Today I'm going to take a slight detour from 'funny' to 'punny'. Well, not exactly punny, more like pundit-y. I'm going to post the 400-word column I wrote to compete in the Washington Post Pundit Contest. Bear with me-- more than one of my loyal readers sent me the link, suggesting I enter the contest, and guess what? I did not make the top ten. Oh well, my dad would have said, "C'est la vie, Baby!" But, hey-- I tried. So here it is, and I promise, next time it's back to funny!
I wonder whether President Obama has sent a thank-you note to Sandra Day O’Connor for his Nobel Peace Prize. After all, it’s widely agreed that a significant part of the reason the Nobel Committee conferred this honor on our neophyte president, is that he is not George W. Bush. So the Bush presidency set the stage for this lofty award.
Bearing in mind that Florida’s Electoral College votes determined the winner of the 2000 presidential election, and that there is broad consensus that the United States Supreme Court selected the president-elect by means of their Bush v. Gore decision. A 5-4 decision, with the deciding vote coming from –wait for it—Sandra Day O’Connor.
Yes, there were four other justices who voted to grant Bush’s emergency plea for a stay of the Florida Supreme Court ruling, halting the ongoing recount, but their votes were never in question. Justices Rehnquist, Kennedy, Scalia and Thomas were solidly established conservative votes, rarely varying from the far right option. Justice O’Connor was the swing vote on that court, and could have just as easily ruled with the other four justices (Stevens, Breyer, Souter and Ginsburg.) But she voted to stop the recount, and thus begat President George W. Bush, just as surely as if she had given birth to the man.
Now I don’t bring this up to besmirch the record of this fine woman. In fact, I’m quite a fan and supporter of her trailblazing record on the bench. The Big Bench. When President Reagan nominated her to that lofty post in 1981, I was the president of a local NOW chapter, and was therefore interviewed by a local radio station for my reaction to her nomination. Clearly, I was ecstatic that a woman would finally be a member of that august body, and tried to express that in my remarks. Later I rejoiced at her confirmation, and celebrated her distinguished service as an exemplary representative of her—our gender.
Over the years I have enjoyed her biography about growing up on a ranch and a memoir about her life on the bench, I admired her then, as I do now, for her intelligence, morality, dignity and sense of responsibility.
Does that mean I agreed with her on Bush v. Gore? Not on your life. But maybe she now gets some credit for the big prize going to our sitting president. That helps.