One of President Bush's judicial nominees, Priscilla Owen, has the distinction of having been called a "judicial activist" by none other than the current Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, when they served together on the Texas Supreme Court. In a case in which a minor sought judicial permission to get an abortion without telling her parents, Owen dissented to write that pregnant teenage girls should essentially have to prove they are experts in philosophy, medicine, and comparative religion before getting a judge's permission to terminate their pregnancies. (The dumb girls, apparently, should go ahead and become parents.) Gonzales wrote a concurrence arguing that this would "create hurdles that simply are not to be found in the words of the statute" and would constitute "judicial activism."
Now that President Bush has nominated Owen for a promotion, however, Gonzales is twisting himself into a pretzel to explain away his earlier statement. A press release by the Committee for Justice cites at length from Gonzales' testimony during his confirmation hearing to become A.G. this fall. In it, he says that when he called Owen an activist, he was actually talking about himself. What? Yes, that's right, he was talking about himself because he felt that if he had ruled the way Owen did, that would have been activism for him--but if she really felt that way, then it was not activism for her. It's all very creative and postmodern, but it's not any more convincing or reassuring than "It's not you, it's me" in its normal "I'm dumping you" context. Here, its meaning is more "I'm dumping all credibility."