Montana Politics Tim Fox

Guest view: Disillusioned by Tim Fox’s comments on Kavanaugh

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Tim Fox’s op-ed in the IR disillusions me. I had held Mr. Fox in high regard as one of a few remaining Montana Republican leaders who is an old-fashioned, real Republican of the type I used to respect. No more.

Born into an FDR-worshipping family in 1937, I have always been a Democrat, but not an extreme partisan until the Trump travesty polarized our country hopelessly. I worked with, admired and supported Republican Govs. Jim Thompson in Illinois and Tom Ridge in Pennsylvania because they were good to the universities I headed at the times.

In both states, I supported for re-election Republican state legislators who were pro-universities. While in Texas, I attended fundraisers for George H. W. Bush when he was still vice president and exploring a presidential race. (This was pre-Willie Horton).

As I watched in horror the Republican Party change so markedly, not just as a result of the Trump nonsense, but for years leading up to the takeover, Tim Fox gave me hope that at least in Montana we have a Republican leader with whom Democrats can work. Now he has published an op-ed full of Trump platitudes, and with some questionable logic.

Fox speaks of “interpreting the U.S. Constitution as its framers intended.” I am sure that’s what the SCOTUS had in mind when the conservative majority declared that corporations are people and money is speech, eh? Kavanaugh agrees with those quirky decisions that are pulled out of a hat to enable more Republican electoral victories.

He talks of the importance of separation of powers and a trend of “massive transfer of power from Congress to agencies of the executive branch,” and naively measures this by comparing apples to oranges, or in this case number of regulations framed versus number of bills passed. That’s an F on a freshman political science test. Sorry, I don’t have space to elaborate. But the point is, he is supporting the confirmation of a man whose writings consistently favor a president who is above the law — as in being immune to indictment and subpoena, able unilaterally to declare laws unconstitutional, and not be accountable. Why do you suppose a president close to criminal indictment looked for someone to nominate to the Court who believes in authoritarian presidential powers?

As Mr. Fox says, “A lifetime appointment is no small matter.” Precisely. A vote to confirm Kavanaugh is a vote to move the Court as far right as the Republican Party has moved, and to keep it that way for generations. Which is to say, a vote to affirm a full range of attempts by a party in panic over demographic changes and in a rush to lock in minority rule before it is too late — partisan gerrymandering, voter suppression, dehumanizing immigrants who are the wrong color, privatizing everything in sight, including our public schools and public lands, intensifying the extreme inequality in wealth and opportunity, and allowing (no, encouraging) capitalism to destroy itself, and along with that, destroy democracy. There is too much at stake to allow this nomination to go through.

Lawrence K. Pettit was Montana’s first commissioner of higher education after the 1973 adoption of the new state Constitution. Subsequently he headed a university system in Texas, and universities in Illinois and Pennsylvania. He is retired and lives in Helena. His memoir, “If You Live by the Sword: Politics in the Making and Unmaking of a University President,” was published in 2010.

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Nathan Kosted

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