Age before beauty.

Notes from the political sidelines.
Dec. 8 2005 2:03 PM

Age Before Beauty

Impotence is as impotence does.

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While at first glance those tax cuts may look like another dose of Viagra, they're really an admission of failure. As David Brooks points out ($), after years in office, conservatism is fat, unattractive, and out of steam. One can just imagine aging conservatives looking themselves in the mirror Monday morning and saying, "Who are we kidding? We lost interest in cutting government long ago."

Then again, maybe Americans are just tired of the choices being presented. Five years of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have made them suspicious of political Viagra. But Bush's penchant for failure—in Iraq, in Washington, in New Orleans—has made people weary of American impotence as well.

Against that backdrop, we can take comfort in an aging society's mature decision to shrug its shoulders at dysfunction. No matter what the politicians or the drug makers tell us, failure is their problem, not ours. ... 1:59 P.M. (link)

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Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2005

Ho-Ho-Ho: Just when you thought the nation's political debate couldn't get any shallower, the New York Times reports that the right wing has a new sales pitch for Samuel Alito: He's the judge who'll save Christmas.

"This is going to be the dominant theme on the Alito nomination until the end of the year," Bush ally Jay Sekulow told the Times. "The convergence of a Supreme Court nomination, the Christmas season, and a judge who has a well-staked-out position on support for religious expression."

After weeks of having to defend Alito's personal beliefs on issues certain to come before the Supreme Court, such as civil liberties and abortion, conservatives are bursting with holiday joy over the prospect of magically conjuring a fake issue out of thin air, like Frosty the Snowman. "It is something that the other side can't really join or debate because they come out looking like the Grinch," says Manuel Miranda, the conservative who iced Harriet Miers.

Now we see the sum total of what conservatives have learned from two decades of judicial battles: Bork would have been perfect if he'd just put on the Santa suit.

Apart from changing the subject, the right's goal is to show that, like so many others who have saved Christmas over the years—Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Tiny Tim, Herbie the Dentist—Alito is more sympathetic than the enemy. Sure, he might subject Cindy Lou Who to a strip search, but he won't let some longhair stop the singing of "Fah who ramus" down in Whoville town square.

As the Washington Post reported this weekend, conservative groups "plan a major push beginning Monday to portray Alito's opponents as anti-God." Of course, liberal groups will have to work overtime to out-crank some of Alito's supporters, like Pat Robertson, who interrupted an interview with the author of The War on Christmas to observe that Kwanzaa is a Marxist "total fraud."

Conservatives suggest that Alito's opponents would filibuster the nomination of God Himself to the court. The right wing seems to have forgotten the scale of Alito's own ambitions. His high-school newspaper once jokingly reported, "SAM ALITO DEFEATS GOD IN LANDSLIDE ELECTION FOR RULER OF THE UNIVERSE."

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