LOS ANGELES – "Are these guys nuts" my son asked me, as the men we were watching paused to think about it before three raised their hands to signal that, no, they didn't believe in the brilliant scientific theory that changed the way we think of everything.
They don't believe in evolution.
Iowa, yes. Evolution, no.
There were three of them, hands in the air, rejecting everything they'd learned in eighth grade science, and every year afterward, in their desperate pursuit of voters similarly inclined. They are not fringe loons: Sam Brownback is a senator, Mike Huckabee is a respected former governor. Tom Tancredo, enough said.
There was even a fourth, clarifying his stance. Science isn't right about everything. Surely not. Not always right about who is ahead in Iowa.
I should be pleased. My son does not always agree with me about politics. He is a passionate moderate; having run a number of small businesses, he is very much against high taxes and paperwork, and he is suspicious of government regulation, including regulation of a woman's right to choose. He likes Arnold. He liked Bill Clinton. If he ever liked George W. Bush (he did when he got that first tax refund), he has stopped.
My son would be happy to find a candidate he liked among the crowd at the Reagan library, but what he sees instead is sending him straight into my arms, figuratively speaking.
People used to joke that Democrats who competed in Iowa would go so far to the left that they could never get back, or as President Reagan more memorably put it, so far left that they left America. Republicans now face that danger on the right, in a crowded field, in their desperation to appeal to the religious right, even at the cost of making themselves look like fools, or worse. They have gone so far right than they look all wrong.
Because, of course, it wasn't only the Darwin-haters showing their stuff to a new generation of appalled would-be Republicans. There were also the born-again right-to-lifers, who used to think abortion was fine but have now changed their minds in time to appeal to like-minded principled voters. Do they think we're stupid, my son wanted to know, after Romney, widely perceived to be the debate's winner, explained how you turn your brain into a pretzel and remain firmly in that position while smiling for the camera. And did anyone say global warming? What a speculative notion! Says who?
Of course, none of this even begins to deal with the real elephant in the room, the war with which even those, like my son, who welcomed their first tax cut from President Bush and were inclined to give him latitude, have lost patience.
You want to defend the war, attack evolution and take away women's right to choose. Aren't sure about global warming either?
Did you have any particular reason anyone under 90 should vote for you?
My son is 14 years old. He understands evolution better than I do. He could grow up to be a Republican. But not if you tell him to ignore what he is learning and turn his back on the ways in which the world is changing. Not with a bunch of old guys who probably still believe the earth is the center of everything, as he puts it, doing all the talking. If this is the Republican Party being offered to the young and the educated and the forward-thinking, Democrats are in better shape than we deserve.
Punish Paris Hilton
Having relied, as anyone in her position would, on her publicist for legal advice, Paris has now fired the offending flack and resorted to legal appeals and pleas in an effort to stave off her 45 days in the non-glamour slammer.
She might do better with her publicist calling the shots.
Her last-minute appeal claiming she was treated unfairly is a loser on its face. Here is a woman who was stopped not once, not twice, but three times driving on a suspended license, and each time thanks to the brilliant counsel of her publicist, managed to convince herself that she had done nothing wrong. What do they say, first time, shame on me; second time, shame on you; third time, go to jail….
Nor is she an obvious candidate for a pardon, a category that generally requires some form of reform, some contribution to the community, some saving grace. Here, the saving grace may be the pleasant void created by her temporary disappearance from the media, along with whatever message may be sent to others about leaving law to lawyers and press to publicists.
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Susan Estrich is the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California. She was Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the first woman President of the Harvard Law Review. She is a columnist for Creators Syndicate and has written for USA Today and the Los Angeles Times.
Estrich's books include the just published “Soulless,” “The Case for Hillary Clinton,” “How to Get Into Law School,” “Sex & Power,” “Real Rape,” “Getting Away with Murder: How Politics Is Destroying the Criminal Justice System” and "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women.”
She served as campaign manager for Michael Dukakis' presidential bid, becoming the first woman to head a U.S. presidential campaign. Estrich appears regularly on the FOX News Channel, in addition to writing the “Blue Streak” column for FOXNews.com.
Susan Estrich is currently the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California and a member of the Board of Contributors of USA Today. She writes the "Portia" column for American Lawyer Media and is a contributing editor of The Los Angeles Times. She was appointed by the president to serve on the National Holocaust Council and by the mayor of the City of Los Angeles to serve on that city's Ethics Commission.
A woman of firsts, she was the first woman president of the Harvard Law Review and the first woman to head a national presidential campaign (Dukakis). Estrich is committed to paving the way for women to assume positions of leadership.
Books by Estrich include "Real Rape," "Getting Away with Murder: How Politics is Destroying the Criminal Justice System" and "Dealing with Dangerous Offenders." Her book "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women," is a departure from her other works, encouraging women to take care of themselves by engaging the mind to fight for a healthy body. Her latest book, The Los Angeles Times bestseller, "Sex & Power," takes an impassioned look at the division of power between men and women in the American workforce, proving that the idea of gender equality is still just an idea.