Column: Conventional wisdom

By Eric Naing

As a longtime subscriber to Newsweek, I’ve become fond of their “Conventional Wisdom” section, wherein they feature people in the news and use arrows to rate how well they did that week. Since they say that imitation is the highest form of flattery (and not because I couldn’t think of anything else to write about) I present you with my very own version of “Conventional Wisdom.”

John Roberts-Arrow thingy pointed up:

Conservatives love him and liberals tolerate him. What’s not to love about President Bush’s Supreme Court nominee John Roberts? He’s got years of judicial experience, is well liked in Washington, D.C. and could potentially be the first gay Supreme Court justice. Yes, the whitest sounding guy to potentially grace the Supreme Court bench since Smith Thompson back in 1823 may also be a flaming homosexual.

Let’s look at the evidence. Roberts went to an all-boys catholic school where he spent much of his time grappling with sweaty boys on the wrestling team. He also was in a high school production of You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, in which he played everyone’s favorite butch lesbian, Peppermint Patty.

At the press conference where President Bush announced his Supreme Court nominee, the Roberts family was there to show their support. Their clothes, possibly picked out by John Roberts himself, were brightly colored pink and blue outfits. Of particular note was Roberts’s youngest son who pranced around during the whole conference (it seems the apple really doesn’t fall very far from the tree).

Before anyone stars prepping their hate mail and letter bombs, please know that it is very difficult to convey sarcasm though a column. John Roberts is most likely a flaming heterosexual despite his seemingly gay traits, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Arnold Schwarzenegger-Arrow thingy pointed down:

The once shining star of the Republican party has lost much of his luster. Since he assumed the governorship of “Cah-lee-fouh-nee-uh” after Gray Davis’s “Total Recall,” Schwarzenegger has been mired in scandal. Schwarzenegger has neglected many of the biggest problems facing his state, such as the water and energy crises and has not yet balanced the budget as he promised. He also has proposed massively unpopular initiatives that hurt nurses and teachers. Because of this, Arnold is now feeling the “Red Heat” as his approval ratings have plummeted marking the “End of Days” for his popularity.

Considering his approval ratings and failed initiatives, Schwarzenegger looks like he could be easily “Terminat(ed)” when he runs for re-election next year. Arnold’s incompetence has done much to discredit the idea of actors becoming successful politicians. He very well could be the “Last Action Hero” elected to public office. Come 2006, Arnold most likely will not “be back” and hopefully neither will these lame Schwarzenegger puns.

Harry Potter-Arrow thingy pointed up:

Pottermania has once again swept the nation with the release of the sixth book in J.K. Rowlings’s Harry Potter series. Children and adults with the reading level of children everywhere wasted no time in snatching up the latest book, but are these eager readers getting more than they expected? Harry Potter’s world has changed dramatically since the first innocent book. Terrorists (I mean “Death Eaters”) have created a culture of paranoia causing people to fear everything, and the government (I mean wizards) have started to curtail the people’s rights.

One part in particular deals with the wizards knowingly jailing innocent people and taking away their rights. It doesn’t take a political scientist to draw parallels from that to the situation in Guantanamo Bay or more broadly to the Patriot Act. In both scenarios, the wizards and our governments enact policies they know to be wrong only because they want to be seen as doing something to fight the Death Eaters and terrorists respectively.

Maybe I am reading way too much into a children’s book. The latest Harry Potter book should probably be viewed not as a political allegory, but as a memorable adventure that everyone can enjoy. Who could forget that part on page 606 where Professor Rumsfeld kills Headmaster Cheney?

Eric Naing is senior LAS. His column appears on Monday. He can be reached at [email protected]