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The Cost of Contention

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The host, at the thought of a SCOTUS vacancy, is almost as giddy as I am when Butler makes the Final Four.  And yes, the President’s nominee will get through, and yes, that nominee will be an Originalist and yes, this will, to paraphrase the host, bring down the social liberal engine of change.  That is very good stuff indeed.  And yet I find myself trepidatious.  The Left is so exercised right now that, even with victory assured, I fear the fight.

Ruth Marcus has called for a “another Bork Moment.”  In responding to Ms. Marcus Charles Cooke said, ” There is much that is ugly about this sentiment — not the least of which is that Robert Bork was treated shamefully, and was hideously slandered to boot….”  The Bork hearings, and the Clarence Thomas hearings for that matter, are dark moments in American history.  Despite their very different outcomes both were – to use Cooke’s word – terribly, hideously ugly.  And I am talking true ugliness here, the kind that gets inside you and rots you a bit.

As I was working up this post, my Saturday morning devotional hit my inbox and it contained this tidbit:

Our promises can’t only be to deliver results. Instead, they must also be to embody a distinctive way of being. In the end, we want more than the pyrrhic victories of great achievements that destroy the very people we are called to lead and the institutions we are trying to build. Who we become as leaders is every bit as important as what we do.

Hence my trepidation.  If what is to come indeed goes the way of the Bork or Thomas hearings there will be a cost regardless of the actual outcome.

As I write these words I have lined up dozens of Biblical passages about how the kind of things that were engaged in in the Bork and Thomas hearings are “perverse,” and about how they tear apart institutions and pollute souls.  But that will, I think, make my point too easy to dismiss.  I said on Thursday past that the current level of liberal hysteria should be viewed as cautionary.  I wrote that just as Justice Kennedy announced his retirement and I think it is even more true now than it was when I wrote it.  Calls for “another Bork Moment” are calls to a place we just should not go.

Simply put, America should be better than that.

It is Sunday.  It is just a few days before we celebrate the birth of this nation.  Our nation was built by people that left somewhere and came here in order to be better than what they came from.  The kind of unfounded allegations and slander that surrounded the Bork and Thomas hearings is not a move towards better.  While we are restoring the courts to Originalism, it would be wonderful to restore our public debate to decency.  There have been several court appointments since Thomas and Bork and all have gone much better.  It appeared we had learned our lesson – if not Ms. Marcus, at least most of us.

This Sunday morning let’s pray that the lesson holds.  Let’s pray for the wisdom of the president and his team as they make their decision.  Let’s pray for the Senate and senators as they prepare to do their work of confirmation, asking God that they be wise and just and above all virtuous.  Let’s pray for the nation  that we can reclaim the pieces of our souls that we lost in the Bork and Thomas hearings.


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