CSotD: Fools, knaves or both?

Drew Sheneman shows the broken promise upon which the Republican members of the Senate Judicial Committee based their approach to the confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

It raises the classic question noted in Goldoni’s 1743 commedia, “The Servant of Two Masters”:

Pantalone:. What are we to make of this fellow? Is he a knave or a fool?
Dr Lomardi: I really don’t know. Probably a little of both.


Gary Huck has no doubt but that their badgering, their whining, their interrupting and their general lack of gravitas and good manners were an intentional outreach to their racist supporters, and there’s plenty of evidence to back up his analysis, though I’m not sure it’s the kind of dog whistle that humans cannot hear.

Which may be a good thing. People are fond of quoting Maya Angelou, who said  “When people show you who they are, believe them.”

Let’s hope they do.

Gallup notes that support for Brown Jackson’s confirmation is the second strongest for a SCOTUS nominee recorded among the public in the past 30 years, and this poll was taken before the clowns unleashed their vicious attacks on her.

We can hope that their bullying, posturing and clear hostility solidified support for her and generated some repulsion for them, though it should be borne in mind that the dog whistle also summons pigs, and that the blatant, offensive foolishness of a Marjorie Taylor Greene, though appalling to decent folks, has not prevented her from being a top fundraiser for the Republicans.

Similarly, as jaw-dropping as the harassment of Judge Brown Jackson was, it would be dangerous to the safety of the republic to believe it will not be welcomed by a core of voters who, after all, put these clowns into office in the first place.


I hadn’t expected the GOP committee members to be so obvious in their grandstanding and insults, but what really surprised me was the grace and patience with which she endured their sound and fury.

Gary Markstein (Creators) depicts her saying what I would have said in her place, which is why neither Markstein nor I are in her place.

I’m reminded of when Jackie Robinson was selected to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball, because he wasn’t picked at random. Branch Rickey, manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, had conferred with Black sportswriters to choose someone who combined unquestionable talent with the necessary patience to deal with the inevitable racial attacks.

That was 75 years ago, and we still require Black applicants to walk that line between Tomming and losing their cool.

Others have pointed out how Brett Kavanaugh pouted and railed and burst into tears at his hearings and was confirmed anyway, but Brown Jackson didn’t have that option, lest she feed the jackals.


It’s an old story, but one which explains Cory Booker’s explosion of exuberant pride over how Brown Jackson fulfilled the role of pioneer, in a country where it is shameful that we still have pioneers.

Let’s hope the good people of this nation remember in November, and that they outnumber the pigs.

If not, perhaps we get what we deserve, but, like Booker, I like to think of this moment as emblematic of a country that still holds promise.


John Branch (KFS) repeats Ted Cruz’s insulting, off-topic, absurd race-baiting question, to which, once more, it’s good I wasn’t sitting in Brown Jackson’s chair, because my answer would have been, “No, Senator, but I believe racists are babies.”

Which I do, because it’s a subset of “bullies are cowards.”

That doesn’t mean that all bullies are bad with their fists, though a good right to the face will often change blustering into blubbering.

Again, however, that’s a poor tactic, no matter how tempting, because that type of coward surrounds himself with those like him. The only real way to break up their powerful cabal is through the ballot box.

Nor should we hope for a repeat of the “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” moment that broke the back of Joe McCarthy’s Red Scare, because that was 1954, just two years after young Rupert Murdoch took over editorship of a small newspaper in Australia.

There was, therefore, no national network spinning dishonest vitriol and offering “alternative facts” that would justify continuing the cruel, paranoid witch hunts.

Which brings up the interesting, if irrelevant, question of whether these clowns are cruel or insane or simply stupid?

Irrelevant because, as Dr. Johnson noted,

If a madman were to come into this room with a stick in his hand, no doubt we should pity the state of his mind; but our primary consideration would be to take care of ourselves. We should knock him down first, and pity him afterwards.

So when someone sponsoring a bill to require teaching both sides of issues like the Holocaust has no idea how many people died in the Holocaust or why they were singled out, there is a need to publicize her ignorance, not in order to draw away her supporters so much as to energize decent, intelligent people.

Trying to convince fools is, itself, foolish.

Not only do we have people who believe JFK Jr is alive and that Tom Hanks eats babies, but there is a much larger contingent who truly believe that a million Americans died from a disease that isn’t serious and isn’t spread by droplets.

And they vote.

They vote for people like Ted Cruz, who doesn’t know the difference between “transvestite” and “transgender,” assumes sexual attraction is a deliberate choice, and doesn’t have the sense to cloak his ignorance in silence.

And they vote for Senators like Marcia Blackburn (R-TN) who can’t tell the Constitution from the Declaration of Independence and who thinks that a document with 27 amendments cannot be changed.

To which I would note that New Hampshire’s Republican-led legislature recently passed a law requiring students, in order to graduate from high school, to pass the full range of 128 questions of which new citizens have to answer 10.

I wonder if the National Republican Party would like to add that requirement for their candidates?

Sure would cut down on the number of primaries.