with that,” said Justice Hecht. “I concur.”
Shortly thereafter, according to the notes, Mr. Dobson apologized and said he had to leave the discussion: “That’s all I need to know and I will get off and make some calls.” (When asked about his comments in the notes I have, Mr. Dobson confirmed some of them and said it was “very possible” he made the others. He said he did not specifically recall the comments of the two judges on Roe v. Wade.)…
Ed Brayton of the Dispatches blog concludes:
So both sides play this dishonest little game of saying one thing to supporters and another to the Senate, using highly parsed language to give just a little wiggle room so they can claim that they weren’t technically lying. And it’s the same thing Dobson is doing here. The secret information he was given was the assurances that she would vote to overturn Roe, not the other nonsense he revealed. But he was careful to discuss only the conversation with Rove on October 2nd, so he can say that technically he wasn’t lying. But it’s still a deceitful game and everyone knows it, or ought to. And it’s played by both sides.