Thursday, October 06, 2005

October 5, 2005

Justice Mother Superior

From the moment I laid eyes on her, there was something about Harriet Miers that gave me the creeps. I had seen that look before. What was it?

Then I learned that Miss Miers had been born Catholic and remained so until deciding when she turned 30 that Catholics weren't crazy enough for her, and switching to a Dallas evangelical sect. Then it became clear. I had been schooled by women who wore that very same look and demeanor

She had left the Catholic Church, but that look remained – the look of every Catholic nun that had taught me in grammar school.

Why would that worry me? Well, aside from my jaundiced view of all things religious, those nuns were, every nun of them, was 150 pounds of "issues" in a habit. They each wore a wedding ring. Why? Because they were "married to Christ." (Hellooo... married to a guy dead 2000 years? Nothing strange there.)

In those days nuns were draped head to toe in black habits, (known as "berkas" today.) Their faces were framed by stiffly starched white linen beneath which was large white linen bib. Behind their backs we called them "penguins," a smear on real penguins which are a whole lot nicer.

Those nuns had issues pile atop issues. Even Dr. Phil would have thrown them out of his office after five minutes. Socially and sexually repressed in ways only the Yesterday President Bush lied (again) when asked by a reporter if he had ever discussed abortion with Miss. Miers. "Ah, (looking down, shuffling paper,) ah, not that I recall."
Oh come on George! Poooleezze! Who do you think you're kidding? Of course he did.

Friends close to Miss Miers, including a Texas judge, have already publicly testified that they've attended anti-abortion meetings with her and that she has donated both time and money to anti-choice groups. So of course she opposes abortion, and of course she and George discussed that, and of course she would end the legal right to abortion in New York minute if given the chance. And George knows it.

But then, we're used George lying to us. Democracy is not a sacred institution to George, but a game, an act, a Kabuki dance that has to be performed as a part of his job. He's Shucker-and-Jiver in-Chief, who ministers over a government where the ends always justify the means. The trick is making sure voters never get a gander at the means until the ends are achieved.

One more thing on Miss Miers. Despite her crazy-right credentials conservatives are kicking a fuss about her appointment. What's that all about?

Two things. First the crazy-right is really crazy. So it's not surprising to see that pack of knuckle-draggers throwing crap from their cages. They are afraid that Miss Miers is not crazy enough. (I suspect they are wrong about that.)

The other reason is more important -- and tactical It's a head fake. The GOP leadership is letting their crazies howl about Miss Miers because they hope it will lull Democrats into believing that Miss Miers is benign – at least as Bush conservatives go. And it's working. They already landed one sucker, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. So, expect more to come especially in the lead up to Senate hearings.

If Miss Miers is confirmed the thoughtful Sandra Day O'Conner's seat will go to a Mother Superior. A childless spinster who, years ago, pledged all her love, respect and devotion to one man, George W. Bush -- a man she can never have, a man who, when his term is over, will return to Texas, leaving her to pine alone in Washington for the rest of her life, in her black robe with companion Clarence Thomas.

Buckle up for some strange rulings. Very strange.

Puritans would have found normal, they took their frustrations out on we kiddies. They would yank us from desks by our earlobes (ouch !) when we misbehaved (classified as any behavior that hinted at normality) and dragged the offending youngster to the front of the class. If a boy they would make him roll up his stiff corduroy uniform pant leg to the knee. Then, with the other kiddies watching, the giant penguin would smack, and smack and smack the offending calf with a yardstick until it turned Satan red. Nothing strange there. (Half a century later, I still can't look at a yardstick without flinching.)

My third grade nun had a moister way of dealing with sin in the classroom. She would walk up and down the lines of desks packing a giant cask of Holy Water, spreading it over the students as if she was spraying herbicide on weeds. Nothing strange there.

I only mention all this for a couple reasons. First, I needed to get that off my chest. Those nutty nuns would be turned into Child Protective Services today. I guess they figured that if the priests could have sex with little boys in the aptly named "rectory," then at least they should be able to vent their repressed sexual frustrations by slapping the kids around. (And the Pope wonders why there as so many ex-Catholics.)

But I digress. The main reason I worry about Miss Miers is because she is one of them – in heart, in soul and in psyche. I can see it in her eyes. I know that look. And she's got it -- in spades

There are whole lot of reasons why that matters. Let me list just a few.

A life-long bachelorette Miss Miers has never had children. People can decide not have children and that's fine. Some folks want kids but can't have them. That's sad, but they can always adopt. Miss Miers has done neither.

The Supreme Court is often faced with cases that involve minors and the rights of minors. During this very term the Court will hear a case about whether a minor has the right to an abortion without parental consent. But Miss Miers has never been a parent. What pool of data will she sort through to make a decision like that? (And yes, I know Justice Souter is also unmarried and without kids. But one Justice without such key life experiences is quite enough. Hey, maybe sparks will fly between Miss Miers and Mr. Sueter. Justices Mr. & Mrs. Souter.. has a ring to it.)

Anyway you parents out there know what I mean when I say that the issues that emerge between parent and child are among the most daunting, complex and contradictory of all human emotions. But Miss Miers has experienced none of them. She has no idea what is like to have a daughter and worry about her getting pregnant, either the usual way or by being raped. None. zip. She might be able to intellectualize about it in the abstract, even sympathize, but she can't empathize.

Then there's the religious issues. If someone on the Supreme Court is going to indulge in the metaphysical, I prefer it be the white bread variety – you know, Lutherans, reformed Judaism, that kind of thing. But Miss Miers decided to jump from from mainstream Catholic to a hand-waving evangelical.