To: Ms. Janet Reno
From: An Old Bosom Buddy
Re: Attorneys General Titular Heads Only
Dear Ms. Reno:
Hiya, Toots! Remember me and my guy, the “Majesty of Law”? We shared some laughs together in the Great Hall. Why sure, you know me! I’m the silver deco dame in the toga, the statue they built in the 1930s. They call me the “Spirit of Justice”.
And spirit of justice is exactly what’s missing, these days. Sorry you weren’t around for the whole bare booby hoo-ha. It was a doozie! Sorry. Like the Hollywood starlet who requested too much silicone, I’m getting ahead of myself.
When Alberto Gonzales (I call him Al Baby) whipped off the blue drapes that were covering me and hanging like a cloud over John Ashcroft’s reign, it seemed that Al Baby was cool. Reasonable. The Great Hispanic Hope as an answer to that fundamentalist nut-job Ashcroft.
Back during John-the-Baptist-Ashcroft’s term in office, he was horrified to discover that he was sharing on-camera time with me and my naked silver breast. What do you want? I was made out of aluminum in the 1930s, during a time when it was very hip to show the naughtier body parts. I must say lesser men would have loved my silver-tinted bazoom looming directly overhead.
As it was, me and my “breast of fresh air” beautifully matched the color of John-the-Baptist’s graying hair. But he just couldn’t see the merits of starring with another boob, no matter how shapely. Therefore in 2002, $8,650 of taxpayer money was spent on the installation of two blue drapes, one to cover me, and the other for my beau. And here I thought men were allowed to go without a shirt! Maybe Ashcroft thought he was in a restaurant. You know, “No shirt, no shoes, no service?”
Although we’d been gracing the Great Hall since its inception, this was the first time that an attorney general felt it necessary to have drapes permanently installed to enshroud us. [OK, I’ll admit it, there were a few times people such as AG Richard Thornburgh under Ronnie Reagan (what a looker he was!) threw up a temporary cover, but it was no biggie.] More than just a case of mild sexual hysteria, that Department of Justice “cover up” was not only pathetic: it was prophetic.
Our 68th Attorney General the one who lost a senate race to a dead man was the proud sponsor of the Patriot Act. His legacy also consisted of feverish work to upend Oregon’s Death with Dignity law; wholesale attempts to obliterate the 4th Amendment (unreasonable search and seizure); and the detaining of innocent immigrants and US citizens on an indefinite basis. But poor Pentecostal soul, he was not in his right mind.
Nor, it seems, in his left one. After all, this was the fellow who declared calico cats to be signs of the devil. Each time Johnny A. was appointed to a political office, he insisted on being anointed with Wesson Oil. If the church was fresh out (believe it or not, that happens sometimes), some staffer usually had some Crisco on hand.
At least I was luckier than most. Because of that wackjob drape, I didn’t have to watch that lubricated ceremony.
What was worse, during early morning prayer meetings, I heard he made his staff join in a sing-along to his hand-penned “Let the Eagles Soar”. Some swear he even made them do it before they had a chance to slug down some coffee. Say what you will about torture at Guantanamo Bay, but this was abuse beyond comprehension.
As you know, Johnny finally got his gun and hit the trail. When Al Baby took over earlier this year, a relatively huge weight was lifted off of many Americans’ collective breast. Taking office, he was reminded of the actual definition of the duties of that office: “The Attorney General of the United States is a member of the Cabinet and as head of the Department of Justice, is the top law enforcement officer and lawyer for the government. The Department of Justice is designed to enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.” Al didn’t look ruffled in the least. With his dapper suits and thick, wavy hair, he was movie star cool. A Latino Ronnie Reagan.
Though there were some rumblings about unbridled torture, we knew no one could be worse than John-the-Baptist. No one. Even better, a few months into office, Al Baby made a classy move and without fanfare, the drapes that had been covering my beau and me for over three years were taken down. I rejoiced. My silver skin shone in the light. It was a new dawn, indeed.
Just between you and me, you know, one girl to another: No matter what they say about us, isn’t it just like a man to redecorate each time he moves? Oh, those crazy consiglieres are all alike one whiff of power and it’s off to “Office Despot” they go, loading up on spanking new essentials; a new executive chair, note pads, erasable dictation tapes, blindfolds, rope, film wait. Who said anything about film? They don’t do film. Ever.
But like the other side of a two-edged sword, in no time the soft-spoken Al Baby made Ashcroft look like a purring pussycat (uh, but no calicos, thank you). Early rumors morphed into fact and Al Baby turned from nice kitty into a man-eating lion faster than one could spell G-U-A-N-T-A-N-A-M-O. There is now viable proof that Al believes cruel treatment of prisoners is acceptable if conducted overseas and by the CIA. He used the word “quaint” to refer to the rules of the Geneva Convention, and it is now fact that he had a large role in crafting the Patriot Act. Concern about the latest Attorney General who’s an expert at deflecting direct questions continues to grow.
To quote writer Mike Whitney, writing an analysis of John Ashcroft on Counterpunch.com: “His bleak demagoguery mixed with his bizarre habits, of early morning prayer meetings and religious ‘sing-a-longs’, put Ashcroft in a category well outside the mainstream. He became a political liability for the image conscious administration and, ultimately, had to be dumped. Fanaticism is revered at the Bush White House, but only if it is concealed behind a businesslike demeanor.” Enter the well-dressed, well-mannered, deadly quiet Gonzales. Be afraid . . . be much more afraid.
Ashcroft covered the two of us statues, but kept his mouth wide open. Too wide. And too open. He exposed his nuttiness as much as I exposed my breast. Perhaps even more. On the other teat, Al Baby has no problem revealing statues - but reveals little else.
I can only hope that that lulu of a Prez has finished nominating and/or appointing candidates to any sort of judicial role. Now that George is in his second term, with so many problems surfacing, he wouldn’t be so obtuse as to oh, say, nominate a person to the highest court of the land without having ever been a judge? He’d be laughed at louder than all the giggles I heard about Ashcroft!
With all this past and current brou-ha-ha, I think of you, Janet Reno, and my exposed breast swells with pride. You, Ms. Reno, the only woman ever elected to the office of Attorney General, served for eight long years. Only one man served longer than you and for that, we have to go back to 1817, to William Wirt, who was Attorney General under James Monroe and John Quincy Adams for 12 years.
You never bothered to worry about drapes. Your focus was on the job in front of you, not at two semi-clothed statues. Despite what the anti-Clinton detractors claim, you spent the time fighting for the citizens of these United States, those that needed you the most. You worked on reforming the juvenile justice system, pursued deadbeat dads, fought countless corporate monopolies, pursued antitrust violators and bogus healthcare companies.
That official definition of Attorney General? It should have just said, “Janet Reno”. A government employee who clearly worked for the people of her country. Like me, a record laid bare for all the world to clearly see.
Yours in sisterhood,
The Spirit of Justice
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times. Thanks everyone.
// Marginal Utility
"The social-media companies have largely succeeded in persuading users of their platforms' neutrality. What we fail to see is that these new identities are no less contingent and dictated to us then the ones circumscribed by tradition; only now the constraints are imposed by for-profit companies in explicit service of gain.READ the article