Although I attended the official celebration of Greta Garbo’s centenary last April, her actual 100th birthday is this coming Sunday. Grattis på födelsedagen, Greta! One person who probably “vanted to be alone” today was John G. Roberts, Jr., after concluding his final 10-hour day of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was grueling because of all the hours he had to sit in that chair responding to the sometimes testy senators, but the only possible way he won’t be confirmed at this point is if he shows up on the Capitol steps tomorrow in a bra and a half slip and starts passing out martinis to visiting girl scout troops. I’ll leave the analysis of Roberts' legal mind to the political bloggers, but I have to say that I was far more interested in the extensive NPR radio coverage of the hearings than I thought I’d be—I couldn’t get enough of it. Roberts was a genius at deflecting questions that he didn’t want to answer but still managing to sound sincere. Is it possible that anyone chosen by our doofus President could actually be…dare I say it…a human being?
What Roberts does on that Court will have an enormous impact on our society for many decades to come. Am I a total patsy for buying Roberts’ frequent argument that he couldn’t talk about issues that might come before him in the Supreme Court if he is confirmed? Will I rue the day that I ever believed his assurances that he is not an ideologue? Can any of my ultra-liberal friends explain to me why we should be quaking in our boots about this guy? At first I thought it was outrageous that after Rehnquist died Bush quickly put Roberts up for Chief Justice instead of as a replacement for Sandra Day O’Connor. I imagined that the other Justices must be fuming that they were overlooked, like the time Mary Richards was mad at Lou Grant for bringing in someone from the outside to produce her show instead of promoting her after all her loyal years at WJM-TV. But then I read today that of the 17 Chief Justices we’ve had, only 5 were appointed from within the Supreme Court (including Rehnquist). Who knew?
I side with the Democratic senators on almost every issue, but it was sorta fun watching them squirm and moan about Roberts’ well spoken and articulate answers that didn’t really say very much. I thought Feinstein was going to lose it during the discussion of right-to-die issues when she cut Roberts off, saying “That wasn't my question! I'm trying to see your feelings as a man, I'm not asking you for a legal view.”
In the spirit of Andy Hardy Writes a Blog, it’s not hard to figure out what my favorite exchange was at today’s hearing. Senator Schumer was going ballistic about Roberts’ answers, altering his view from Tuesday when he said that he was “pleasantly surprised” by Roberts’ testimony.
“It's as if I asked you what kind of movies you like,” Schumer said, “and you say, ‘I like movies with good acting, I like movies with good directing, I like movies with good cinematography. And I ask you, ‘No, give me an example of a good movie’ and you don't name one. I say, ‘Give me an example of a bad movie,’ you won't name one.
“Then I ask you if you like ‘Casablanca,’ and you respond by saying, ‘Lots of people like ‘Casablanca.’” You tell me it’s widely settled that ‘Casablanca’ is one of the great movies.”
At this point Senator Arlen Specter, the committee chairman, told Schumer that his time was up and called a recess. But as the senators and the audience were standing to leave, Roberts raised his voice to say he’d like a chance to respond. After endless hours of evasion, he was finally going to answer a question head-on.
“’Doctor Zhivago,’” said Roberts. “And ‘North by Northwest.’”
Ha! As far as I’m concerned, you can tell more about a person by what movies they like than you can by their long-winded answers about cloning, executive privilege, or separation of church and state. I’ve never been a huge “Zhivago” fan but I bet the Senate would be surprised to discover the extremely left-wing politics of many of the actors in Roberts’ favorite movie. And I couldn’t help but think of a line that Rod Steiger’s Komarovsky says about Omar Sharif’s Dr. Zhivago:
“There are two kinds of men and only two. And that young man is one kind. He is high-minded. He is pure. He's the kind of man the world pretends to look up to, and in fact despises. He is the kind of man who breeds unhappiness, particularly in women. Do you understand?”
Hmmm. But Roberts can’t go wrong with “North by Northwest” and he’d get my vote on that comment alone. Still, I can’t imagine it’s a favorite among the die-hards of the religious right, especially because of the sexy repartee between Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint:
Eve Kendall: I tipped the steward five dollars to seat you here if you should come in.
Roger Thornhill: Is that a proposition?
Eve Kendall: I never discuss making love on an empty stomach.
Roger Thornhill: You've already eaten!
Eve Kendall: But you haven't.
Eve Kendall: I'm a big girl.
Roger Thornhill: Yeah, and in all the right places, too.
Roger Thornhill: The moment I meet an attractive woman, I have to start pretending I have no desire to make love to her.
Eve Kendall: What makes you think you have to conceal it?
Roger Thornhill: She might find the idea objectionable.
Eve Kendall: Then again, she might not.
Roger Thornhill: When I was a little boy, I wouldn't even let my mother undress me.
Eve Kendall: Well, you're a big boy now.
That movie is perfection. And by the way, did you know that Jessie Royce Landis, the actress who played Cary Grant’s mother in the film was actually 10 months younger than Grant?
So whatever my fellow lefties think of John G. Roberts, our next Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, at least we can be thankful he isn’t home watching “Knute Rockne, All American” over and over again. You gotta respect a guy who would rather watch Eva Marie Saint tease Cary Grant than see Ronald Reagan win another one for the damn Gipper.