Supreme Mystery

If conventional wisdom (and 12,000 blogs) are correct, perhaps the US is in for the mother of all culture wars. I have already heard the radio advertisements (admittedly via the free publicity of wonk-oriented shows), which amazingly manage to subtly suggest that the non-existent Supreme Court nominee probably teleconferences with the Pope each morning before commuting in his oversized, Constitution-burning, SUV. Opposing advertisements have and will continue to helpfully point out that the people who put on these pre-emptive liberal opposition adds shouldn't point fingers, seeing as how their morning routine includes snarfing down a fetus McGriddle and punching Jesus on the way out the door to their eco-groovy Priuses (Pria?).

It’s true that O’Conner was often the deciding vote on the court, though not shocking – there’s only nine judges, and that’s counting Clarence Thomas, who may debatably be just a really big cyst growing out of Antonin Scalia. But as much as I am interested to see who the president nominates, I really can’t get excited about the debate, which has mysteriously already begun quite publicly. First of all, these public campaigns ignore the major obstacle that most Americans won’t know anything about the nominee, nor what qualifications are needed to be appointed. The whole point of representative government is that we have regular, knock-down, drag-out arguments over elected officials so that we don’t have to deal with this kind of nuanced, complex proceeding. Second, isn't it clear that most politicians and interest groups have already formed a decision, regardless of the nominee?

It seems to me that the vacancy, while important, is just another opening for the same shrill partisan groups to have another go at each other. I don’t know about the senators, but it appears that lobbyists and special interest groups have already started their pitches before the “short list” has even been aired. While the Supreme Court does have a tremendous influence over citizens’ lives, it’s a muted effect, at best. Sure, there was Bush v. Gore, and Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, but there weren’t many other earth-shattering moments, and the latter of these wasn’t even a close decision. And think about the decisions that were just announced – how much press did they receive? At best, they played second fiddle to the gossip swirling around possible retirements, possible replacements, and other pointless rumors related to the cult of personalities on the bench. Let's face it, these culture wars are really mostly about symbolism, not about policies that will affect the lives of our citizens. I believe, though I can't prove, that in the end, the battle over the nominee itself may leave a larger impact on America's political landscape than the effect of the new Justice's legal decisions.

So I’m battening down the hatches for news programs filled with gossip-related slander, discussions of pubic hairs in carbonated beverages, and other meaningless rancor. Meanwhile, we can all ignore the deficit (budget, trade, or Pez), missing troops in Afghanistan, and on what, exactly, our Social Security Trust Fund was spent. I'll just have be content to make a few sarcastic comments, ignore C-SPAN entirely, and work on my sock tan. They're coming back, I swear. What do you mean, "they were never in?"


Blogger Hatcher said...

Good post. Small nit - the "Clarence Thomas" is a cheap imitation of Scalia is rather uncharitable; dare I suggest that it is even racist? Breyer and Ginsburg voted with Souter 80 and 84 percent of the time at one point, whereas Thomas had voted with Scalia 80 percent of the time. Why aren't Breyer and Ginsburg really big cysts growing out of Souter. You'd benefit from reading this article: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1282/is_15_51/ai_55234311

Black conservatives are often viciously tarred as house slaves, simply obeying "massa." It is dispecable slander.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005  

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