Monday, February 23, 2004

Howard Dean has a message responding to the Nader candidacy. One paragraph caught my eye:
Ralph Nader has made many great contributions to America over 40 years. But if George W. Bush is re-elected, the health, safety, consumer, environmental, and open government provisions Ralph Nader has fought for will be undermined. George Bush's right-wing appointees will still be serving as judges fifty years from now, and our Constitution will be shredded. It will be government by, of, and for, the corporations - exactly what Ralph Nader has struggled against.
None of the above is really worth responding to. It's just the usual partisan hyperbole -- both sides do it -- that no one in their right mind could take seriously.

Still, Dean's remark about Bush's judges serving "fifty years from now" is as ludicrous as Quayle spelling "potato" with an "e." The average life expectancy in the U.S. is currently 77.3 years. If Bush's judges could be expected to serve for another 50 years, then that implies that Bush has been appointing judges who are in their late 20s, just out of law school. That is not the case. Bush's youngest appointment thus far is Mark Filip (N.D. Ill.), who was born in 1966. It's possible that Filip might live to be 87, and that he might serve as a judge for that entire time. Still, it is not likely that any substantial number of Bush's appointments, who are mostly in their mid-40s, will serve for 50 years. One recent appointment, Charles Pickering, is going to be 67 years old in May. If he served for another 50 years, he would have to live to age 117.

Now maybe Dean was envisioning that we'll dramatically increase our life-spans over the next fifty years, such that people will commonly work a demanding full-time job well into their 100s. But if that's what Dean thinks, it wasn't reflected in his plan for Social Security.


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