Free as a bird.

Notes from the political sidelines.
Nov. 22 2005 12:31 AM

Free As a Bird

Which turkeys will Bush pardon next?

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Rice claims her dream is to be commissioner of the National Football League. With each new poll, Bush must long for the day when he can pursue the job he has always wanted, as commissioner of Major League Baseball. (Full disclosure: I wanted it first. Then again, so does everyone else. Even Associate Nerd wannabe Sam Alito claims he used to want that job, back when he wasn't sure he could land a Supreme Court seat here or in Italy.)

When Major League Baseball and the Players Association agreed to tougher steroid penalties yesterday, the current commissioner, Bud Selig, took credit. But in truth, the league and the players only agreed to stiffen penalties because Sen. John McCain threatened legislation that would force them to do it, anyway.

In other words, much as Bush wants to leave the presidency to become baseball commissioner, the job isn't open: McCain's already got it.

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"Greenie, You're Doing a Heckuva Job": In addition to steroids, the new agreement cracks down on amphetamines—or "greenies"—which some players say losing teams use to spike the clubhouse coffee. Players will have to get their giddy-up the old-fashioned way—with illegal booster shots of B-12.

The only baseball man to complain about the new steroids-testing policy is the biggest name ever caught using them, Rafael Palmeiro. "It's unfair to get a 50-game suspension when it's not an intentional act," Palmeiro said. "This was not intentionally done by myself."

Palmiero's baseball days may be numbered. But with quotes like that, he has a new career waiting for him as Bush's speechwriter. ... 4:49 P.M. (link)

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Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2005

Elephant Man: Since Halloween, Sam Alito has been dressing up as a mild-mannered civil servant who followed his father into the family business. Unlike the nakedly careerist John Roberts, who bounded from one Reaganite political post to the next, Alito was supposed to have spent his youth as a career bureaucrat in short sleeves and a pocket protector.

Newly released papers from the Reagan library show that Alito was as much of a right-wing suck-up as Roberts. In a 1985 job application to become a deputy assistant attorney general under Ed Meese, Alito boasted of his long-standing conservative credentials: "The greatest influences on my views were the writings of William F. Buckley Jr., the National Review, and Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign"—when Alito was all of 14.

"I am and always have been a conservative," Alito promised. He gave a definition of conservatism that began with "limited government" and ended with "the legitimacy of a government role in protecting traditional values."

Alito strained to touch every Meese button, claiming he became interested in constitutional law because of judicial overreach by the Warren Court, went to Yale to study judicial restraint, became a prosecutor "because of my strong views regarding law enforcement," helped the solicitor general's office fight quotas and abortion, and applauded the conservative remaking of the bench under "Attorney General Meese's leadership."