"Al Gore and George W. Bush will make different Supreme Court appointments."
This, we're told, is the big motivator, the most burning reason people should vote in this, perhaps the most stultifyingly boring presidential race of the century.
While this most reasoned of reasons to vote may motivate right-wing, single-issue, pro-life Republicans looking to ensure that an HIV-positive fetus conceived through incestual rape will have the precious gift of life, why exactly should it cause any Democrats to mosey down to their polling place this November?
To be honest, there is no current issue that would cause me even to consider voting for either candidate.
Al Gore is, was and always will be a transparent political tramp. Here is a man who employs Big Tobacco's chief marketing strategist, Carter Eskew, to shape his message and slimy party hack Tony Coelho to disseminate it.
As for W., he has ended idiocy as we know it. His is an altogether new idiocy. A militant, proud, smarmy, arrogant, grating, sunburnt, craggy-faced, twangy-voiced idiocy that yammers and babbles and juts out its jaw and aspires to the level of platitudes.
No matter how many people capable of thought he surrounds his tiny cranium with when reading speeches, as I scan the podium, I can still, like the old Monty Python sketch, "Spot The Looney."
But for those Democrats who will vote Gore based solely on the Supreme Court, might I mention that some of the finest Supreme Court appointments of the last 50 years were made by Republicans (William Brennan by Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Blackmun by Richard Nixon, John Paul Stevens by Gerald Ford and, in the only actual accomplishment of his presidency . . . David Souter by George Sr.).
Granted, these appointments later were considered mistakes by the presidents who made them.
And there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth amid cries of "we thought he was a strict constructionist." Strict constructionist is a term currently being spat out by W. for what constitutes his ideal nominee. The term strict constructionist refers to any jurist who prefers precedent to justice.
The other catchphrase is original intent, as if somewhere in the Federalist Papers you'll find a reference to purchasing RU-486 over the Internet.
The difference between a Democratic president nominating Supreme Court candidates and a Republican president doing the same thing is that unlike the Clinton/Gore "New Democrats," Republicans will at least try to select judges who embody their party's core values. Namely, young, vigorous idealogues (Clarence Thomas) or lunatics with hearts full of hate (Robert Bork).
My personal favorite was the Rehnquist/Scalia confirmation hearings, in which Republicans resorted to the old "good reactionary, bad reactionary" ploy. Democrats were so fearful that they might be confirming a crypto-Nazi as chief justice that they gladly approved - by a vote of 98 to 0! - Antonin Scalia, who defines judicial activism as anything that's occurred since Draco ruled Athens.
Meanwhile, courageous Bill Clinton, the only president in history to expend more bodily fluids than political capital, has a three-point checklist for potential nominees:
My apologies to Ruth Ginsberg and Steven Breyer, but if I'm going to move far enough to the right to vote Democratic based on the makeup of the Supreme Court, then I want 35-year-old appointees who are a combination of Lawrence Tribe and Gore Vidal, with the life expectancy of a giant tortoise.
Otherwise, there's just as good a chance that W. will screw up and appoint someone decent, as there is that Gore will nominate someone worth nominating.
And I still need a reason not to vote for Ralph Nader.
Jerry Long and his brother Joe are known as the political/social satirists The Sturdy Beggars.