I know it’s completely insane that the one thing that comforted me during John Roberts’ Senate confirmation hearings to become Chief Justice was to learn that his favorite films were “Doctor Zhivago” and “North by Northwest.” He blurted that out following a bizarre line of questioning by Senator Chuck Schumer, and not only was it one of the only questions that Roberts answered head-on, I still maintain that you can tell a lot about a person by what films they like. I’m not suggesting that a familiarity with the MGM film archive should become the new litmus test for Supreme Court nominees or replace questions about the person’s previous record, understanding of the Constitution, or opinions about critical issues that will affect all of our lives, but I’d sure be fascinated to learn which classic films resonate for Sam Alito. Wouldn’t you like to read a list of his 5 favorite films? Can we pass legislation to get all nominees’ Netflix queues placed into the public record? I can’t think of a better cultural Rorschach test. And it may be just as valid an indicator of what we’re in for as some of the other hysterical ravings about Alito that are coming from both sides.
Here’s a challenge: Based on your understanding (fear/panic/admiration/support) of Bush’s new nominee, Judge Samuel Alito Jr., what would you guess his five favorite films to be?
I’m trying to reserve judgment about Alito as much as I can although it’s frankly impossible for me to look at anything Bush does in this arena without huge amounts of cynicism. I tend to shy away from conspiracy theories, but now I’m almost wondering whether Harriet Miers was a deliberate misstep. Now Bush can say, “look, I did choose a woman that I thought would have been a peachy addition to the Supreme Court, but it didn’t work out.” And then, presto chango, he’s once again the darling of the Religious Right, who now feel that Daddy listened to their needs and responded accordingly. It’s so much more effective this way than if he had chosen Alito to begin with. Regardless of Alito’s qualifications, I’m creeped out by the groups coming out to vehemently support him. When I first looked him up on the day the nomination was announced, the first site that came up was the “American Family Association,” headed by Donald Wildmon and purporting to be “American’s Largest Pro-Family Action Site” (I can’t even bring myself to include a link here). They went ga-ga over Alito and they loved the fact that as an appellate judge he was in favor of a Pennsylvania law that would have required married women to notify their husbands of their intent to get an abortion. (I notice they didn’t mention the student conference Alito led when he was at Princeton that urged legalization of sodomy and curbs on domestic intelligence.)
What really caught my eye on the AFA site was the headline article accusing the popular doll company “American Girl” of “luring youth into radical feminist ideology” by promoting abortion and lesbianism. “We are asking people who care about little girls and about the value of human life to refrain from purchasing products and visiting American Girl Place during the entire Christmas shopping season.” Who knew? I never really cared for the company but now I have a newfound respect for Molly, my daughter’s World War II-era American Girl doll. I think we’ll throw a Coming Out party for Molly tonight. Maybe I’ll finally buy Leah that Samantha doll she’s always wanted so that Molly can have a life partner.
Now that Harriet Miers’ ill-fated nomination has curled up and died, we all know that there are NO other women in this country who would have been suitable candidates for the Supreme Court, right? We looked at every woman and person of color and we just couldn’t find anyone who cut the mustard, so we had to go with another white guy. Hey, you wouldn’t want us to pick someone JUST BECAUSE of their sex or ethnic background, would you? Oh no, that would be just the kind of unfair discrimination that we are all fighting against. And look what happened with Geraldine Ferraro. See! We tried putting a woman on the national ticket and what a disaster that was. Better not take that risk again, let’s stick with the white guys. AAAARGH. As a card-carrying white guy, I’d be perfectly content if white males were excluded from all Supreme Court nominations for the next 100 years.