The political score card

A partisan analysis of chin flips, punched cops and a proposed memorial to the fallen.


Michael Scherer
March 31, 2006 11:45PM (UTC)

For those of you keeping score at home, here is an update on this week's pettiest political fights:

Boxing Democrats. Republicans think it's a big deal that Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney, a liberal Democrat, allegedly punched a Capitol Hill police officer Wednesday. "How many officers would have to be punched before it becomes a big deal?" asked Ron Bonjean, the spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who also wants to know how often you beat your spouse. Democrats think this is all just a misunderstanding. "I would not make a big deal of this," said Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader of the House. The Capitol Police, meanwhile, seem to be siding with the Republicans. An arrest warrant is expected next week.

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Republicans 1, Democrats 0

Obscene justice. Liberal Democrats think it's a big deal that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a Republican nominee, gave an "obscene" chin flip during a recent visit to a Boston church. The archconservative Scalia does not think it's a big deal. In fact, the justice claimed that the Boston Herald, which first reported the story, had misinterpreted a gesture of dismissiveness for something obscene. The newspaper's staff, Scalia said in a testy letter of protest, had been watching "too many episodes of the Sopranos." Then a freelance photographer came forward with photographic evidence and an eyewitness account of the event. "It's inaccurate and deceptive of [Scalia] to say there was no vulgarity in the moment," the photographer said, before getting fired from his day job for working with the press.

Republicans 1, Democrats 1

Rotunda showdown. Two Democratic leaders, Rep. Rahm Emanuel and Sen. Frank Lautenberg, think it would be a big deal to put a memorial in the Capitol Rotunda to commemorate the lives of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, they have been calling for such a memorial since the summer of 2004. A couple of weeks back they wrote letters to Rep. Hastert and Senate leader Bill Frist asking for a "a bipartisan, bicameral tribute in the Capitol Rotunda to our brave men and women." Then on March 20, the two men introduced legislation calling for the display. Hastert and Frist do not appear to think this is a big deal. Both of their offices have refused to respond to media requests for comment.

Republicans 1, Democrats 2

Democrats win!

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Michael Scherer

Michael Scherer is Salon's Washington correspondent. Read his other articles here.

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