Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Tide and Tidings -- King Canute Old and New

The king who silenced his courtiers by ordering the tide to roll back was Canute.

That was then. Well before the 21st century. A millenium ago or more.

Our leader is quite the opposite. According to both Time (Living too much in a Bubble) and the even blunter Newsweek (How Bush Blew It), President Bush is so averse to getting bad news that his courtiers...er...advisers are scared to take anything but happy tidings to him.

Aside from the finger pointing and the cries of "Finger Pointing!", there is the vital issue of what a President is for. The years in Congress or the city attorney's office, the doggedness of the primary or the irritants of governorship, all designed to groom a person to gain an understanding of all strata of society.

But when primaries can be waged by smearing opponents out of contention, and presidencies can be won by friendly having your campaign chariman double as the state's secretary of state, rubbing elbows with the common people becomes unnecessary.
"That," he said, "is what happens when you got rich people who never been nothing but rich people running your country."
* * *
John Roberts spoke without notes and without pause, a pithy and crisp opening statement. Most impressive. That was yesterday. Today he answered questions from senators, a rather predictable affair, save for Specter, who did ask him some tough questions. I think there is a special version of the Fifth Amendment for judges seeking confirmation. Instead of the usual "I respectfully decline to answer on the grounds that it may incriminate me...", this one goes, "If I answer, that would reveal my predelictions, so I respectfully decline...". John Roberts showed absolutely no passion. He did not seem moved by anything, did not appear to have anything dear to his heart. This may be a good thing in a judge. He kept on message -- one was not to answer questions, the second was to say that anything he had said or written in the past was on behalf of a case, and should not be construed as his view. At one point it got so exasperating that I was surprised when Diane Feinstein did not lose her cool. He basically repeated to her, in different words, her own question in statement form, making her say, "Basically you are saying this was the decision taken". Yes, ma'am.

In today's NYT, John Tierney, in his tongue in cheek Making Roberts Talk, says Roberts claims to like PG Wodehouse. In that case, he must have modeled himself after the Beach the Butler, or even Jeeves. He simply refused to be drawn.

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