Thursday, May 1, 2008

Scalia's offensive charm

With a book to promote, Antonin Scalia is currently undertaking what one news source improbably called his "charm offensive"--although the Chicago Trib's James Oliphant was probably a lot nearer the mark when he added, "Picture Greta Garbo joining Facebook and you get the idea."

Scalia--the man both George Bush and the GOP candidate who would bring Bush's third term to this earth have pointed to as the model for the kind of justice they would appoint--does not do "cuddly" well, despite the fawning tee-up he got by 60 Minutes' Leslie Stahl:

Now there's a man who can wring the full oxymoronic value out of the phrase "charm offensive"--heavy on the "offensive," light on the "charm."

Still, there's a nice symmetry to his position: As President, Bush would appoint more Supreme Court justices like Scalia. And as Supreme Court Justice, Scalia would appoint more Presidents like Bush. It's really quite elegant. Elegance is beauty, and beauty is truth. Get over it.

That mutual admiration society only goes so far, of course. Whatever ambitions Scalia had to become Chief Justice never made it past the starting gate in the Bush administration. Bush has no problems working with people who are smarter than he is; in fact, he enjoys watching A students having to kneel and kiss the ring of His C Studentness. But he sees no point in working with people who make no secret that they are smarter than him, and Scalia makes no secret he thinks he's smarter than everyone. Being the most arrogant prick in the Bush administration is like the Highlander: In the end, there can only be one.

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