Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inaugural oath goof and right wing crazies

I’m going to spend the day listening to far right radio to hear if any hosts or callers think the Obama/Roberts inaugural oath goof is a potentially disqualifying technicality.

Some casual news readers may not know it, but there was a flurry of bona fide lawsuits, a couple of which actually wound their way to the Supreme Court, that still disputed Obama’s citizenship. They said his election should be nullified because they incorrectly believe he doesn’t have an authentic Hawaiian birth certificate.

Many commentators shook their heads in collective amazement. How desperate can these people be, they wondered.

Of course, it didn’t surprise me at all.

I’ve been a front line soldier against the lunatic right since shortly after Linda Tripp started shopping for electronic spy gear in preparation for girly chats with Monica Lewinsky.

Then came Ken Starr and the impeachment of Bill Clinton. I’d been a comparative moderate before that, but the foaming-mouthed hatred of Clinton turned me into a knee-jerk liberal whose knee jerks most liberally anytime it’s near a conservative’s crotch.

That’s why it’s not going to be easy for me to, as our new president so graciously requests, put down my rhetorical weapons and come in out of the jungle. Some of us -- right and left -- are so used to partisan combat that we’ll probably bivouac deep in the woods the way some never-say-die Japanese soldiers did decades after World War II ended and Sony and Toyota began was winning victories the Nippon Army never could.

Really, I’m eager to try. I’d much rather argue about sports or movies than the bitter tribal feuds that stem from political passions. And with Obama’s approval ratings in the high 70s, it’ll be easy to dismiss any haters as irredeemable crazies or mere lunk-headed racists.

Their reaction in the days to come will be revealing.

Truly, the inauguration slip was a fascinating gaffe between two super intelligent and poised men. It shows even polished public speakers can crumble when the pressure's on.

I believe Roberts, a George W. Bush appointee, is an outstanding Supreme Court justice. He meets the one litmus test Bush skipped when he tabbed starry-eyed flunkey Harriet Miers.

The man is smart. That’s all I want from my top judges, no matter their party backgrounds. I disagree with most everything Antonin Scalia writes, but it’s always reasoned.

That’s why I’m eager to read more about how Roberts goofed administering the oath to Obama. It was the first time Roberts ever conducted the ceremony and the first time any Supreme Court justice administered the 35-word oath to a senator who’d voted against his confirmation.

To me, the most amazing aspect was, with all he has to think about, Obama precisely knew the oath and knew to pause and prompt Roberts that he was stumbling.

Had it been most anyone else in the world it, we would have simply aped whatever Roberts was saying, and it would have turned into the scene from “Animal House” when Delta pledge master Hoover, playing the Roberts part, awkwardly says, “I, state your name . . .”

And the dimwit pledges numbly reply, “I, state your name . . .”

It didn’t matter. They all became Delta pledges. Beneath the slapstick humor, the movie is at its heart a morality tale about how the carefree Deltas triumph over the uptight, holier-than-thou Alphas who think they are so superior they can dictate how the rest of the world should behave.

For those who’ve never seen the movie the whole way through, the dippy Deltas go on to fulfilling and mostly distinguished careers. Heck, one of them even becomes a U.S. Senator.

As for the hated Alphas, well, they’re probably spending today dialing into right wing talk shows to nitpick about constitutional minutia.

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