Saturday, October 15, 2005

Litmus Test? How about the Writing Test?

In the Washington Post today, we read that Harriet Miers "may be at risk of flunking the writing portion of the Supreme Court confirmation test" and has passed the feared tipping point of no return:
"The tipping point in Washington is when you go from being a subject of caricature to the subject of laughter," said Bruce Fein, a Miers critic who served in the Reagan administration's Justice Department and who often speaks on constitutional law. "She's in danger of becoming the subject of laughter."
Actually, she has already found herself in the comedic crosshairs:
Fair or not, late-night comics have picked up the Miers thread. NBC's Jay Leno suggested the court may need "a woman who's had more courtroom experience, like Courtney Love."
These kinds of jokes reflect a narrative that is catching hold in the public imagination, that of President Sluggo's promotion of clueless cronies to positions of national importance. If clear prose is the sign of clear thinking, then Miers' reasoning must be muddled indeed. Try parsing this sample from her tenure as president of the Texas Bar Association:
"More and more, the intractable problems in our society have one answer: broad-based intolerance of unacceptable conditions and a commitment by many to fix problems."
Followers of the Strunk & White dictum, "Omit needless words," will want to strike the entire sentence and urge her to start over. So much for sending up a nominee with no paper trail.

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