Straight, white, and Christian—what other qualifications does a Supreme Court nominee actually need?

While I watched Brett Kavanaugh speak yesterday, I was reminded of the William Butler Yeats poem, “The Second Coming.” I often am when I hear someone speak passionately and convincingly and yet be so blinded by his warped orthodoxy that I want to scream stop. Just, stop!

That poem, written in the dismal period that followed the “war to end all wars” is itself filled with quotable and oft-quoted passages:

–slouching toward Bethlehem

–the centre cannot hold

–mere anarchy is loosed upon the world

But the line I thought of is this:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Enter Brett Kavanaugh, convinced that he will make a stellar justice and excited at the prospect of sitting on the Supreme Court.

He’s wrong, and not because his ideas run counter to mine, but because his preparation for this honor has come not from the equitable dispensing of justice over the years, but from the indoctrination by Republican ideologues who, even if he never pays dividends or never openly acts as their stooge, appear to have bought and paid for him.

I wonder what would happen if Brett Kavanaugh simply appeared one day as a nominee. Not a Republican. Not a Democrat. Just a nominee from thin air with 90% of his past history redacted. I would bet that party lines would dissolve amid the furor of Mr. Nobody from Nowhere having the temerity to think he could be one of the nine.

But that, of course, is not the way it is. Instead, the Republicans—who have already bartered their principles for the occasional affectionate presidential tweet and the chance to make America straight, white, and Christian again—will in lockstep vote him in. After all, he embodies those qualities—and he hugs his kids.

I wonder if all kids—like the ones with gay parents, or brown parents, or Muslim parents—will cherish the same hugs.

And I don’t care if the man feeds the hungry, not if every judicial decision he makes fattens the wallets of billionaires and increases the disparity between the haves and the have-nots.

Brett Kavanaugh will never ensure our Constitutional freedoms unless they involve guns or religion. As such there could hardly be a worse choice at this time or any time, but as Lindsey Graham cynically chided the Democrats yesterday: if you want to appoint judges, win elections.


Brett Kavanaugh—full of passionate intensity and self-righteous charity—is an abysmal choice to ensure our Constitutional freedoms. The foreboding of Yeats’s words from that bleak time a century ago have lost none of their impact here in the dreary political and societal landscapes of 2018.


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