WASHINGTON — If you have read enough pro-Kavanaugh articles, give this one a pass. You are not going to like it. Yet if you have not heard enough, you will probably like this one. I have nothing but congratulatory things to say about Judge Brett Kavanaugh. As with Justice Clarence Thomas, he is a fighter. He is a gifted defender of the truth. And he is worthy of serving on the highest court in the land. I would trust my case with him, and I would trust yours, too, whether you are with him now or against him. He believes in the rule of law.
Since Robert Bork’s “borking” 30 years ago, Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for a high court nominee by a Republican president have become predictable. Democrats, who favor a “living Constitution,” meaning whatever they think the founding document ought to say, are pitted against “originalists,” who believe the document speaks for itself and should be taken as something only slightly less compelling than holy writ.
The voice was instantly recognizable, even though its owner identified himself. ‘'The record shows he has a strange idea of what justice is” intoned American icon and movie star Gregory Peck. The “he” in question was Judge Robert Bork, and Peck was lending his voice to something new in American history: a television commercial attacking a nominee for the United States Supreme Court.
A badge of honor for the late Robert Bork and his supporters? He drew the ire of an undercover Soviet KGB operative in an imaginary scene, set in early October 1987, on FX’s The Americans. At a dinner at a neighbor’s house, college student “Paige Jennings,” played by Holly Taylor, matched American Left hostility at the time toward President Reagan’s Supreme Court nominee: “He opposed anti-segregation laws, he thinks that women aren’t protected under the 14th Amendment.” She soon charged: “A lot of Nazis were brilliant too.”
Some people have called for a balanced budget amendment to our Constitution as a means of reining in a big-spending Congress. That's a misguided vision, for the simple reason that in any real economic sense, as opposed to an accounting sense, the federal budget is always balanced. The value of what we produced in 2017 -- our gross domestic product -- totaled about $19 trillion.
If judicial review means that the U.S. Supreme Court is a de facto super-legislature that can in effect supersede actual legislatures, that’s fine with Washington Monthly blogger Martin Longman. In a Wednesday post, Longman acknowledged that certain SCOTUS rulings over the past several decades have been politically motivated, but argued that those were appropriate remedies for the “deplorable and inexcusable wrongness” of conservatives on issues such as abortion.
Longman’s peg was Charles Grassley’s speech this past week criticizing recent SCOTUS decisions, such as the two in favor of Obamacare, that in Grassley’s view were based on “policy preferences” rather than on the Constitution.
Scatology has typically been out of bounds in mainstream-media political commentary. (Not in all political commentary, of course. For example, actor John Cusack once called former actor Ronald Reagan “a criminal who used the Constitution as toilet paper.”) Nonetheless, Michael Tomasky went there in a Wednesday column trashing Senate Republicans for refusing to consider any Supreme Court nomination made by President Obama.
“I feel pretty confident that if the situation were precisely reversed, the Democrats would be going through the process,” argued Tomasky. “At the end of the day, a majority of them would presumably vote against a conservative, balance-tilting nominee in a presidential election year. So, you might say, it amounts to the same thing…No. It doesn’t amount to the same thing. One approach is called respecting the Constitution. The other approach is called taking a shit on the Constitution.”
New York Times congressional reporter Carl Hulse and White House scribe Julie Hirschfeld Davis teamed up to paint the president as wringing his hands over the current divided state of U.S. politics. One potential culprit almost wholly exonerated? The president himself. Thursday’s report, “Obama’s Plea to ‘Fix Our Politics’ Has Both Sides Looking Inward,” portrayed Obama as regretful, while skipping his bouts of arrogance and the clear animosity he feels toward his GOP opposition. They also pinned the beginning of the division to Robert Bork's failed Supreme Court nomination, without mentioning Sen. Ted Kennedy's scurrilous anti-Bork speech.
It's not enough that liberals sought to destroy a good man's reputation when he was nominated to the Supreme Court. Their efforts at character assassination continue after his passing.
One of the most contemptible examples of this came from Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC show Dec. 19 in talking about the death of Robert Bork and his influence on American jurisprudence and politics over the last four decades. (video clip after page break)
ABC’s Diane Sawyer described Robert Bork, who passed away Wednesday at age 85, as “an icon to conservatives” and NBC anchor Brian Williams called him a “conservative icon,” but CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley decided he was an “arch conservative.” He then played, without censure, a portion of Senator Ted Kennedy’s disgraceful attack and offered up an innocuous definition of “to Bork,” which Pelley asserted simply “means to attack a nominee for political reasons.”
On FNC’s Special Report, however, James Rosen more accurately conveyed: “So epic and nasty was the battle over Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court in the summer of 1987 that the process gave rise to the verb ‘to Bork,’ which the Oxford English Dictionary defines as ‘systematic vilification in the media to block a person’s appointment to public office.’”
Barnicle's first lob bemoaned the difficulties of governing in this hyper-partisan, cable-TV age. His second softball chastised Republicans for their announced intention to oppose Pres. Obama's Supreme Court nominee. Which raises the question: do the names Robert Bork—or Clarence Thomas—mean anything to Mike Barnicle?
We can all grant that Ted Kennedy was a major legislator with his hands in a lot of historic government action. He was at times a very eloquent speaker and was always a passionate fighter. To his side of the aisle, he was their inspirational leader.
Now add the personal story: Two of his brothers were mercilessly assassinated. He was the final Kennedy from that generation. Clearly, when the media spent countless hours mourning the death of John F. Kennedy Jr., a man who never had a political career, the death of an actual Senator of 46 years should be a greater event.
It is not the amount of coverage that bothers, it is the quality of reporting. "[The Kennedys] are the closest thing we have in this country to royalty, the clan's iconic images engraved on our national consciousness." That's how ABC's Claire Shipman put it on the August 26 Good Morning America, echoing what others have been saying across the dial. CBS anchor Harry Smith began this way: "He bore the unspeakable grief and overwhelming hopes of a nation."