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Reviews |  Oh, Josh & Marsha & Ted & Lindsey… Sorry, Justice Jackson


Although controversial – sometimes silly – the overall process of confirming Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court was relatively efficient, and the nomination was never seriously threatened. The final vote even turned out to be vaguely bipartisan, with three Republicans joining Democrats in support.

But these High Court confirmations are also prime opportunities for members of the Senate Judiciary Committee — especially those with presidential aspirations — to strut their stuff in front of a larger-than-usual audience. When the candidate is mired in scandal or controversy, this dynamic can lead to tense and enlightening exchanges. (Am I right, Justices Kavanaugh and Thomas?) But there was no such grain of wheat with Justice Jackson, so Republicans misrepresented his positions and chattered about controversies unrelated to the Culture War. Classic choices, albeit quite predictable.

Top showboaters this time around included Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, Marsha Blackburn, Josh Hawley and Lindsey Graham – a master of the self-righteous whistle crunch. These people really went the extra mile to turn the proceedings into a circus. So much performative indignation. So little interest in reality.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Cruz was the most embarrassing of the lot. In a convoluted effort to portray Judge Jackson as a radical revival (the silly details of which are just an online search for those interested), the senator pulled out a copy of the “Antiracist Baby” picture book and began to throw out weird and misleading stuff. questions such as “Do you agree with this book that teaches children that babies are racist?” (The book does not teach this.)

Perhaps Mr. Cruz was feeling nostalgic for his first year in the House, when he gave a dramatic Senate reading of another children’s book — Dr. Seuss’ ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ — as part of a a marathon speech protesting the Affordable Care Act. This discourse is often wrongly characterized as a filibuster. But a vote on the bill was already scheduled, meaning nothing Mr. Cruz said, read or yodelled made the slightest difference. He was simply delivering an empty, blustery performance in an effort to convince his party’s voters of his fighting chops.

Cruz and Co. played the same cynical game with Judge Jackson. They knew they didn’t quite have the juice to derail his confirmation. (Two cheers for Mitch McConnell for killing the filibuster for the Supreme Court picks?) They were just strutting around, showing up and channeling Trumpian jerks to light up the base: Consult us! Aren’t we fierce and wicked? !

Fortunately, the clown show failed to disrupt the proceedings. It’s partly a tribute to Judge Jackson’s ability to remain calm in the face of the most irrelevant questions. (What is his definition of a woman? Really?) It also helped that the finger fidgeting and foot stomping was so clearly selfish that even their teammates recognized it. At one point, Ben Sasse felt emotional referring to “the jackassery that we often see here” with people “mugging” for the cameras.

That said, the shamelessness of the performers was impressive. After a testy exchange with the committee’s Democratic chairman, Mr. Cruz backed off and got lost in his Twitter feed. Nearby reporters noted that he seemed to check his mentions to see how he was performing on social media. Here is a guy who takes his constitutional duties seriously.

But for Mr. Cruz, who works under the illusion that he will one day be elected president, it doesn’t matter whether he wins or loses a particular fight or is perpetually ridiculed for being a self-absorbed goofball with confusing facial hair. This is to smooth the base.

Mr. Cruz, to be fair, is not alone in this attitude. Even as Judge Jackson takes her hard-earned victory lap, her Senate antagonists will be congratulating themselves on all the MAGA love they’ve surely earned. Perhaps they yearn for cries like:

Thank you, @tedcruz, for speaking out against the anti-racism scourge of babies. Biggest story since Pizzagate.

Stand tall, @MarshaBlackburn. You are the definition of a REAL WOMAN. #BigHair4Eva

Don’t feel bad, @LindseyGrahamSC. I often confuse Ketanji Brown Jackson with Janice Rogers Brown too. #Unintentional error.

Hey, @SenTomCotton, I heard George Soros was a hairy in the closet. Time for hearings? #AllDemsAreGroomers

And of course :

You are a warrior and a patriot, @tedcruz, but for god’s sake, shave properly.

You get the base point. For those who bawled the loudest against Judge Jackson’s nomination, there are plenty of rewards to be reaped. In today’s MAGAfied GOP, nothing excites more than flamboyant jackassery.



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