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Kavanaugh & The Elites’ Civil War

Ross Douthat, who graduated from Harvard, has an interesting column up this morning about the Kavanaugh fight as a civil war among America’s Ivy-covered elites.  [1]

His basic point is that everybody involved in the Kavanaugh fight is privileged in a way that sets them far apart from most Americans.

And with that question you’ve struck to the heart of the whole meritocratic game, which depends on a reproduction of privilege that pretends to be something else, something fair and open and all about hard work and just deserts. In this game the people whose privilege is particularly obvious, the boarding schoolers and New York toffs and Bethesda country clubbers, play a crucially important role. It’s not just that their parents pay full freight and keep the economics of tuition viable for everyone. It’s that the eliter-than-elite kids themselves help create a provisional inside-the-Ivy hierarchy that lets all the other privileged kids, the ones who are merely upper-upper middle class, feel the spur of resentment and ambition that keeps us running, keeps us competing, keeps us sharp and awful in all the ways that meritocracy requires.

Douthat goes on to talk about how a Yale alumnus who wrote an unflattering profile of Kavanaugh as a Yale student herself was a child of prep school privilege, as were her main sources. More:

But people also need to recognize that the “profile” we’re being given of Kavanaugh — a creature of privilege who drank a lot in college and sometimes struck other people as a jerk — isn’t the narrow profile of a rapist, and isn’t even the somewhat more expansive profile of a particular kind of arrogant preppy. It’s a profile that fits many of the same people attacking him today — and so part of what we’re watching is one group of meritocrats returning to their undergraduate resentments and trying to pin on Georgetown Prep graduates the vices that define our entire depressing class.

Tl;dr: most of the people attacking Kavanaugh for his “privilege,” and the way he may have behaved in college, are hypocrites. Read the whole thing.  [1]

Here’s an example from the San Francisco TV station KGO: [2]

change_me

She didn’t even know him, but she’s against him, alright, and went on TV as a Yale Law graduate to assert that authority against Kavanaugh.

If you work around American elites, you’ll learn to pick up on a particular kind of phony white person: the person whose guilt over their own privilege displaces itself by manifesting itself as do-gooderism at the expense of others, but never themselves. The political consultant Matthew Dowd, in his latest ABC News column, is a good example. [3]Take a look at these excerpts:

Instead of waiting for the diverse population of America to keep pushing and prodding, I would humbly suggest that we as white male Christians take it upon ourselves to step back and give more people who don’t look like us access to the levers of power.

We don’t have to wait, and our country is in desperate need of more diverse leaders. It is that diverse leadership which will not only represent more of what America looks like today, but it will give us the opportunity to find solutions which homogenous models of leadership aren’t able to.

So: did Matthew Dowd resign his post as ABC News’s political analyst after writing this, to make way for a person of color? Of course not. If he really believed what he is saying here — and wasn’t simply virtue-signaling — he would have tendered his resignation, and in his letter to his supervisors urged them to hire a person of color in his place. Dowd didn’t do this because he expects other white men to lose their jobs, or to be denied opportunities, but not from himself. Funny how the kind of white people who push for what they consider to be “social justice” exclude themselves, and their own position and privileges, from the verdict and sentence.

Now, Matthew Dowd was not Ivy-educated, though he has evidently absorbed the prejudices of his professional and social class. His column, and the sociological phenomenon Douthat identifies in his piece today, explain why I get especially hot when I see, for example, Yale students boycotting classes, and so forth, to protest Evil Yalie Brett Kavanaugh.  [4]I think this has very little to do with Kavanaugh himself, and almost everything to do with the kinds of social resentments that are most prominent in high school and college. What is fascinating is how the people who hold the most privilege in this country fall all over themselves to assert solidarity with the people who are, in the hierarchy of the progressive left, victims of society.

You think any of those white Yale Law students taking to the barricades to stop Evil Yalie Brett Kavanaugh plan to drop out and give up their slot at Yale Law to a person of color? You think any of them, in the future, will insist that their kids apply only to Big State U. so as not to deny a slot at an Ivy League college to “one of the most vulnerable”? Please.

Do you think that Yale Law students who are people of color have the slightest recognition of their own extraordinary cultural privilege — which is quickly going to translate to economic privilege after graduation — relative to the overwhelming majority of Americans, including white Americans? Please.

I don’t think that Brett Kavanaugh is a Man Of The People, and I don’t care. Nobody who makes it to the US Supreme Court is ever going to be a Man Of The People, given the nature of the job. We shouldn’t want that, anyway. We should want men and women who have demonstrated an extraordinary mastery of the law, and who have good character (and “good character” is not assessed solely by how they behaved, or might have behaved, in high school and college).

I don’t think for one second that the Ivy League elites who are trying to knock off Kavanaugh’s nomination really care about his alcohol habits in college. They’re just throwing everything they can think of at him to see if anything sticks, and takes him down. For whatever reason, the “white male” has become a hate fetish among American elites. Kavanaugh — an elite white male — has become the scapegoat for other white elites, who project onto him their own anxieties about being power-holders within a worldview that considers them guilty by virtue of their own race (and, for some, their sex). If they can offload that guilt onto Kavanaugh, then they will restore their sense of order within their culture, and will have proved that Kavanaugh was a threat to the communal peace. In this way these white elites will have preserved their own privilege within the system, at the mere cost of destroying the ambitions and reputation of an innocent man.

What they don’t understand is that the same scapegoat mechanism that identifies the Republican Kavanaugh as guilty by virtue of his race and sex is eventually going to be turned on them too, despite their having demonstrated their liberal allyship. The revolution will eat its own. As Maximilian Robespierre, the original Social Justice Warrior, declared, “Terror is only justice prompt, severe and inflexible; it is then an emanation of virtue.”

I hope that the next Supreme Court nominee will not have graduated from an Ivy League law school. The nation could do without the resentments and anxieties of these neurotic people poisoning the well of public discourse.

You know who I’d like to hear from on this question? Yale Law graduate J.D. Vance.

UPDATE: Here is the latest  comment from Matt in VA, who really needs his own blog:

There are probably five or six major things that really shaped where I ended up politically today, and my experience as a class outsider in college at an Ivy was definitely one of those things.

I didn’t grow up poor. No experience with welfare or going hungry or not knowing where I would be sleeping or having to wear only ill-fitting hand-me-downs. I grew up middle class, in a house. Both my parents have bachelor’s degrees. I’m from rural New England–not too, too far from Yale, actually! Went to public school.

But when I started college at an Ivy League school, I very quickly discovered that I was in the bottom 10-15% of my peers in terms of family wealth and income. How do I know this? Well, I was eligible for work-study, and I got a job in the financial aid and work-study eligibility office, and had access to the guidelines determining eligibility as well as who was eligible. I had been given the maximum amount of grants by my school, from its (flush) coffers, as well as the maximum amount of work-study eligibility (work-study is a program for students in which your family’s financial resources determines how much money you can earn; the money comes from the government, not from the school itself).

Of course, I also had my own eyes and ears to tell me where my upbringing and background put me, compared to the other students. It was *very* easy to pick up on the fact that not only were a huge percentage of the other freshmen Exeter and Andover and Harvard-Westlake grads, etc., but that even the ones who had gone to public school all seemed to have gone to places like Greenwich High School or Mountain View High School. And seemingly *everybody’s* parents had gone to Ivies or Stanford or Berkeley or Chicago. People know about the Ivies and legacy admits, but an absolutely huge portion of those who aren’t legacies are only not legacies because they went to Princeton while their father went to Brown, or something like that.

I was constantly meeting people who were descended from or related to influential figures. I had class with somebody whose ancestor, with whom he shared a last name, is the name of one of the main bridges crossing the Hudson between NYC and Albany; I had a different class with (someone who is now) Bill Kristol’s son-in-law; I lived down the hall from someone who is now a leading reporter with CNN (and who I remember snorting coke using $100 bills — literally — at a freshman year party); my best friend at college had class with a Vanderbilt (it was a class where they read Marx!) And these were the big deal people… the “normal” “typical” students were those who merely had two or three different family friends who wrote for the New York Times or Washington Post.

One almost never met students who didn’t at least have one parent who was a lawyer, doctor, journalist, or Wall Street banker. But because one not infrequently met students who were the children of millionaires and multimillionaires, most of my peers didn’t see themselves as rich.

One of my friends in particular — he was the son of a Harvard professor father (his mother was also a professor, at a different Boston area school), and he grew up in a Cambridge townhouse which I saw when visiting the city — it was very, very nice — and he went to a Boston-area prep school that sent at least 2 other students, that year, besides him, to the same Ivy… and he was a leftist who *constantly* talked about the rich and the privileged and who had no sense whatsoever that he might be referring to himself. Later, after college, he was hugely involved in Occupy Wall Street. He is a very passionate person who I promise you would *never* be able to understand or comprehend the idea that he himself is, well, upper-class, and he would never “step aside” to let a poor person of color have his spot in anything.

These people don’t see themselves clearly. One of the things they *really* don’t understand is how they have a tremendous advantage over others simply due to the *connections* that they have. For example, plenty of journalists don’t make that much money. But journalism is an arena with lots of *influence* and just about everything is *who you know*. Who can you reach out to to get a quote? Who can put your name in front of the right person? Who can call in a favor for you if you’re trying to break in to the field? Journalism is of course famously nepotistic. Well, it was amazing to me to see how my peers seemingly all knew people in journalism already — they all had family friends who could pull them into the business if that’s what they wanted to do. And it might mean low or even no pay for a while while they worked their way up, but they *knew* they had family resources they could fall back on. There was no question that if they needed Mom and Dad to subsidize NYC rent for a year while they built their resume of placed articles, or cut their teeth at Good Morning America or whatever, they could. And since they themselves weren’t making big money yet, they saw themselves as poor. They really did! There was a similar phenomenon with the $/finance types — they know people worth $50 million, so they think that if they come from families worth $1-2 million they’re middle-class.

Ross Douthat himself is a great example of this mentality. He is somewhat self-aware in the column you are quoting here, Mr. Dreher. But I read Douthat’s first book, about his time at Harvard. And in that book, he, the great-grandson of a Connecticut governor, the son of a Stanford-educated parent and a Yale-educated parent, the graduate of a Connecticut elite private school, a “lowly commoner.” With no sense of irony! One cannot stress enough how little these people understand that there is a vast world of difference between the gradations in their social spheres and the rest of the country. Even if they might get it at some level, they don’t really feel it.

It was really something for me to see so many students/college peers whose politics and aesthetics was leftist/anti-establishment/F*** the System move seamlessly after graduation into spots on Wall Street, or with the most legacy media companies, or into “consulting.” Though some didn’t do that; some sort of coasted on their parents’ money for a while longer.

The students in college who came from families with a similar amount of or less wealth than mine were nearly 100% children of immigrants, mostly from Asia. There were, to be fair, quite a substantial number of such students, probably one out of ten of the student body as as whole. But I generally didn’t have too much in common with this type of student. They were usually from places like Queens; a fair number of them were total grinds.

There were basically zero poor or lower-middle-class whites. White Baptists or white evangelical Christians — forget it. When you compare the student body statistics at my college to the statistics for the general American population, white Christians were significantly more underrepresented than blacks, Hispanics, or Asians (Asians were, of course, overrepresented).

Lots and lots of the black students were either a) immigrants or children of immigrants, certainly not descendants of American slaves or b) black Exeter or Andover grads–i.e. plenty rich themselves. And a *huge* percentage of the “Hispanic” population was lily-white (skin lighter than mine) Latin-American-Overclass immmigrants or children of immigrants, like the guy who dated my best friend freshman year, who had checked “Hispanic” on the application (he confessed to her one night) because his mother was the daughter of an Argentinian diplomat. This guy was every bit as white as me, didn’t speak Spanish, private school K-12 in D.C.

Anyway. To be fair. I really did have bad, middle-class ugly-American taste in a lot of things, and the nudges and guidance my college peers gave me on certain aesthetic matters really was good. I *was* unsophisticated; I *did* need to be steered better. And I think it’s probably inevitable for a society to have its lawyer/doctor/priest (=media figure, today) classes, and for the institutions that produce the major figures in these classes to be mostly made up of the children of these classes. I also have a soft spot for my alma mater because it is still committed to a liberal arts education in a way so, so few universities or colleges these days are.

But yes, the constant assertions from all these rich brats that they are on the side of the powerless — it’s like that quote about how the purpose of political propaganda is not to convince, but to humiliate, by compelling you to assent to the most obvious untruths. And the idea that heavy drinking in high school and college is beyond the pale to these people — well, my experience was that nearly everybody drank, and I mean a lot, and quite a lot of people did drugs, too. These are people who had the money and power to make many/most problems go away. The roadblocks to drug use that society puts up to ensnare or punish people for drug use simply weren’t a reality to these students.

I’m not even sure I like or dislike people of this class more than I like or dislike anybody else. But they determine, more than anyone else, the political rhetoric in this country, and they do not know themselves, do *not* represent the powerless, and “the system” as it exists today is their system, which they were born into and which they move into and populate as adults.

126 Comments (Open | Close)

126 Comments To "Kavanaugh & The Elites’ Civil War"

#1 Comment By Harve On October 3, 2018 @ 5:00 pm

“She didn’t even know him, but she’s against him, alright, and went on TV as a Yale Law graduate to assert that authority against Kavanaugh.”

This is incoherent as her opposition seems to be based on his obvious lies and distortions, not about anything from her time at Yale with him personally. Time and place is going to get one access to a venue, big surprise. If Kavanaugh had gone to Harvard Law folks from Harvard Law would have access.

“The retired lawyer from Hillsborough says when Kavanaugh was first nominated, she was asked to sign two competing petitions, one for him, one against.

She signed neither.”

She, like a bunch of other elite law and prep school folks were sucked into this and she is merely stating her opinion. If she was “for” would you still be critical? Do you really believe that those sixty five women actually had a close enough relationship with Kavenaugh to honestly vouch for his character?

Also, as a Yale Law grad I assume she has read some of his opinions and finds them lacking. You might actually try reading Garza and Sea World.

#2 Comment By Sasquatch On October 3, 2018 @ 5:17 pm

Willy Loman writes:

“She is trying to ruin his life for political purposes, which is evil and justifies his anger. OR, if she is telling the truth, lying is the least of his sins.”

I appreciate your clarity. A question for you, Rod, and others:
Without referring to whether or not it is possible for anyone other than Blasey-Ford, Kavanaugh, and Judge to know with certainity, WHAT IF BLASEY-FORD IS TELLING THE TRUTH? (Work the same “What if … ” thought experiment for Ramirez and Swetnick as well.)
You are not wrestling with this. What if she is telling the truth, this happened, and she thought it her civic duty to come forward? If she is telling the truth, than all of those whose gut feeling that she is truthful – and he and Judge are lying – have the right of it, and those whose gut feeling that she is lying have been betrayed by their own instincts. So how about at least some commentary acknowledging the possibility that all of you supporting Kavanaugh are wrong, and thus the implications of your words and behavior these past weeks towards all your fellow citizens on the other side of the issue.

“Anyway, young people tend to speak whimsically and jokingly about what they did or plan to do, both with regard to drinking and sex. K says he was a virgin all through HS and college, daring any woman to come forward and refute him. So far none has.”

The foolishness of this response is an example to me of how thick-headed the defenses of Kavanaugh sound. Without even getting in to the psychology of male sexual frustration, it is simple fact that a person can be both a virgin, and guilty of attempted rape.

“Not all affluent preppy kids are shallow or arrogant. I have known rich, well-connected preppies who were shallow and entitled but others who were kind, reverent, studious, polite, and humble. We project onto them our fantasy of what a high class person must be like, but it says more about us than about them.”

Who’s this “we” of which you speak? Not all of us project on to our fellow Americans our fantasies as to who they may be. We look at each person as an individual, take cues and draw conclusions from their characteristics and histories, and do the best we can to weigh in the present moment their behavior and how we should behave towards them. Human Life Skills 101 stuff, in other words. I see very little evidence in the total story available of Kavanaugh that he is “kind, reverent, studious, polite, and humble.” In fact, pretty much the exact opposite seems to be the conclusion of the vast majority of Americans.

[NFR: You say that “we” are not wrestling with this. Some aren’t, but others are. I didn’t think much about it at first, but after reading a lot of commentary, I took it more seriously. Still, I don’t think there is nearly enough evidence to conclude that she is telling the truth. In the end, we have to make a call based on facts and logic, not who we like and who we don’t like. — RD]

#3 Comment By cka2nd On October 3, 2018 @ 5:20 pm

Al Bundy says: “Similarly, class tensions are largely non-existent in other parts of the country.”

Who cares if “class tensions are largely non-existent in other parts of the country.” (although JonF legitimately questions that statement) when unions are busted, wages driven down and jobs off-shored? And, frankly, while its nice that everyday relations between the races are generally more comfortable in the South than in the Northeast, poverty – black AND white poverty – is worse in the South. I’m sorry, but your whole comment felt like merely a conservative version of one that a SJW cultural leftist could have written.

#4 Comment By cka2nd On October 3, 2018 @ 5:37 pm

Jonah R. says: “Time was, we used to see programs that brought classical music and other highbrow offerings to the poor.”

Nothing is too good for the working class, as my old Trotskyist comrades would say.

#5 Comment By EngineerScotty On October 3, 2018 @ 6:02 pm

The irony: the most obviously “privileged” people in the country aren’t white men, it’s upper class white women. The whole system has been set up for their benefit. The opinions of these princesses are not only widely heard they are considered normative.

How so?

#6 Comment By cka2nd On October 3, 2018 @ 6:03 pm

Siarlys Jenkins says: “And that says it all. I never tire of recommending Don West’s essay Romantic Appalachia: Or, Poverty Pays If You Ain’t Poor.”

I just read an article about the Appalachian Movement Press, which re-published a lot of Don West’s work in the 1970’s, in the sixth issue of Signal: A Journal of International Political Graphics & Culture. Lots of other interesting stuff in that issue, by the way, especially for someone like me with history in the Asian-American Movement of the 1980’s (“Basement Workshop”) and family connections to Lebanon (“Jamaa Al-Yad”).

#7 Comment By EngineerScotty On October 3, 2018 @ 6:23 pm

Me: ~~If nothing else, the Kavanaugh affair has knocked a hole in the right-wing pretense that “the elites” are a mainly liberal crowd.~~

Rob: Not so. They are largely “socially liberal but fiscally conservative.” I’m old enough to remember when so-called moderates (from both parties) described themselves that way. Haven’t heard it in years though — because it’s now the default position of most of them.

Part of the problem is the meaning of the word “elite”. For a long time, the word has been a term of praise, and in many contexts it still is: an “elite athlete” is one who is very good at his or her chosen sport, or otherwise excels at athletics; an “elite musician” is one who is a virtuoso, and so forth.

But in socio-political terminology, it has become a term of abuse–a term implying someone who has excessive, and likely undeserved (in the sense that it is conferred as an accident of birth or circumstance, rather than being earned–although note that many elite athletes and musicians possess natural abilities that others cannot match, no matter how much time spent practicing), privilege of some sort. (There’s that P word again!).

As someone else pointed out above, “elite” seems to be the buzzword the right uses for this phenomenon, “privilege” is a term more preferred on the left.

But it’s good to recognize that yes, it exists.

Brett Kavanaugh, and the vast majority of the makeup of the Court, and most politicians in DC? All of them “elites” in some sense; many of them born with silver spoons in their mouths. They of course possess great power by virtue of offices, but most come from backgrounds that gave them a leg up to the corridors of power. Dr. Ford and Brett Kavanaugh are both certainly “elites” in that sense; attending prep schools that serve to cater to this particular class. And yes, they definitely differ on matters of cultural politics. Dr. Ford is far less “elite” these days than Kavanaugh, not being part of the corridors of power; but she is probably better situated economically than most Americans.

But those who aren’t “elites” in this sense–who attend public schools; for whom a criminal indictment would either result in bankruptcy or the need to depend on the public defender’s office; who don’t have a large thicket of connections, etc… lots of the rest of us don’t seem to like one another, and prefer to ally with the elites that share our cultural prejudices.

But, the important thing is–elite privilege exists. The same people who condemn it here defend it there. Many people who will complain about the unfairness of the classes above them–turn around and despise the classes below them, and proclaim what trash they are and how their dire circumstances are entirely deserved and should not be ameliorated in the slightest.

#8 Comment By TR On October 3, 2018 @ 7:45 pm

I was a grad student and then an instructor in the sixties at UVa (proudly known unofficially then as the “Princeton of the South”) and Matt in VA’s comments remind me of how snooty an undergraduate body could be. Almost all the graduate students and the young instructors simply found the snobbery amusing–when not painful. And the drinking, by the way, was out of control.

#9 Comment By Matt in VA On October 3, 2018 @ 8:35 pm

muad’dib says:
October 3, 2018 at 4:48 pm
How many poor or lower-middle-class whites, white Baptists or white evangelical Christians can score 2100 or better on a SAT… If the Deplorables want to go to the Ivies or other elite colleges, they should stop complaining and do the work: get a 2100 or better on their SAT, play a musical instrument, participate in some sport & community activity. There is a reason Asians are over represented at the Elite Colleges, they do the work.

The obvious rejoinder to this is that there are many, many more working-class whites who can do this than there are blacks or Hispanics, and yet the Ivies make a point of making sure that blacks and Hispanics are admitted at roughly their share, or at least not too far from their share, of the general American population.

#10 Comment By ludo On October 3, 2018 @ 8:39 pm

Kavanaugh is a sort of Le Carre-type judicial figure, “the Forrest Gump of Washington” or “Zelig of Republican politics,” that means CIA, FBI, presidential, State Dept, etc., connections up the wazoo. This makes him very interesting, a bottomless pit of secrets to be sure (Clintonian, Bushian, Cheneyian, and on and on), and consequently possibly a very attractive political target, political scapegoat of some kind. The subcutaneous reality of what is presently happening to him image and career wise may very well be related to the aforementioned curricula of spy-ishly secrets and lies.

#11 Comment By Matt in VA On October 3, 2018 @ 8:45 pm

Erin M. says:
October 3, 2018 at 4:41 pm
Matt in VA, I was trying to explain a principle with examples. Those examples may or may not hold up to detailed scrutiny, but that is besides the point… People try to maximize their personal gain; the system tries to maximize equity. That’s why I believe in progressive taxation and government healthcare, that’s why I believe in social programs, that’s why I believe (in certain cases) in programs for women/minorities/low-income folks, etc.

I am bothered by the degree to which liberals today seem to get their economic agenda from actors/actresses or the rich (it is *insane* to me how many liberals reference Warren Buffett when they talk about this stuff, like that’s a slam-dunk case; we should do what Warren Buffett wants, politically/economically speaking! Uh…) This reminds me of how nearly 100% of my Good Liberal friends acted like it was the death of Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr when Steve Jobs died… there is this horribly gross woke-capitalism thing on the left/liberal side these days that just turns my stomach like nothing else.

But… the conservative side is largely no better. And sometimes worse.

I will say that I kind of feel like we could agree on a lot — I think you are right to support progressive taxation and government healthcare, and you probably support a lot of stuff I’d have to say is quite sensible and favorable… and yet we are probably vastly and diametrically opposed on other things and never the twain shall meet in reality… such is life…

#12 Comment By Sasquatch On October 3, 2018 @ 8:47 pm

“NFR: You say that “we” are not wrestling with this. Some aren’t, but others are. I didn’t think much about it at first, but after reading a lot of commentary, I took it more seriously. Still, I don’t think there is nearly enough evidence to conclude that she is telling the truth. In the end, we have to make a call based on facts and logic, not who we like and who we don’t like. — RD”

Yet Rod, respectfully, you prove the point by the end of the paragraph. How does this qualify as wrestling? Even though you believe there is not enough evidence, that does not mean you are right. And that is exactly where I believe your position founders as a matter of reason.

You must decide whether or not to support Kavanaugh based on facts. And appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States has always come with the highest level of scrutiny of facts. Heck, I’m old enough to remember when hiring an illegal nanny or being accused of smoking pot was enough to break a candidate’s chances.

A lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should only be given to those Americans of the highest character, as determined through every available method.

Even if Ford, Ramirez, and Swetnick are lying, and even if all those who have since come forward who seem to confirm that Kavanaugh is misrepresenting his drinking are liars, then it STILL doesn’t mean that Kavanaugh belongs on the Court. And the fact that the very serious accusations against him cannot be proven or disproven doesn’t logically lead to the conclusion that he belongs on the Court.

I’m happy to list out all the reasons I don’t believe he shouldn’t be – the ones I had when he was nominated and the ones that I have reached since.

But my biggest problem is the one that his supporters seem so desperate to avoid discussing – the fact that he accepted this nomination from President Trump. I have no respect for anyone who would debase themselves, as Kavanaugh has done, by subjugating themselves to Donald. (See for example Kavanaugh’s craven statement at the announcement about “no president in history having ever consulted with as many people before making a selection” B.S.)

Simply put, Donald Trump is a corrupt criminal (statement of fact) who is incompetent at serving as President (opinion which can be debated). Because the President is incompetent, Americans cannot trust that he has properly vetted Kavanaugh and that he is putting forward the best candidate.

Why are we even talking about Brett Kavanaugh at all? It’s not like he won a bowl game tournament bracket in order to earn the slot for the Supreme Court. There are countless other Americans who could serve. We are considering him – and his defenders are bound to defend him – because you of Donald Trump. Every time you defend him, what you are doing is defending the wisdom and personnel decisions of Donald Trump.

And that is sheer madness. And you know why, unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past two years. Any selection of Donald Trump deserves even more scrutiny than previous selections, simply because they were selected by him and thus need remedial vetting. And Kavanaugh has not cleared that bar.

No one is calling for him to be arrested, unlike Dr. Blasey-Ford, who has to worry about what actions will be taken by people like those in the Mississippi mob last night who chanted that she be locked up. And Dr. Blasey-Ford’s job, unlike Judge Kavanaugh’s, does not come with a security detail. Perhaps she is lying, as Rod says he believes, and I am wrong. BUT. If I am right, and she is telling the truth, America will have placed an attempted rapist on the Supreme Court.

That is the part Kavanaugh’s supporters seem to not be addressing. Even if we never find out definitely either way – the most likely outcome by far – if Kavanaugh is lying we will have placed a sexually abusive predator on the Supreme Court. How about at least a post or two about, say, the implications of that history on American jurisprudence?

Like the folks on this site who call for a national divorce, I don’t expect a return of our ability to communicate across our cultural divides. Rod wrote last week about how the Orthodox Church would be best served by rejecting any form of dialogue with Church members who want reforms around LGBT issues, and talked about how the concept of “dialogue” is used in religion to begin a process that inevitably leads to the overturning of tradition. I believe that this kind of intransigence has now metastasized across the U.S., in to all social issues. As a people, we no longer believe we have anything to learn from those with whom we disagree, and increasingly can’t bear to even give them the space to present their ideas.

So like a couple heading for divorce, we argue about everything other than the deepest issues where we differ. And in Kavanaugh’s case, some of the hardest issues, the ones about sex and power, are present in spades. It’s possible he’s lying. It’s possible his accusers are lying. The primary institutional safeguard – deferring to the wisdom of the Chief Executive – is hilariously unavailable in this case. And yes, in that case, I’m quite happy as an American citizen to live in a world where the word of a number of women about sexual violence is enough to raise doubt about who fills those roles in society requiring the highest levels of trust and character possible.

And that’s the real fight here. Men are guilty of the vast majority of sexual violence in America, and this violence is considered much less acceptable today than it was 35 years ago. Society changes. And I’m quite happy for society and government to do much more to discourage sexually violent behavior that was winked at in the 80s and earlier, and today is still winked at and downplayed too often. I’ll go so far as to model my final thoughts on President Trump’s remarks about immigration from majority Muslim countries – “Let’s shut this whole thing down until we get a handle on what’s really going on.” Only half jokingly, I’d suggest a 10 year moratorium on any men being nominated to the Supreme Court, for starters.

#13 Comment By Erin M. On October 3, 2018 @ 9:50 pm

Matt in VA says:
I am bothered by the degree to which liberals today seem to get their economic agenda from actors/actresses or the rich

I can’t speak for other liberals, but I sited Buffet precisely because he’s well known; I didn’t take my political or economic views from him. Frankly, it’s myself that I actually had in mind when I wrote that, but I don’t like to get personal about financial matters so I substituted a famously wealthy liberal instead. While I certainly do give donations individually, like most people, I also take every tax deduction and try to pay the least amount of taxes (with the exception of the Oregon “kicker” refund, which I always send back to the general school fund. That one always kind of hurts, but it’s schools, I couldn’t face myself in the mirror if I didn’t). However, I frequently vote for my taxes to go up. That exemplifies my philosophy, I’m not cribbing notes from any actors or celebrities.

Super with you on Steve Jobs though.

#14 Comment By Werd On October 3, 2018 @ 10:13 pm

Hearing people talk about the class distinctions in New England/D.C. is slightly strange. There’s certainly class distinctions in the South, but nowhere near anything like what I hear described in articles like this. There were for sure circles of “popular rich kids” that I was apart of in high school and into my early college years, but everyone from the heirs to Coca Cola/ oil fortunes to kids with typical middle class backgrounds were apart of those groups. It’s kind of hard to imagine a culture with what seems like caste systems in the US.

#15 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 3, 2018 @ 10:49 pm

The obvious rejoinder to this is that there are many, many more working-class whites who can do this than there are blacks or Hispanics

Evidence please.

And the notion of circulating petitions concerning a nomination to the Supreme Court is ludicrous. Petitions have nothing to do with the nomination or confirmation process.

#16 Comment By Craig in OH On October 3, 2018 @ 11:55 pm

So this is not really a debate about whether or not a nominee assaulted a women years ago, while in the midst of a drinking binge, and might now be trying to cover up his past misdeed by being less than forthcoming about his behavior back then. Instead it is part of one or more cultural wars, battles between liberals and conservatives, elites vs non-elites, insiders vs outsiders? It isn’t anything to do with Kavanaugh’s character, as reflected by his past behavior. Rather it is a battle to save all of white male America from a future of persecution. You have to admit that moves the discussion onto safer, more familiar ground. It is much better than having to grapple with the disturbing possibility that maybe he isn’t as decent and honorable as you want to believe he is.

It is fair to note that an unsupported accusation by itself is not good enough to get a criminal conviction. But this isn’t a criminal case. I seems like it should be an evaluation of the individual’s suitability to be a Supreme Court judge, which might require different standards of inquiry. Or are we now saying that if the candidate may have committed crimes, they can be overlooked as long as the evidence isn’t good enough to secure a criminal complaint? In that case, by all means, suppress any further investigation of the matter, less we find evidence that is more disqualifying.

#17 Comment By Al Bundy On October 4, 2018 @ 12:39 am

@cka2nd: Who cares if “class tensions are largely non-existent in other parts of the country.” (although JonF legitimately questions that statement) when unions are busted, wages driven down and jobs off-shored?”

You might be surprised that I probably agree with you regarding unions, wages, and offshoring. I’m from a big UAW family. But that wasn’t really the crux of my post. My point was that the Washington-NYC media axis is stoking hatred on a national level, when in reality, many of these anxieties are felt most keenly in the Northeast. Perhaps we need agitation from East Coast elites to alleviate poverty in the South and Rust Belt, but we definitely don’t need Princeton grads hastening the race-class-gender apocalypse.

#18 Comment By James Kabala On October 4, 2018 @ 11:39 am

For Al Bundy and others: Most people in the Northeast have only the vaguest idea that these prep schools even exist, let alone do they care what goes on there. People obviously are aware that the Ivy League universities exist, but they do not have much effect on daily life. As Douthat noted, the few people who resent the highest-level elite are the ones who are one step below that level themselves, which is probably true in all regions of the country.

#19 Comment By EngineerScotty On October 4, 2018 @ 11:57 am

[NFR: You say that “we” are not wrestling with this. Some aren’t, but others are. I didn’t think much about it at first, but after reading a lot of commentary, I took it more seriously. Still, I don’t think there is nearly enough evidence to conclude that she is telling the truth. In the end, we have to make a call based on facts and logic, not who we like and who we don’t like. — RD]

Do you believe she is lying, then? Or misremembering? Is this based simply on a belief that BK is telling the truth, and both of them cannot be right; so ipso facto she is a liar?

The idea that a rich prep school kid might get drunk and get excessively fresh with a teenage girl–to the point that the encounter might be considered “attempted rape” per modern mores, and might have blacked the whole thing out, strikes me as a bit more credible as the notion that a cabal of Democratic politicians and activists have managed to find a whole collection of people from Kavanaugh’s past, and convinced them to make fabricated accusations concerning his behavior as a youth.

Because that’s what seems to be being alleged by Kavanaugh’s defenders. When Kavanaugh is compared to Gorsuch, it is alleged the only reason Gorsuch is being spared is that he replaced the equally-conservative Scalia rather than the culturally-libertarian Kennedy, as if Chuck Schumer could have snapped his fingers and had a few women from Gorsuch’s past magically appear and accuse him of rape and drunkenness. Perhaps the difference is that these women are indeed telling the truth, or at least think they are, and that Gorsuch has no similar skeletons in his closet?

Do you believe, as BK alleged, that this is a giant set of fabrications cooked up by a Democratic conspiracy?

#20 Comment By Anon On October 4, 2018 @ 12:08 pm

What is really interesting is how the elites are turning on each other.

Yes, it’s a little club that most of us are excluded from, but who really wants to be a member of this dysfunctional class.

I went to college with some extremely wealthy kids and they all seemed very sad and lost to me.

#21 Comment By Thrice A Viking On October 4, 2018 @ 2:27 pm

Rod, I believe that the female classmate of Kavanaugh’s would be an alumna, not an alumnus. On the non-picky-picky side, I agree with your assessment of Matthew Dowd. On This Week with George Stephanopolous, he combines the most smug commentary with a state of abject ignorance for someone in that position. He thinks that our judicial system’s principle of “innocent until proven guilty” is compatible with “believe the woman [over the man’s denial]”, thinks Federal judges can be fired just like special prosecutors, and refused to apologize to a fellow guest for calling him a liar, or even to acknowledge that he had done so.

#22 Comment By cka2nd On October 4, 2018 @ 3:06 pm

I felt bad about my post almost as soon as I posted it, Mr. Bundy, so I want to apologize for its intemperate tone. I’m still not sure that I agree with the crux of your post about media elites stoking Northeast-style hatred on a national basis, but one of my comrades did call me a parochial New Yorker back in the 80’s, and that probably hasn’t changed much with only a few hundred miles distance.

#23 Comment By cka2nd On October 4, 2018 @ 3:13 pm

Werd says: “Hearing people talk about the class distinctions in New England/D.C. is slightly strange. There’s certainly class distinctions in the South, but nowhere near anything like what I hear described in articles like this. There were for sure circles of ‘popular rich kids’ that I was apart of in high school and into my early college years, but everyone from the heirs to Coca Cola/ oil fortunes to kids with typical middle class backgrounds were apart of those groups. It’s kind of hard to imagine a culture with what seems like caste systems in the US.”

Is it possible that the class differences among whites were, in part, overridden by the racial divide between whites and blacks, so that the middle and upper classes WITHIN the color group socialized together, to the exclusion of the other color group AND working class or lumpen members of either color group? My impression is that blacks and whites, while segregated in both North and South, were nonetheless physically closer in the South than in the North, with the result that intra-white relations in the North could be sharper without the physical presence of black folk driving whites together.

#24 Comment By cka2nd On October 4, 2018 @ 3:43 pm

To Matt in VA and Erin M.,

My impression is that liberals mainly cite Warren Buffet for his quality as, at least in part, a class traitor, somewhat akin to FDR and totally at odds with the Koch brothers.

One would hope that the liberal, touchy-feely love affair with Steve Jobs did not survive the revelations of Apple’s production practices in China, its hoarding of mountains of money in off-shore tax havens and his central role in a vast scheme to hold down programmer wages in Silicon Valley, all of which happened well past his “arrogant bastard” youthful stage. But hey, I still know crunchy libs who think all Buddhists are peaceful, so maybe their eyes are still shut when it comes to what a complete swine Jobs ALWAYS was.

Matt in VA says: “…there is this horribly gross woke-capitalism thing on the left/liberal side these days that just turns my stomach like nothing else.”

Amen! Within the Democratic Party, it’s the uber-capitalist Clinton wing that is grossly “woke” and berates the Sanders wing for being insufficiently woke even though the other side is better on trade, economic and financial issues. The Sanders wing also seems to include most of the few peacenik Dems left, although their leader can be counted on to follow the Clinton wing slavishly in most areas of foreign and military policy.

Matt in VA says: “I will say that I kind of feel like we could agree on a lot — I think you are right to support progressive taxation and government healthcare, and you probably support a lot of stuff I’d have to say is quite sensible and favorable… and yet we are probably vastly and diametrically opposed on other things and never the twain shall meet in reality… such is life…”

Hell, if Black nationalists and the Chinatown tongs could come together to protest police brutality in the 1980’s in New York City, I’ve always figured anything is possible. I wish Paul and Sanders had collaborated on more legislative matters when they were in the Congress together; for that matter, I wish Sanders had accepted the Green Party nomination after the 2016 Democratic convention and then publicly offered Paul the Secretary of Defense job in a future Sanders Administration!. And Pat Buchanan SHOULD have been invited to the big anti-Iraq War marches. One of the Troskyist groups I know, the International Bolshevik Tendency, organized anti-war demos in New Zealand alongside conservative groups (the official call for the march was single issue, but marchers could address any issue they liked in their chants, signs and fliers, and speakers could stretch way beyond the official call as long as they maintained some connection to the anti-war theme), but both sides were muscled aside by the “professional” liberal-left anti-war groups, many of whose leaders serve as left-wing covers for the Labour Party like ours do for the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. I think there are a host of economic and safety net issues on which the bases of the Democratic and Republican parties agree, but the establishment of both parties answer to Wall Street, not Main Street.

#25 Comment By Rick On October 5, 2018 @ 12:45 pm

[NFR: You say that “we” are not wrestling with this. Some aren’t, but others are. I didn’t think much about it at first, but after reading a lot of commentary, I took it more seriously. Still, I don’t think there is nearly enough evidence to conclude that she is telling the truth. In the end, we have to make a call based on facts and logic, not who we like and who we don’t like. — RD]

And the facts are that Kavanaugh perjured himself before the Senate regarding a key aspect of his testimony — drinking.

And that drinking pattern is related to the Ford accusations.

It’s not like he lied about Doritos consumption.

This isn’t about elites.

It’s about perjury regarding social behavior that is inextricably linked to rape and sexual assault.

And that disqualifies him alone. That he lied about a related issue.

Why lie? That’s a felony.

Beyond that it was terrible lawyering.

He took what was a limited he said she said situation in which there are no corroborating witnesses and expanded it to include ANYONE who saw him blind drunk in college.

Good job Kav!!!!

As I’ve said before there are those who’ve been wrongfully imorisoned due to police and prosecutorial misconduct. Men — mostly of color — who spent decades in hell on earth who carried themselves 1000 times better than Brett Kavanaugh did last Thursday.

They didn’t sniff, talk back to questioners sarcastically, blame the Clintons or any other nonsense in a courtroom.

That also disqualifies Mr. Kavanaugh. His temperament.

I was raised by a defense attorney so my take is entirely based on 3 aspects.

1. Judicial restraint
2. legal competency under pressure
3. the ability to manage ones client during proceedings and testimony

He failed miserably at all three. Had he been representing someone they’d be in prison most likely.

Only they wouldn’t have the luxury of a mea culpa op ed piece.

Instead they’d have the luxury of the appeals process for bad council.

#26 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On October 5, 2018 @ 5:39 pm

One would hope that the liberal, touchy-feely love affair with Steve Jobs did not survive the revelations of Apple’s production practices in China, its hoarding of mountains of money in off-shore tax havens and his central role in a vast scheme to hold down programmer wages in Silicon Valley, all of which happened well past his “arrogant bastard” youthful stage.

One doesn’t waste time hoping that liberals will stop being liberals. These are the things that liberals do.

But that’s probably close to what cka2nd meant.

I think there are a host of economic and safety net issues on which the bases of the Democratic and Republican parties agree, but the establishment of both parties answer to Wall Street, not Main Street.

Yes. The coming socialist resurgence is going to steal a big chunk of the Republican base. You know, the “white” working class?