'Tis the season to get into arguments at the office Christmas party or the Chanukah dinner table. And these conversations rarely go well. But it's likely to happen, so brace yourself. Here are some notes likely to be hit, all off-key, this holiday season:
BUSH LIED, PEOPLE DIED: There are so many facts worth noting on this front, including that in its joint resolution authorizing the war in Iraq in 2002, Congress acknowledged that "the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people."
That remains a fact -- both that Saddam Hussein had, in fact, used weapons of mass destruction against his own people and that the majority of Congress agreed that that was a fact and that in his willingness to have and use WMDs, the Iraqi tyrant was indeed a threat to us.
BUSH HATES BLACK PEOPLE: I got hooked on the PG version of "Golddigger," as much as the next radio listener, but Kanye West is digging deep and with very little to go on when he rants that a racist White House let blacks suffer as Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast.
There is a lot of finger-pointing to go around, but the tragic story of Katrina has more to do with local corruption, bad infrastructure and bureaucratic bungling than racism. Levee design flaws, too, for instance, dating back to 1993 were also not George Bush's fault. And yet, we will continue to hear that Katrina was a racist "genocide" perpetrated by the Bush administration (as we did in recent congressional testimony).
THE ECONOMY IS IN THE TANK: Growth and jobs and the stock market are up. Unemployment is down and hovering near historical lows. While the Fed has raised short-term interest rates several times to stave-off inflation, long rates remain low. And the so-called housing bubble has yet to pop, and likely won't as long as home ownership remains a tax-advantaged event. Even the "New York Times" -- no parrot of White House talking points -- has had to admit that the economy is "booming."
SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR'S SEAT WAS A "WOMAN'S SEAT": Quotas generally infuriate me as they should all fair-minded people. It's insulting to say "you're not good enough, so we'll judge you on a separate scale." And, yet, many wanted the president to do just that. Not only are the current Supreme Court Justice John Roberts and current nominee Samuel Alito men, but they are both believed to be pro-life.
Of course, neither of those facts guarantee that they would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the case that made abortion legal in the United States, because they are, as Roberts's Senate confirmation hearings demonstrated and Alito's in January are likely to, at heart, fair-minded jurists who will deal with the facts before them. They, if they stay true to form, will not legislate from the bench, which is what the president was looking for in a Supreme Court judge, and what every American who remembers his three branches of government from Social Studies class should expect.
TERRI SCHIAVO WAS ON ARTIFICIAL LIFE SUPPORT: The Florida woman whose hospice bed was the focus of the nation's attention early this year was starved to death when she was taken off nutrition at the request of her estranged husband. Say what you will about the case, but know that there were no extraordinary measures used to keep her alive. Terri Schiavo died because she was starved to death -- no pro or con argument changes that one fact.
PRESIDENT BUSH TOOK AUGUST OFF: He's the president of the United States. We're at war. He meets with foreign dignitaries, communicates and has on-site Cabinet members at the ranch. And the media's there to yell at him like always. He's working. Every day in Crawford is a day at the office. I may get Christmas off, but the prez is working.
The list could go on, as it might at your celebrations. But you're on guard now. Maybe you'll be lucky. Look at Kanye across the table and remind him of all those unused buses in New Orleans -- the ones that could have evacuated people, but were instead left to sit in a flooded lot. Then maybe you can both retire to the living room for Scrabble or Xeroxing at the office.