Where’s the Hatchet? The Washington Post’s final attempt to derail Kavanaugh

Friday, October 5: As Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination fight nears its final hour, the Washington Post made one last attempt to derail his confirmation by digging into Kavanaugh’s past. I expected the front-page story entitled “The rise and reckoning: Inside nominee’s circles of influence,” to bring out last minute hatchets finely honed in order to decapitate the candidate. What a let down!

The Post must have assigned their top investigative reporters. I can imagine them spending overtime hours on the phone with every last person to ever cross paths with Kavanaugh from high school to the present. They state their conclusion upfront: Kavanaugh had a circle of “friends, loyal and true . . . [who] made it their business to buff and defend Kavanaugh’s reputation.”

Okay, I thought. Let’s hear examples of how his reputation needed buffing and needed to be defended. The juicy details must follow. But they don’t. There are no juicy details. Oh, one high school student who was teased says, “Brett was a jerk.” Wow! That disqualifies him right there. Is there more? Well, there’s a female Yale student who says he was a sloppy drunk. But did he try to ‘get into her pants?’ Apparently not, because the story moves on with zero reference to such behavior on Brett’s part.

There are references to things boys do as they become men: “a bar fight, groping attempts to get somewhere with women, perhaps worse.” But is anyone quoted saying that Brett did those things? Apparently not with the kind of conviction that the Post needed. The best the reporters can do is attack Brett’s “community”––people who attend prep schools and colleges like Yale. In other words, children of those who achieved some measure of success in American society, as if that should be sufficient evidence that he’s not qualified to serve on the court.

That in the final analysis is why the media and the Democrat Party hate Brett Kavanaugh. He is on the wrong side of the divide they have created and militates against their narrative that America is the land of the unjust. If America has been constructed on a foundation of racism, sexism, and the rest of the Left’s complaints, then anyone who is near the top economically and socially needs to be knocked off their pedestal.

Kavanaugh, not surprisingly, believes in the foundational values embodied in the U.S. Constitution. The Post and the Democrats do not. It’s as simple as that. The Post could find no hatchets to throw at Kavanaugh other than he came from a family that made it, and that expected a great deal of their son. He excelled––graduating first in his class in high school, as a Yale undergraduate and at Yale Law School. For shame. He has to be stopped.

On behalf of those who are not currently in the upper echelons of our society who would like to attain those heights, let’s hope Kavanaugh is confirmed because the kind of society he’d like to preserve is one where you’ll have a chance on your own merits to become the best you can be. You do not have to reside at the bottom accepting charity in return for your loyalty to the Democrat Party.

Brett Kavanaugh is not a perfect human being. There is no such thing. Did he go through normal growing up experiences? Yes. Did he ever go too far? Probably. Who can say they never did! Do you want to appear before a judge who has never made mistakes, who has no experience with pushing the limits? I’d hate to be the defendant before a judge who pretends to be perfect and denies he (or she) ever did something they wished they hadn’t done.

So the attempted hatchet job reveals more about the Post than it did about Brett Kavanaugh. It shows us their bias against people who send their kids to prep schools, who hold conservative views, and who have friends who they support and who support them.

Time to move on to the rest of the paper. Or maybe I’ll just skip the stories and go right to the crossword puzzle. That can’t be imbued with political ideology, or can it?

How Liberalism Divides America: A Review of Shelby Steele’s Shame

Shelby Steele, Shame, How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country, Basic Books, 2015

Don’t be misled by this small book’s subtitle, or even the title for that matter. Neither reflects Shelby Steele’s thesis that post 1960s Liberalism is built on a house of lies that has relegated many blacks and other minorities to positions “of inferiors and dependents.” (179)

Shame reveals among other things why eight years after the election of the first African-American president, issues around race still divide our country. Steele also explains why Liberalism seems to be more about absolving whites and government from America’s past than helping minorities overcome that past and why conservative commentators are not taken at face value.

To understand Steele’s thesis one needs to start with slavery because slavery was not just an evil in and of itself, it was a black mark against the foundational principle of American exceptionalism––the core principle embodied in the Declaration and the Constitution that freedom of the individual is the ideal foundation of a just society. Although some did oppose slavery from the start, it took half a century before it was abolished. Unfortunately, slavery was replaced by another pernicious social institution––Jim Crow, which was based on theories of African-American inferiority. Segregation and its rational survived until the 1960s when the struggle for equality became the central issue of the day and the necessity of extending the promise of freedom to all brought about a massive social upheaval.

Shelby Steele’s contribution to what happened next reflects his experience growing up in an era where America sought to show the world it had broken with its past by instituting a variety of programs designed to remedy that past, including the War on Poverty, affirmative action, racial preferences in hiring, lowered welfare standards, et al. The short-term impact of these programs was to give blacks an opportunity to join the mainstream of American society, but there was an unintended longer-term consequence that both handcuffed blacks and gave rise to the distorted political culture we call Liberalism.

Steele illustrates how blacks have been hampered by these post-Civil Rights policies by citing the case of Clarence Thomas who found getting into Yale Law School undermined people’s willingness to give him credit for his accomplishments. People assumed Thomas only got into Yale because he was black and that his high grades at Yale were not deserved. This “catch 22” still hampers blacks today. One wonders if Barack Obama feared he was only elected president because of his race, and not his qualifications or platform? Does that explain the aloof manner by which he conducted himself as president?

The flip side of the post 1960s liberal equation is that many whites feel they must continually prove they are not racists by asserting that America is a racist society despite the fact blacks today are “far more likely to receive racial preferences than to suffer racial discrimination.” (17)

The 1960s gave rise to the notion that America was inherently evil as evidenced by its treatment of women, blacks and other minorities, by its disregard for the environment and by its willingness to interfere in third world liberation struggles––the war in Vietnam being the primary example. The remedy was affirmative action on all those issues and in the process discrediting of the notion that a commitment to the freedom of the individual was sufficient. In Steele’s terms, America embarked on a new mission “to establish ‘The Good’ . . . on par with freedom.” The Good requires equal results be guaranteed not just equal opportunity. The purpose of The Good, he writes, “became absolution for the American people and the government, and not actual reform for minorities.” (128)

The Good was a relativistic solution––a commitment to results over process and it required people to dissociate themselves from America’s past. Liberal public policies and programs were promoted as evidence of rejection of America’s evil past and refusal to endorse such programs was seen as lingering affiliation with that past. Belief in America as a city on a hill, as a beacon of freedom for the oppressed peoples of the world, as an exceptional nation was rejected. “American exceptionalism and white supremacy [became] virtually interchangeable.” (164)

Liberalism underscored its commitment to The Good attacking traditional American culture and invading the political arena. To post 1960 liberals the drive for political power was seen as “nothing less than a moral and cultural imperative.” (156)

In order to maintain their political and cultural dominance, liberals have become committed to what Steele calls the ‘poetic truth’ of American society, a false vision that is necessary to support their ideological position. The chickens of that falsity, embodied in academia, big government and groups such as black lives matter, came home to roost in November, 2016 when sixty plus million people rejected the liberal candidate.

Criticism of liberal programs by whites can be dismissed as evidence of a person’s association with pre-1960s America, but it’s harder to make that label stick when the critics are black. Labeling people like Clarence Thomas, Michelle Malkin, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Dr. Ben Carson, and Shelby Steele ‘uncle toms’ only demonstrates how unglued liberals become when confronted with facts that fly in the face of their make believe world.

Sadly books like Shame rarely get the visibility they deserve. I found no reviews in the New York Times or the Washington Post, despite the fact that Steele is a senior fellow with the Hoover Institution and author of the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning book The Content of Our Character (1990).
Shame has only 49 reviews on Amazon and a 4.3 rating while Ta-Hehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me has 3,157 reviews and a 4.6 rating. Coates has received numerous awards for his writing, including a MacArthur “genius grant,” but Coates’ thesis that racism survives because whites are attached to the benefits of being white is a perfect example of what Steele unclothes––a false narrative that is accepted because it re-inforces the story that America is as tainted today as it was in the time of slavery. Coates views “whiteness” as inevitable and permanent but fails to recognize that the price of conflating slavery and segregation, discrimination and unintended bias is that blacks will never be free! That’s where Steele parts company with Coates.

Steele gives us a window into his evolution from a sixties radical to a twenty-first century conservative. The turning point came in 1970 when he and his wife spent several weeks in Africa where he discovered that the revolution the Black Panthers and others were championing was a false and bankrupt dream. His experience reminds me of the degeneration of the civil rights movement in Albany, New York around the same time. I had been involved in the optimistic years before King’s assassination, which understandably caused many to become bitter and the rhetoric of revolution to gain currency. When the Black Panthers came to Albany, however, they sent a heroin dealer as their representative. Apparently at that point anyone willing to spout their revolutionary rhetoric was acceptable.

While post 1960s liberalism has been losing currency at the polls, it still dominates our culture, the entertainment industry, and the news media. Conservatives who reject the relativism of Liberalism, who stand behind the founders’ original insights, have an opportunity to turn the tide. Steele urges conservatives to be sensitive to the “psychological and cultural damage done to minorities by American hypocrisy,” by showing how the original dream of equality for all and a commitment to freedom, is still America’s essential truth. The time to win that war is now.