A system that rewards vacuity

I almost never read E.J. Dionne, because he’s not an independent thinking being but a limb or organ, or perhaps an organelle, of the Democratic Party. But I clicked on his column about Elena Kagan last week and it had a funny line:

Much as I would like [the debate between liberals and conservatives over judicial philosophy] to happen, why should Kagan abandon a successful confirmation script, even one she herself cheekily noted 15 years ago “takes on an air of vacuity and farce”? Given the incentives of the system, vacuity in pursuit of confirmation is no vice.

By coincidence, earlier in the day I had been thinking about how Clarence Thomas in his Senate confirmation hearings in the summer of 1991 had felt compelled to portray himself as a brainless incurious individual who, in his 20 years as a conservative, had never once expressed an opinion about Roe v. Wade. Perhaps Thomas’s affected intellectual vacuity was no vice. but it didn’t exactly raise his stature in my eyes either. Of course, this was before Anita Hill appeared on the scene, and the vacuous farce turned, on the Democrats’ and feminists’ side, into an evil attempt to destroy a man before the eyes of the world, and, on Thomas’s side, into high tragedy.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 19, 2010 09:32 AM | Send

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