Ketanji Brown Jackson can look forward to better days.
Her arch-inquisitors last week visited April Fool’s Day(s) early as they mercilessly persecuted and prosecuted the Supreme Court nominee. They reminded one more vicious time that politics today are a race to the bottom – who can “win” in the weeds.
The object is not to debate to a higher ground, to a consensus of sensibility. The object is to vilify and discredit not simply an idea but a person, to bludgeon anyone not believing as I do as “wrong,” dangerous, even anti-American. Bullying and inane games of “gotcha” are the blood sport of politics today. Demonstrating that all politics can be personal, 45 pried the lid off that can of nasty -- and there’s no turning back.
Nominee Brown Jackson, in her opening remarks, praised her mentor Justice Stephen Breyer for his “skill, integrity, civility and grace.” Over the next 48 hours, she witnessed none of that among Senate Judiciary Committee GOP members “vetting” her nomination. She was accused, assaulted, race-baited, disrespected and tormented. It was an embarrassing moment for the republic, led by three obfuscators incapable of embarrassing themselves. Sens. Hawley, Graham and Cruz did their best to set dumpster fires during the hearing. They attacked without shame, confident in their superiority of law intellect and access to some moral high ground.
This was their theater, their show time. This was not about showing any deference to a uniquely accomplished person “judged” qualified to join the highest court of the land. (I wonder how this may have played out had Joe Biden not committed during his candidacy to naming a black woman to the Court, that he had simply done so at this moment from among a small diverse pool of candidates.)
The Trio of Doom accused the nominee of a judicial record light on sentencing of child pornographers, asked her to defend her non-view that babies are racist, charged her with fomenting Critical Race Theory while having no record of doing so. They stopped just short of accusing her of being seen on or near the grassy knoll in Dallas in November 1963. (Never mind the inconvenient truth that she is 51 years old.)
“Cancun” Cruz, Insurrectionist-in-Chief Hawley, and Windsay Graham each grabbed a shiny piece of tinsel and ran it down a rabbit hole. There was no critical thinking to their questions and method; there was just critical. These Defenders of the Constitution made a mockery of civility. In the end, they had blood on their hands. But they took no prisoner.
In the end, the nominee stood strong on grace, if bowed, her personal and professional integrity and decency intact. Sen. Cory Booker said as much, so eloquently. No amount of advance coaching and simulation could have prepared her for what she endured, including being quizzed to define a “woman.” Justice will come for the Justice-to-be. If only for one shining moment she could have had a Will Smith moment and slapped her three pompous detractors. To have delivered some theater of her own to the sorry cast of performers.