Well, that's a relief!
Barack Obama won't be appointing a bomb thrower to the Supreme Court. Just in case this was something you were worrying about: the President of the United States filling a vacancy on the United States Supreme Court with someone who throws bombs.
We have Chuck Grassley and Jeff Sessions, two actual United States senators, to thank for the reassurance -- and not a moment too soon! In every corner of this great land of ours, after all, men and women from across the political spectrum have been digesting the news that David Souter will be stepping down from the court to return to his beloved New Hampshire, and they've been wondering -- fretting -- about the sort of man or woman this new president might choose to replace him.
"What if he picks a bomb thrower?" they've been thinking to themselves.
And now the worrying can stop.
"It's not going to be someone that's a bomb thrower," said Grassley after a Wednesday lunch with Obama.And from Sessions, who spoke with the president by phone, the same Obama promise: no bomb throwers.Which doesn't mean that Grassley and Sessions, now the two highest-ranking Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, won't find some other reason to object to the nominee, whoever he or she happens to be. But at least they've satisfied themselves that when it comes to this particular Supreme Court litmus test -- Will the Justice toss explosives? -- they've got no cause for alarm.
Somewhere in an Oval Office, a president is smiling.
They set the bar low enough, it's that much easier to get over.
That's the trouble with claptrap. You talk claptrap long enough -- you surround yourself with other people talking claptrap -- and sooner or later, you actually start believing the stuff. Some part of you remembers that you were only saying it to frighten people -- other people -- and to try to gain some kind of political edge. But a steady diet of claptrap has a way of blocking out that memory, and then you're as susceptible as anyone.
You're talking claptrap. Everybody you know is talking claptrap.
There must be something to it, right? Right.
The particular claptrap this time around being the notion that Barack Obama is some kind of dangerous radical, hell-bent on destroying the country and everything that's decent about it. That he and his radical buddies from the '60s -- when Barack was just a toddler, but a precocious toddler -- hatched some kind of insidious plot to tear down the very pillars of American society, and install some communist-fascist-European-style-socialist dictatorship where gay terrorists run wild and you can't even pick your own doctor!
That's Rush Limbaugh's Obama, and Michael Steele's Obama. That's Joe the Plumber's Obama. That's the semi-official GOP caricature of Obama. It just happens not to be the real Obama. (Don't believe me? Go ask some of the frustrated folks on the left just how radical they think Obama is.)
All of which means that, when Republicans actually come face-to-face, or even voice-to-voice, with the actual Obama, they can't help but be reassured -- or is it disappointed? -- that he's not the bogeyman they've made him out to be.
"It's a trick!" the Limbaughs scream. "It's a disguise!" But if there's any hocus-pocus going on, it's Republicans tricking themselves into believing the worst about the guy.
They're worried about Supreme Court bomb throwers? Obama is calmer: There won't be any Supreme Court bomb throwers.
Which still leaves him plenty of running room.
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Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at email@example.com.