Don't Ask Me About My Jurisprudence, Kay


Living in Manhattan and getting the guest editorial OK from the Gawker Media Home Office means doing Wonkette recon before you're officially on the clock. So all for you, dear reader, did I finagle myself an invite to the least avoidable ethnic circle jerk in town this past weekend: the Columbus Citizens Foundation gala at the Waldorf~Astoria.

The two principal honorees Saturday were the Italian who discovered America, and the one who'd rather it were a little more covered up -- Antonin Scalia. The evening is still largely a blur because it was very early indeed that things like "Gee, I hope nothing happened to Joe Piscapo" started getting said around my table and we decided we were cut off.

Journos were pretty scarce, owing probably to the code of omerta established for the can-miss Q&A session with the surliest jurist of them all. Nothing pertaining to Nino's day job, passed-over promotions therein, or his devout Roman Catholicism.

Unless of course you ask nicely, in which case he opens up like a schoolgirl with a crush...

-- What'd he say about that no-no list of questions? Some people! Right off the bat a front-row type needles Scalia about which "qualities" matter most in a justice, as if such a topical gotcha could ever slither past this linx-like eye. No comment, but the demeanor does the talking for him: the bench all is about dripping condescension and pissed-off cool with every ounce of your unfire-able being. Oh, and incarnating the response, "I'll ask the fucking questions around here."

-- Reporter from the Old Country plays the tribalism card and suddenly we're all friends. It's what's village are you from and how being appointed to SCOTUS is "like taking the veil." (No, really.)

-- Scalia doesn't know much about revisionist history or the modern controversies surrounding Columbus, but he's pretty sure the Indians had it coming.

-- Why didn't he attend Roberts's swearing-in? For the last time, he was out of town with a committment he simply could not break. (Weeping softly into a sable robe, then having it dry-cleaned?)

-- Charmingly begins sentences with "Lookit" if you try his philosopher-magistrate patience too high. This happens a lot.

-- Has so many children, you have to be more specific.

-- Doesn't play piano anymore, alas. Too effete. Prefers now to machine-gun waterfowl with executive branch member who's got chunks bigger than you in his stool.

-- Not disappointed he didn't get the Chief Justiceship. He's not even sure he wanted it because he's 70 years old and, to be honest, it's sort of an insufferable boondoggle, like being dean of a law school or editor of Alan Dershowitz.

-- Serving as Grand Marshal of the Columbus Day Parade is as good as it gets for an Italian boy from Queens who might otherwise be stuck at the office deciding what Enlightenment thinkers in the 18th century meant when they founded our government.

-- Coy Brit asks what kind of adverse impact a certain television show which shall remain nameless has had on the popular perception of Italian-Americans. Apparently, Everybody Loves Raymond has done nothing -- repeat, nothing -- to diminish the accomplishments of many generations of affable, pussy-whipped paisano.

-- What was his impression of Harriet Miers? "Surely there never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision." Who does her bangs, though?


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