Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Good Riddance and Bring It On!

I agree with Julie below that we would be better served by a top-notch liberal appointee from Obama. It clarifies things. Souter has always sent me into a near-rage, not so much for his liberalism as his mediocrity--and the incompetence of Bush-pere in naming him to the Court in the first place. Can anyone name one opinion or dissent of his that was significant or memorable? (Several are notable for their stupidity; he never seemed to have much influence with his fellow liberals on the Court.) Taney will always hold the crown for the worst Justice in the history of the Court, but Souter might have the second spot nailed down. Good riddance.
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Discussions - 15 Comments

Slightly OT, here's my fave sentence of the day: "The theater of thoughtfulness is critical to the president’s success. He has the knack of appearing moderate while acting radical, which is a lethal skill."

That's Mark Steyn over at NRO. I'm not one of Steyn's gagga fans, but that sentence really does nail it.

In speaking with a smart female friend about this, I argued that what we want is a naked Liberal . . . and then we giggled. Figuratively, not literally, of course.

Come on Steve, it's impossible to raise the subject of "worst" justice without immediately calling to mind Thurgood Marshall.

Souter to be sure left no signature opinion as a legacy, nor a noted dissent. His name won't be attached to something like a Roe for instance. But is that a bad thing?

During oral argument, Souter often made his presence known by asking some questions that indicated his brain was firing on all cylinders.

Carl, Steyn is right though I can't get too steamed about it. 1980s liberals would have made a similar point about Reagan. The question is how do conservative counter Obama. I would suggest finding ways of mocking his psuedodeliberation.

Pete, in context, Steyn is mocking Obama's pseudo-deliberation and he does it effectively.

Julie, is that a figurative desire or a figurative giggle?

I predict he'll choose a Arab. That king he bowed to has probably told him which one to pick.

giggle was literal . . . language was figurative . . . desire implies too much!

Kate, sure but conservative politicians and mass media figures need to do the same thing to a broader audience. I think that Obama is more diminished by pointed and good hearted satire good hearted satire (a really tough trick to pull off) than by frontal attack. I like Steyn. He has a talent for puns but I think there is something that is missing (and not just media bias)that keeps his kind of political humor from crossing over to the general public beyond the conservative audience. But if I were a Republican thinking of running for office, I might quietly solicit some jokes from Steyn even if I didn't use most of them.

Pete, that is a good idea. Isn't media bias reason enough? Maybe the liberals who write on here would tell us why Steyn does not capture them. Once, in the 90's, someone tried to get me to appreciate Al Franken and I gagged on him. Is he funny?

I find myself very nervous about what a "top-notch liberal appointee" might be. First question: are there clear liberal principles of law? If liberalism is about "heart" then liberal principles of law are not principles as I understand them. An emotional response to law requires an unprincipled approach to absolutes of law. All depends on situations and a fluid interpretation of law to suit those situations. "A female Protestant Hispanic" who is a liberal version of Scalia, is what I am hearing about and those qualities somehow translate to "top-notch liberal appointee" and what does all that mean in a person?

Kate, I don't find Franken funny either (well the Stewart Smally stuff was funny, I mean his political stuff). His political stuff was mean spirited and snide and I doubt he wins absent a Democratic tide. I personally like Steyn, but I think his humor is best appreciated by politcal junkies. It is a lot tougher to make political humor translate to an audience for whom politics is not much of an interest. Reagan was able to pitch his humor to a broad audience, Bob Dole (who had a reputation for wit in Washington) didn't. I think Steyn is better than Dole though.

Jack Handy was funny too . . . that was Franken, wasn't it? His looks are also funny . . . but now I'm treading on ground warmed over by his sorry analysis and that would be neither interesting nor funny.

Yes, about Steyn, I mean. I used one of his articles as an example of satire and most of my students did not know what he was talking about. If you have to explain, it just isn't funny. Some of those same students did not get the humor in a piece I pulled from The Onion on roughly the same topic, either. So political persuasion was not the deciding factor in the humor.

Trying to explain political satire when half the class is laughing and the other half is just looking puzzled left me feeling a mite frantic. Those were not my only examples; I tend to over-indulge in handouts. I began with Swift to warm up the crowd, but I had to explain that, too. Most knew nothing of Ireland. As to the modern stuff, I had been sure I was on to a good thing with Steyn on the Stimulus Bill, but, yes, except for those bright, politically aware and usually somewhat conservative kids, everything but the topic was right off their radar. For the half of the class with any knowledge, the whole period was a laugh-riot.

I began to see the appeal of low humor. At least everyone gets the references.

I wish I had not read Kate's last post just before going to bed . . . not that there is anything wrong with Kate or with her post. It's just that the substance of what she says is so darn depressing! It makes one feel rather like a hot-house flower now planted in a strange land. And yet, the astonishing ignorance of so many people (and students!) is undeniable. It is a comfort to remember that ignorance and stupidity are not the same thing. But then it is discouraging to realize that a good number of these kids do not and never will know the difference. What a terrible and unnecessary waste . . .

It is a waste, and yet, once upon a time no one expected a generally literate or educated population. Maybe we are expecting too much of human beings. Think of it, K-12 gets the young for all of those years and they still come out left behind, despite legislative and regulatory efforts. What I mean is, it might be a necessary waste. While ignorance and stupidity are not the same thing, they can certainly be linked. It is depressing to me that students can tell me sports statistics or all about celebrities, but have no clue how government works or anything about the economy they work in and so little about the world around them. Yet that is normal and apparently epidemically human.

So, if we must think that the Supreme Court should be somehow representative of a portion of the population, ...there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance?

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