Making the Rounds of the Issues:

Posted: May 25, 2001 12:00 AM
Jim Jeffords? The nominal Republican and Vermont leftie will switch parties and thereby give Senate control to the Democrats? Supposedly, it was to be one of those jokes Strom Thurmond or Jesse Helms - going about their Senate duties propped up by aides, respirators at the ready. Death would finally do it. Yet joke Jeffords may prove the agent of the Bush administration's despair. XXX Bush is doing very well. We are (or were) about to get significant tax cuts. He's talking the talk on energy and the environment, though mumbling around the edges on education and the Middle East. If Jeffords pulls a switchie, Bush and the Republicans will accomplish little - possibly not even the anti-missile systems and reinvigorated military the nation has to have, perhaps to survive. Already they're beginning to blame the newly incumbent president for rolling blackouts in California and rising prices of gasoline. Just imagine the firestorms to come over merely moderate Bush appointees to the federal courts. (Indeed, look at the bitter opposition to Bush's solicitor-general nomination of Theodore Olson, a man endorsed by the hive's pet law prof, Larry Tribe.) XXX Maybe you missed (1) that Theresa LePore, the Palm Beach county election supervisor who designed the butterfly ballot there, has switched her party designation from Democrat to independent. She says the Dems are dissing her. Maybe you missed (2) that Jenna Bush (19) showed up before Judge Elisabeth Earle in Austin Community Court - on a misdemeanor charge of underage alcohol possession - in (according to The Washington Post) "a tight-fitting sleeveless black shirt, pink Capri pants and sandals that exposed a toe ring on her right foot." Whatever happened to environmentally friendly attire appropriate to the seriousness of the circumstance - even demure attire reflecting contrition and respect? XXX A new study is the first to suggest a genetic connection between alcoholism and depression. In the words of one of the researchers, a "collection of genes appear[s] to predispose some individuals to alcoholism and others to depression and some to both." A link between alcoholism and depression makes logical sense. As William Buckley has noted, the only truly happy drunk was in Mary Chase's "Harvey." XXX The report of Colorado Governor Bill Owens' blue-ribbon commission inquiring into 1999's shootings at Columbine High School is especially critical of the local sheriff. Oh yes, and of school officials - and, somewhere down the list, of parents. Yet if anybody is home, shouldn't it be the parents? How could the parents of co-conspirators Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold not know the boys were buying guns and - in their garages - building 90 bombs? Again: Perhaps the best way to stomp this scourge is to hold parents responsible for the weapons-related actions of their young. XXX Today, the Supreme Court will decide whether to rule next year on the constitutionality of affirmative action in higher education. In recent years the federal courts generally have narrowed the scope of affirmative action but the Supreme Court's view on the matter remains murky, notably in college admissions. Two cases involving the University of Michigan may offer the Court its defining moment: One lower court has disqualified affirmative action in undergraduate admissions while another has upheld affirmative action in law-school admissions. XXX Should the United States withhold key United Nations dues until the UN restores it to its seat on the UN's Human Rights Commission? Yes indeed. The House is right: As Speaker Dennis Hastert says, "There's an injustice there that ought to be addressed." In opposing any withholding of UN dues, President Bush is wrong. And in kicking the United States off the commission at the principal behest of China and Cuba, the UN is - once again - meanly idiotic. XXX To thwart drivers from holding their cell phones as they tool down the road, why don't automobile manufacturers include hands-free systems, adaptable to handheld cell phones, in their new models? XXX At Yale, loony students and (200) faculty felines turned out to caterwaul about an honorary degree for alumnus George W. Bush. In remarks on a campus that voted for him third - behind Al Gore and Ralph Nader - President Bush took the rhetorical light side: "To those of you who received honors, awards and distinctions, I say, 'Well done.' And to the C students I say, 'You, too, can be president of the United States.'" XXX At Class Day a day earlier, an unsurprisingly unprotested Hillary Clinton gave the principal address at Yale's commencement exercises. Also taking (one hopes) a light approach and addressing the (vast right-wing) Conspiracy of the Hair, she said: "The most important thing I have to say to you today is that hair matters. This is a life lesson my family did not teach me [and] Wellesley and Yale Law School failed to instill: Your hair will send significant messages to those around you. What hopes and dreams you have for the world - but more, what hopes and dreams you have for your hair. Pay attention to your hair, because everyone else will."