Okay, I admit it. I can’t be objective where George W. Bush is concerned. No matter what he does, I think he’s an idiot. Oh, relax, I’m not on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and at least I’m aware of my bias, that helps, doesn’t it? If Bush hadn’t chosen a woman this morning to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court, I would have screamed bloody murder. I would have moaned that all his lip service to equality was total bullshit and that he clearly didn’t give a damn about women getting more opportunities in this country. Now that he has nominated Harriet Miers, I am filled with cynicism and suspicion. Who is this Bush apologist that never served a day in her life as a judge? What in God’s name makes her qualified to serve in this position other than the Oath of Loyalty she clearly took regarding her devotion to Bush (look how she’s mastered the Nancy Reaganesque adoring gaze in the above photo). I may retain my suspicions about Miers even after she is confirmed (and I’m betting she will be) but I have to acknowledge that my tolerance of Bush is so low he could have exhumed Eleanor Roosevelt from her Hyde Park crypt to place her on the Court and I still would have smelled a rat.
But my job is not to analyze important political appointments with intelligence and objectivity. No, my role is to inappropriately look at such decisions within the context of mindless pop culture. Am I the only one to hear the name Harriet Miers this morning and immediately think of the evil Mrs. Meers from the film and Broadway versions of “Thoroughly Modern Millie?”
In that story, Mrs. Meers is the owner of a 1920s Hotel for Young Women in New York, close to Chinatown. Her impressionable tenants think Mrs. Meers is a kindly mother figure of Chinese descent. They are completely unaware that she is actually a monstrous Caucasian ex-con, secretly running a white slavery racket out of the hotel. Whenver Mrs. Meers checks in a new client, she inquires about her family status. When she finds a young woman with no family or connections, her eyes light up and she squeals in her fake Chinese accent: "So sad to be all alone in the world." Soon afterwards, Mrs. Meers chloroforms the poor unattached woman and drop-ships her in a large crate to the Far East. Kendall and I saw the Tony Award-winning performance of the woman who played Mrs. Meers in the recent Broadway production. Her name? Harriet (!) Harris. Also from Texas, this Harriet’s latest role was as a regular on “Desperate Housewives.” Harriet Miers has never been a housewife, desperate or otherwise, and I’m waiting to see how long it takes for people to raise their eyebrows at her unmarried status. The only reassuring news so far is that Operation Rescue and some other right-wing groups have already come out against Miers, calling her “virulently pro-abortion.”
But before we leave the fictional Mrs. Meers, how can I not point out the uncanny resemblance between Harriet Miers and the woman who created the role of Mrs. Meers in the original 1967 film version of “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” the fantastic Beatrice Lillie? Will Miers sail through the confirmation process with the same cunning as her film counterpart, only to start her own metaphorical white slavery ring once she is on the Court?
As Mrs. Meers sings in the play:
They don't know my flair for the dramatic
Not a clue, the talent I possess
Pretty girls, but not much in the attic
Face-to-face with genius, and they never guess.
They don't know they're staring at an artist
Highly trained to take on any role
Skillful mime, and brilliant laundry cart-ist
Seeking retribution for the life they stole.
They don't know I'm hotter news than Duse
Helen Hayes and Bernhardt all in one
They're on top, and I look like the loser
Wait and see who's standing when my play is done.
Oy. So sad to be all alone in the world.