LOS ANGELES – It’s one of those days.
You give people a microphone, or you vote them into office, and you’d think that they’d think before they open up their mouths. You’d think that some modicum of intelligence and common sense would be required for them to get where they are. And yet there they are, saying things, doing things, that leave you open-mouthed, wondering whether they think we’re that dumb, or they really are.
You know who I mean. Whoopi Goldberg. Larry Craig. Even the Fred Thompson campaign. Spare me.
Whoopi, a woman who is clearly at her best delivering lines written by other people, used her first day on “The View” to insult every dog-loving American from the South. You know, that region of the country where it’s part of the culture to torture dogs, and drown them and hang them if they don’t run fast enough to please you. You’ve been there, haven’t you?
According to Whoopi’s defense of the disgusting criminal named Michael Vick, abusing dogs “is part of his cultural upbringing." Cultural upbringing? Is this how Whoopi raises her family?
"For a lot of people, dogs are sport. Instead of just saying he is a beast and he's a monster, this is a kid who comes from a culture where this is not questioned."
What is wrong with this woman? Torturing dogs, putting them on a “rape stand” to force them to breed, hitting them with sharp sticks to make them run faster, and then executing the ones who don’t, doesn’t fit any definition of “sport” I’ve ever heard of, at least outside of concentration camps.
Michael Vick is a 27 year-old multimillionaire, not a “kid” who deserves anyone’s sympathy or understanding. I don’t know what “culture” it is where this kind of behavior is “not questioned,” but wherever it is, federal authorities should be investigating it.
Why would any semi-sentinent person want to listen to this woman’s “views?” Why does she get a megaphone to spread vile?
Then there’s the Toilet Man, Sen. Larry Craig, who seems to actually think that pleading guilty to a crime is just a formality that you can take back if it becomes public, and that saying you “intend” to resign doesn’t mean you really will. Liar, liar, pants on fire.
Funny, I don’t remember Sen. Craig in the past ever giving a damn about the real failings of the criminal justice system. But now that his ox is being gored, he’s got religion. Suddenly the system is unfair. Not to him. Guilty pleas are final, Senator. You can’t take them back because you fail in your efforts to hush them up. Hiring Michael Vick’s lawyer is not going to help you any more than it did him.
Don’t let Craig’s people tell you that he didn’t have a lawyer at the time, and therefore should be spared any punishment because of lack of counsel. Not only was he informed of his right to counsel, but he repeatedly insisted on getting the name of the city attorneys who were handling his case so his lawyer/law firm could contact them. Lying again.
And don’t let his defenders convince you that it’s somehow the police who are to blame because they had no business staking out bathrooms to entrap wayward perverts. Come again? Even my friend Arianna Huffington has jumped on this bandwagon, claiming that it’s law enforcement that is perverted in its priorities and not Sen. Craig. As the mother of a son, I beg to disagree. This was not some adults-only gay club that was infiltrated by a nosy policeman on his own initiative.
This was one of the main restrooms in the main terminal of the Minneapolis airport, a place that young boys like my own son end up in alone when they’re traveling with their mothers or grandmothers, or even on their own. This was a place where the police had received numerous complaints of “lewd activity,” which means men coming on to other men and having sex with them while our sons are in there going to the bathroom and washing their hands.
If it takes police going undercover to catch these guys, so be it. Believe me, guys like Sen. Craig will think twice before they act out again in the airport restrooms in Minneapolis. And mothers like me can be a little less tense as we stand outside the doors eyeing our watches and every man who goes in.
But my favorite of all is the Fred Thompson campaign, which has already been through three communications directors, and clearly is on its way to a fourth, before it’s even begun. In explaining the former senator’s decision to skip the FNC New Hampshire debate and appear on Jay Leno’s show instead, Thompson’s spokesman opined that “regular people” don’t watch debates; his point seemed to be that it made no sense for the senator to waste his time with us weirdos who do, when he could be communicating with “regular people” by trading jokes with Leno.
In fact, millions of people do watch debates, hoping to decide which candidate they like best. They may not be “regular people,” but I’ll tell you who they are: voters. Primary and caucus voters. The people most interested in politics are the ones most likely to watch debates. The people most interested in politics are the ones most likely to vote in primaries and caucuses, and determine who the nominee is.
And yes, many of us also have a professional interest. Virtually everyone who covers politics, who writes about it, talks about it, shapes what other people know about it and think about it, watches these little exchanges between the people who want to be president.
They may get boring for stretches, but there are occasional moments that can be funny, telling, revealing, and even determinative. Those are the moments that get replayed for the larger group of people who may not watch debates, but do watch the news. They are also likely voters.
Many Republicans had high hopes for Fred Thompson’s candidacy. But he waited months to announce after the initial flurry of excitement, leaving him ill-prepared to defend the attacks on his record as a senator or a lobbyist that any well-organized campaign should have anticipated. His non-campaign campaign became a revolving door for top aides, few of whom tend to go gently into the night.
Sean Hannity asked me recently why Democrats were being so nasty to Thompson’s wife, but the truth is, we’re not the ones who’ve been trashing Jeri Thompson for micromanaging her husband’s effort. How would we know that kind of stuff? It’s the Republican guys she’s tanked who are talking out of school.
Anyway, if she’s in charge, she better have a talk with the guy who decided it made sense to open up the campaign by insulting all the “irregular” people who will decide its outcome.
Meanwhile, I can only guess what tomorrow will bring. It’s looking to be quite a fall.
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.