Columnist Yoo

COLUMNIST YOO…. In November 2006, 84% of Philadelphia voters rejected Rick Santorum as their senator. Soon after, the Philadelphia Inquirer hired him as a columnist.

The paper’s decision to hire John Yoo, however, seems even worse. Yoo is, after all, the former Bush administration official who not only authored torture memos, but also took a comically expansive view of presidential power, including the notion that a chief executive could ignore laws in pursuit of national security interests. Will Bunch has a great item explaining why the Inquirer has made a terrible mistake giving Yoo this platform, and why the paper’s defense of the move is unpersuasive.

But I also went ahead and read Yoo’s most recent piece for the paper, which was the first to feature his byline as an Inquirer columnist. While it’s offensive to see the paper add Yoo to its roster in light of his background and alleged crimes, it’s also worth noting that Yoo isn’t a good columnist, either.

In his 2005 confirmation hearings, Roberts compared judges to neutral umpires in a baseball game. Sen. Obama did not vote to confirm Roberts or Alito, but now proposes to appoint a Great Empathizer who will call balls and strikes with a strike zone that depends on the sex, race, and social and economic background of the players. Nothing could be more damaging to the fairness of the game, or to the idea of a rule of law that is blind to the identity of the parties before it.

Like so many of his cohorts, Yoo, apparently, doesn’t understand what “empathy” means.

He went on to clumsily attack affirmative action, denounce “judicial activism,” and insist that FDR’s New Deal “never really worked” during the Great Depression.

John Yoo, in other words, seems to write columns that are about as compelling as his legal theories. It’s hard to imagine what the Philadelphia Inquirer was thinking.