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The Tally Ho

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Zorn, Dred Scott, and Fish Eyes

Cripes, he's a quick reader. AND, he has my initials! Eric Zorn,* in his Notebook today, quotes Steven Lubet about Bush's mysterious Dred Scott response in the debate on Friday. (Plus, look for Leigh Anne's Quiet Coyote mention...) However, Timothy Noah in his article at Slate.com offers another theory on why Bush and his wrong-headed constitutionalism might have brought Dred Scott into the fray. The anti-choice lunatic fringe would like to see Roe go the way of Dred Scott, and are the only other group besides us militant feminists who would be paying much attention to the question on Court appointments. Bush may have been advised to bring up the Dred Scott case, but, being Bush, he managed to mangle the Court's reasoning on that decision and say it was because they were terrible, activist judges. The "strict Constitutionalists" that he pledges to nominate would again uphold Dred Scott, given an 1857 Constitution.

And here's the best part: we probably shouldn't talk about it. The people that Bush was actually addressing don't care about strict Constitutionalism, at least not as it applies to God and currency. They want Roe overturned, and Griswold vs. Connecticut (which legalized birth control for married couples in 1965) if they can get it. Griswold is the root of the problem, because it extrapolates from the Bill of Rights a "zone of privacy". If they can strike down Griswold, they can then dismantle several other decisions, including Lawrence v. Texas, which declared sodomy laws unconstitutional only last year. Dred Scott, to the religious right, is about legal precedent trumping morality. The reversal of that decision gives them hope that someday all this liberal hoo-ha will also be overturned and we can get back to the Good Old Days.

So, concerning Bush's response on Friday, do we point and laugh? Do we attempt to expose this coded message, therefore causing everyone else to point and laugh at us? It's a conundrum that would make even Alan Keyes polite and close-mouthed, which is precisely how he acted tonight from all reports. (I didn't get to listen to the debate itself--work before play--though I caught some televised clips on Faux News after the game.) It's a shame that they didn't televise this one, not just because of the scenery, but because Alan Keyes looks like a fish and a crazy person. If you close your eyes, he sounds surprisingly calm. Open them, and you see his crazy rolling fish eyes and a slick political leer. I can't wait for the next debate. The only question is, what should the drinking game be?

*Why am I plugging Eric Zorn? 'Cause I wrote him about this, and he replied within 20 minutes. I am tickled by this and intend to start reading his blog. Also, he cites One Good Thing regularly.

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