Astounded by the headlines this morning.
Probably because I so rarely read the headlines or maybe because I'm totally ignorant of political protocol, but I was under the impression that we yet lived in a country founded upon such basic principles as freedom of expression.
I have no idea who Justice Samuel Alito is, or what the supreme court ruling about campaign funds entailed. I couldn't begin to argue the man's politics or personality with you.
What does seem clear is that the man disagreed with something Obama said in his State of the Union address last night. And Justice Alito frowned. He may have even muttered something. Pundits are in disagreement what that might have been or to what part, exactly, of Obama's remarks the man's muttering referred to. Because the man hasn't actually publicly said anything. Indeed, he refuses to comment on the President's speech at all.
But no matter. Everyone is distraught over his behavior. "There were days when judges stayed out of politics," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, "It would be nice to go back to those days."
Pray tell me, at what point did Alito intrude into "politics" where he so clearly doesn't belong? Was it in having an opinion or in having so human a face that it betrayed some of his private feelings? Was it in attending the State of the Union at all? Should ski-masks for official figures be standard issue at the door next year?
Apparently the president can disagree with–even scold–the court publicly, but the members of the court cannot disagree back. They may clap enthusiastically–but not frown.
Since when does agreeing with the President constitute proper etiquette, and disagreeing with him get you lambasted for stepping out of the bounds of your proper public office?
Is Obama so thin-skinned and fragile or the very office of the President of the United States so precariously situated that one man's facial expression constitutes a remarkable threat?
Has the media really come to such a ridiculous state as to pick this up?
No wonder I don't read the news.
PS: Since posting, I have been called on my political ignorance. I did not know that Justices are not to join in the general clapping, etc. Intriguing. Nor did I know it wasn't okay for Obama to address the court in the manner he did. I'm intrigued and disturbed by comments made on both sides of the issue on many websites. Should a justice stand up (or frown) for truth, even if it breaks rules of decorum? Should the leader of the free world worry about decorum, or should he use the stage to spotlight truth, regardless?
I'm not interested in arguing about whether Alito or Obama had actual truth on his side. What I want to know, is what if the courts had ruled something atrocious–say promoted genocide or something–would the President be wrong to break the rules of decorum to point it out on such a public occasion? Or, if the President really did tell an all-out lie, would it be wrong for a senator or a Justice or you or me to throw politeness to the wind and challenge him publicly, or maybe even just mutter in disgust in full view of the cameras?
Or would it be more wrong–in either situation–to obey the laws of decorum and tradition during the public meeting and overlook the wrongdoing?