Saturday, April 10, 2010

Noises off (and running)

My son advised me yesterday that he would not be reading the newspaper for the next several months. This self-prohibition, I suspect, will have to extend to all form of mass communication, if he is to have any chance of success in reaching his stated goal. With the announcement that Justice John Paul Stevens is retiring from the court at the end of this term, the geiger counter on political rhetoric is about to go off the charts.

We have already witnessed the routine with one Obama nominee for the high court. The proposed appointee will be attacked for words that are misread and misapplied, for decisions projected to mean something never intended, for doing this, for not doing that, and for being something other than whatever objectors contend that person is supposed to be. The defenders will defend the honor and integrity of the candidate, will praise the accomplishments large and small, will extol the virtues demonstrated by this and that, and will raise their collective voices in anger when dismissing accusations of the other, as maliciously suggested by those opposing without reason.

The object of all this attention will deflect and avoid. With great seriousness, and at times with even greater humor, he or she will handle all the flying adjectives and adverbs with grace and dignity. Sticks and stones will be the calling card. At the end of this charade, once the nouns and verbs have settled into their cubbyholes for the evening, and the votes are counted, we will hopefully have chosen a worthy successor to Justice Stevens. We can ill afford not to.

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