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What Would People Think?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Most Important Thing About John Roberts

Everybody should look to me to find out what the most important thing about Chief Justice nominee John Roberts. And that most important thing is, of course, what his favorite movies are. I refer you to this actual excerpt from the hearings:

CHARLES SCHUMER: This process is getting a little more absurd the further we move.

You agree we should be finding out your philosophy and method of legal reasoning, modesty, stability, but when we try to find out what modesty and stability mean and what your philosophy means, we don't get any answers.

It's as if I asked you what kind of movies you like – "Tell me two or three good movies" – and you say, "I like movies with good acting, I like movies with good directing, I like movies with good cinemaphotography"... and I ask you, "No, give me an example of a good movie," you don't name one. I say, "Give me an example of a bad movie," you won't name one.

Then I ask you if you like Casablanca, and you respond by saying, "Lots of people like Casablanca." You tell me, "It's widely settled that Casablanca's one of the great movies."

I am making a plea here. I hope we're going to continue this for a while, that within the confines of what you think is appropriate and proper you try to be a little more forthcoming with us in terms of trying to figure out what kind of justice you will become.

JOHN ROBERTS: First, Doctor Zhivago, North by Northwest…[People in the room

Now, Judge Roberts, do you expect to get away with such prevarication? The American people have a right to know WHY you liked those movies! I mean, I haven't seen Dr. Zhivago since middle school, but I remember thinking it was pretty lame back then. (Then again, I was 13.)

And - while it is true that North By Northwest is awesome even under originalist doctrine - you give no indication of whether you can suspend your disbelief enough to accept the lame scene where he pulls a knife out of the back of a recently murdered diplomat and everybody thinks he's the killer. Can't you even agree that this scene is lame? But doesn't the scene with the plane in the cornfields kick ass? Answer me, Judge Roberts! The future of the Constitution depends on it.

You, dear reader(s), think I'm joking don't you? Just because you're right doesn't mean my line of inquiry lacks jurisprudential value. Turns out Clarence Thomas's favorite movie is The Fountainhead, a movie based on a book by that prophet of selfishness, Ayn Rand. That would have been enough to convince me to vote against him right there!


  • I haven't read nor seen The Fountainhead, but I can say for sure that Atlas Shrugged is an excellent novel that should be made into a movie at some point.

    On the other hand, if we read Schumer's question closely, Roberts is asked to give an example of a good movie and an example of a bad movie. Is his response to these questions? If so, is Zhivago good and NxNW bad, or the other way around? Or did he, as you and most reporters assumed, mean that they were among the two or three good movies? See how, even with this answer, Roberts is not giving us the full story.

    (My mom loves Dr. Zhivago and wants me to see it at some point. Afterwards, I will be able to comment on Roberts' taste.)

    By Blogger Mike, at 9/25/2005 10:31 PM  

  • If it turns out to be good, allow me to reiterate that I was 13 when I saw it.

    I read Anthem by Ayn Rand. Didn't like it as a novel or as a philosophical tract. Perhaps Atlas Shrugged is an excellent novel. But I still hate objectivism.

    By Blogger Ben, at 9/25/2005 10:39 PM  

  • Atlas Shrugged would be one hell of a long movie. I gather there's one speech by the main character that would occupy a good hour of film time by itself.

    I hear some dumbass commmentator on MSNBC or Fox News called Roberts' selection of Doctor Zhivago "a little commie." This despite the fact that Pasternak's novel (and presumably the movie) were critiques of Russia's "Communist" regime.

    We can only hope that we'll soon have a justice who prefers Almost Famous.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 9/26/2005 5:51 PM  

  • The Fountainhead is his very favorite movie? That's crazy. Favorite book I could understand, but the movie was hilariously TERRIBLE!

    By Anonymous Jacob, at 9/26/2005 11:03 PM  

  • And here I thought that if Jacob weighed in, it would be a passionate (or dispassionate) defense of Ayn Rand.

    Jacob, you got something against Gary Cooper? As that band in the '80s said...he's Super Dooper!

    By Blogger Ben, at 9/26/2005 11:07 PM  

  • Jeff, I hold out no such hope for that amount of taste in a Court nominee.

    As for John Galt's speech in Atlas Shrugged, I always found it to be the worst part of the book. Redundant and preachy and overly long (though the scenario in which he delivered it lent it weight). The rest is a harrowing adventure that I think would make a great flick. While it's not quite at the Cat's Cradle level in the "books I want to see made into movies dammit!" category, it's still pretty high up there.

    I may have to see and chortle at The Fountainhead at some point.

    By Blogger Mike, at 9/27/2005 12:03 AM  

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