July 22, 2010

"The talk in Washington is what the impending elevation of the former Harvard Law School dean and solicitor general will mean for the capstone of the judiciary."

Asserts David Broder, and I have to laugh. 1. There's the inane elevated tone of the writing: "impending elevation," "capstone of the judiciary." You know you're reading bullshit, so, thanks for that. 2. Who can possibly believe the people of Washington are abuzz over the effect Elena Kagan will have on the Supreme Court? 3. Didn't everyone figure out many weeks ago that Kagan, replacing Stevens, is only going to keep things the same?

To his credit, Broder proceeds to posit the theory that is my question #3. He puts it in the mouth of a former attorney general next to whom Broder was seated at a dinner party the other day. Gotta put in the seat-work at those D.C. dinner parties to dig up ideas for WaPo columns, you know. Broder decides this is "probably the conventional wisdom," then begins his next paragraph: "That is what they say, and I have no legal credentials to challenge their conclusion." Yes, but you are some kind of journalist — right? — so you could have asked some more people before you took what that one fellow/lady dribbled out at the dining table as what everyone was saying.
But, as I told my dinner companion...
Oh, lord, the thrill of being transported to this scintillating dinner party, in Washington, with an ancient pundit extracting conventional wisdom from a once-powerful lawyer!
... I suspect that he is wrong and that Kagan's joining Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor on the bench will change the high court in ways that no one foresees.
Quelle riposte! Oh! Would that I could be in such company! The elderly lawyer manages to say something mind-crushingly obvious, and the old pundit, keeping the colloquy going, with no legal knowledge, disagrees.
I say this based on what I saw happen in The Post's newsroom and many others when female reporters and editors arrived, in increasing numbers, starting in the 1970s and '80s. 
Now, our trusty columnist does the hard work of dredging up memories from 30+ years ago. I saw those female reporters in the 70s... humming "I Am Woman" as they changed the world of men for the better... And yet you still have your job, cluttering up the pages of the Washington Post with this self-indulgent nonsense. Why hasn't some brilliant lady ousted you yet? I mean, this column has you recounting a conversation that — if I'd participated in it — I'd have gone home feeling ashamed that I'd been so dull at the dinner-table. Yet you serve it up as leftovers in a Washington Post column. And now you are feeding me this warmed over Women's Liberation stuff that is refuted —  refudiated! — by the fact that you are still here writing this column.
They changed the culture of the newspaper business and altered the way everyone, male or female, did the work.
And this has something to do with Elena Kagan, coming onto the Supreme Court, where there isn't ONE Justice who hasn't shared that bench with a woman. Stevens — have you noticed? — was the last Justice who served on an all-male Supreme Court.
The women who came onto the political beat asked candidates questions that would not have occurred to male reporters. They saw the candidates' lives whole, while we were much more likely to deal only with the official part of it. So the scope of the candidate profiles expanded, and the realm of privacy began to shrink.
They saw the candidates' lives whole...  Broder's elevated diction goes wild.  The realm of privacy began to shrink... Please don't reveal your shrinkage problems, Dave! I don't want to hear about your realm... your domain....

He's dredging up material from the 80s "In a Different Voice" Women's Studies era, and it's borderline insulting. It's Broderline insulting.
They also changed the rules for reporters themselves. When I joined the press corps in the 1960 presidential campaign, I was formally instructed by a senior reporter for the New York Times on the "west of the Potomac rule." What happened between consenting adults west of the Potomac was not to be discussed with bosses, friends and especially family members east of the Potomac.
Look out! The floodgates have opened! Broder's going back to 1960!
It was a protective, chauvinistic culture, and it changed dramatically when more than the occasional female reporter boarded the bus or plane.
Hey, Broder. Remember the 90s? How'd you guys do with the Clinton sexual harassment story? Are you keeping up with the allegations against Al Gore?
I don't know how having three strong-minded female justices serving simultaneously for the first time will change the world of the Supreme Court. But I will not be surprised if this small society does not change for all its members.
That's right. You don't know whether 3 women with 6 modern men will be different from 2 women with 7 modern men, and you haven't gotten up out of your antique comfy chair to do one thing to find out. Yet Broder, at this point, has run out of material on his subject. Go to the link and you'll see that he pads out his column with 200+ more words on other Kagan-related stuff that was casually rattling around in his...  eminent dome... his venerable cranium... his... nugatory noggin.

83 comments:

HDHouse said...

Very well muddled there Ann.

MadisonMan said...

They have to write about something. Imagine being paid to do what Broder does.

TRO said...

The swarmy snark force is strong with you today, Professor.

AllenS said...

I knew it. Blogging for you is a piece of cake.

MadisonMan said...

And it must be so thrilling -- absolutely thrilling -- for the host and hostess of that scintillating dinner party to know that their party was the catalyst for an article in the Washington Post! Oh, if only we knew the China Pattern and the butcher who supplied the meat for the main course.

Henry said...

Wasn't it David Broder whose leg was groped at a Washington dinner party? No, that was another David. David Brooks. Pundits should demand time-and-half for dinner parties. That or hazardous duty.

Or not. Broder's evening out sounds incredibly dull. Washington dinner parties aren't the same since John Riggins stopped running the ball for the Redskins.

William said...

Broder's oeuvre, as Althouse demonstrates, is inspirational for all living women.

traditionalguy said...

I was shocked to read the phrase "Nugatory" noggin. That is rascist talk isn't it. Seriously, I loved that post.

Scott M said...

I don't know how having three strong-minded female justices serving simultaneously for the first time will change the world of the Supreme Court. But I will not be surprised if this small society does not change for all its members

My readings on the history of the court show their individual dealings with each other to be fairly insular in terms of an office workplace. In order to have the effect he's talking about, don't you have to have a banter-filled, locker-room ambiance to begin with?

On that note, I'll wholeheartedly agree. If you work someplace (like a rock radio station) that's a wall to wall sausagefest, there's going to be massive changes when the sans-sausage starts her employment...that goes without saying and operates the exact same way if it's reversed. I've been on both sides of that issue and it really just comes down to the fact that, well, we're different.

Trying to impose those same realities on nine people that, if true, are fairly insular to begin with and sit at the absolute pinnacle of their professions seems to be an exercise in futility. The life-long appointment doesn't just mean that you're above the political process. It also means you don't have to put up with bullshit from your "co-workers".

Jake said...

I know Ann wants to bury this, but...

It is sad that Ann Althouse yesterday was so quick to hold Andrew "William Zanzinger" Breitbart coat while he took aim with his cane against Shirley "Hattie Carrol" Sherrod.


But, Ann reacted to his deed with a shrug of her shoulders
And swear words and sneering and her tongue it was snarling.

But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Take the rag away from your face
Now ain't the time for your tears.

Skyler said...

Brilliantly skewered.

Thank you.

Sixty Grit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dead Julius said...

Season Four of Mad Men starts on Sunday. Obviously all the impending fictional drama from the 1960s has overtaken Broder's thinking and writing.

Broder ought to snap out of it. It's only a TV show. An excellent TV show, but still only a TV show.

--

Gotta put in the seat-work at those D.C. dinner parties to dig up ideas for WaPo columns, you know.

Hey! I hold the patent on the dreaded "Gotta..., you know". But you can have a royalty-free perpetual license, Althouse. Especially now since you've stopped dicking around with the polls.

SMGalbraith said...

Okay, Broder is being Broderesque here but he's been, for me, a great reporter over the years.

If you go back and read his columns on the early days of Reagan or Clinton he was brilliantly prescient in predicting how their presidencies would look. Compared to some of the charlatans we have now, I'd take him any day.

He's old and tired now. But he was young once...

Paul said...

There's something worse than a David Broder column--Daniel Schorr's commentaries on "All Things Considered."

I have to turn these off, not so much for the ossified straight-from-the-60s liberalism, but because the superannuated Schorr sounds like he's phoning in his commentary from a nursing home and will lapse into a fit of phlegm-rattling coughing at any second.

Can't these old fossils let go and give someone else a crack at their job?

Skyler said...

Jake, you are repeating journolist talking points. Breitbart exposed the NAACP. It was b. Hussein who attacked Sherrod. She deserved it though.

Sixty Grit said...

I should have written "I heard from a dinner companion that Broder is a racist". Certainly wouldn't want to impugn a slow talkin' old dude without attribution.

WV: inglyz - press two for inglyz.

Ross said...

Maybe Broder should ask Katha Pollit

K T Cat said...

Broders rite so back off. Girls make things bettur for us stoopid men.

Quayle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
c3 said...

Can't we acknowledge that Mr. Broder is of an earlier time when pundits were viewed differently. Eric Severeid is the archetype of the serious,floridly grammatic opinionator. Mr. Broder has earned his stripes. Cut him some slack.

I'd rather have him that Andrew Sullivan or Maureen Dowd

(and yes I can think of some bloviators on the right)

Paul said...

Scott M said...Trying to impose those same realities on nine people that, if true, are fairly insular to begin with and sit at the absolute pinnacle of their professions seems to be an exercise in futility.

Agree. I worked at an ad agency at which a female creative director came in and changed the climate much as Broder describes having happened in his newsroom. The main reason it changed in my case, though, was that people started worrying about getting fired if the new boss didn't like their perspective. On the Supreme Court, there's no need to kowtow to Kagan.

David said...

Rant of the year (so far)!

Sic em, Althouse.

cf said...

Ann, this is one of your very best. Of course, it's a broad target. Nevertheless.....I started practicing law in the mid-60's. There were only 2 women in my graduating class at the Univ of Wis law school. I doubt that I viewed any case differently than anyone else and if I'd been a reporter I'd have quit rather than doing soft focus feeling pieces about the law and the Supreme Court.

He does remind me of the old farts who used to litter the bar when I started practicing though..you know the type of liberal who asked what did women lawyers do, argue bastardy cases? Honest.Or say they'd normally thank me for my assistance with a legal question by taking me to lunch but as I was a married woman they were concerned about "talk". Honest again.

Henry said...

@Paul -- Good call. I thought of Schorr too. Being on Nixon's enemies list was the high point of his life. Everything reminds him of 1972.

I will say that I used to read David Broder, pre-Internet. His column was picked up by my local paper. He always seemed like moderate, thoughtful guy. I haven't read him in years, but he doesn't seem to have changed much. Maybe that's just another way to say he's still kind of boring.

But I'm inclined towards MadisonMan's reaction: "The have to write about something." Even the best columnists recycle to survive.

c3 said...

Mr. Severeid's farewell. As a kid I loved listening to him though I generally didn't have a clue what he was talking about

AprilApple said...

The word "capstone" gives me a headache.

BJM said...

@MM
Oh, if only we knew the China Pattern and the butcher who supplied the meat for the main course.

Ah...but had a female columnist been present surely she would have asked such insightful "whole lives" questions.

Broder should gracefully bow out to ruminate and write his memoirs before he makes a complete jackass of himself, aka Helen Thomas.

Mick said...

Elitist, egotistical, sniveling drivel. The Ivy league has produced the worst politicians and policy makers to grace the slimy halls of Washington DC, Ever. Including the Usurper (father was Never a US Citizen, and was born subject to the jurisdiction of Britain, thus not Natural Born, i.e Born in the US of 2 US Citizen parents) and his merry band of Marxists that infect the halls today.
Kagan, and Sotomayor will both be unseated when the Usurper is finally brought to justice.

Oxbay said...

Broder writes: "I say this based on what I saw happen in The Post's newsroom and many others when female reporters and editors arrived, in increasing numbers, starting in the 1970s and '80s."

Here it is 30 - 40 years later and the newspaper business is in its death throes.

Dewave said...

Is it just me, or did he misuse a double negative?

But I will not be surprised if this small society does not change for all its members.

So he WON'T be surprised if things DON'T change.

IE he would be surprised if things DO change which is contrary to his entire thesis!

Jum said...

David Broder, phonin' one in on a day when it's too hot and sticky to go outside......

Pogo said...

Brilliant post, Althouse.

Jaysus on roller skates. Why does Broder still have this job?

It's like reading the minutes from Czar Nicholas's court in September 1904, or a missive from Marie Antoinette in 1788.

Lee said...

Awesome post!

Adam said...

Give poor Broder some slack. He's too old to be on Journolist, so he's on his own. This is what most commentators would sound like if they had to come up with their own stuff. There are only so many ways to rewrite your college lecture notes, and Dave's are all yellowed and crumbly.

TosaGuy said...

I commend Broder by at least getting out of the house and socializing (the old fashioned way of coordinating a media message) rather than hanging in his basement on a list serve.

Clyde said...
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Clyde said...

I'm guessing that the main effect on the high court will be the addition of one more stall in the ladies' room.

tom swift said...

What a weirdo.

Strong-minded? Kagan? Sotomayor? Neither seems to emit much of a transformative aura. They were appointed because they're dully reliable votes for whatever the Democratic agenda du jour may be, and that's about it. Ginsburg is another matter. Whether that's a good thing or not is another question.

Quayle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
c3 said...

There's something worse than a David Broder column--Daniel Schorr's commentaries on "All Things Considered."

I second (or would be third) that. When I listen to him I make an internal bet:

will he mention Nixon or Watergate

Now THERE'S a pundit who mails it in every week. I imagine him sitting in front of his computer looking at Google news and making a couple of off hand comments (from the screen) in his "discussion" with Scott Simon.

Big Mike said...

Broder used to be good reading. There was never any question about his slant, but his assessments used to be honest, in contrast to the young thugs of Journolist.

But ever since the Obama administration arrived in town far too many of his columns have been utterly puerile. Most notably his column shortly after the Christmas Bomber (he of the explosive underwear) and DHS secretary Janet Napolitano's subsequent announcement that "the system worked," when Broder wasted several column-inches hailing Napolitano as a star of the Democrat Party and a potential presidential candidate.

(Which identifies at least one potential Democrat candidate that Sarah Palin could handily defeat in an election.)
________________________

Ha, Althouse! I defeat your "nugatory" with my "puerile."

Trooper York said...

This is a bad thing because it violates the rule of three.

You see you can't have three women in the same office because it always ends up two against one.

Women just can't along. Just sayn'

Brian J. Dunn said...

This Broder quote is great: "The women who came onto the political beat asked candidates questions that would not have occurred to male reporters."

But suggest that it doesn't occur to liberal reporters to ask questions that conservatives would ask is to denigrate their professionalism.

edutcher said...

This is a nothing story, but Broder has to make it look exciting or else somebody might figure out the current administration is one big joke.

Not unlike Dr Goebbels telling the world the Wehrmacht won at Stalingrad.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

You see you can't have three women in the same office because it always ends up two against one.


That might depend on the sexual orientation of the women.

Fen said...

Jake: It is sad that Ann Althouse yesterday was so quick to hold Andrew "William Zanzinger" Breitbart coat while he took aim with his cane against Shirley "Hattie Carrol" Sherrod.

Hey Libtard, the problem with cut-n-paste talkng ponts is that when you spam the forums with it, your spelling mistakes give you away.

Hagar said...

Be kind Professor.

Broder and Schieffer have lived to ascend the top of the mountain and view the Promised Land, but alas, they know they are too old to be allowed to enter.

Trooper York said...

You are a dirty girl Dust Bunny Queen.

Me likee.

Bill Peschel said...

"What happened between consenting adults west of the Potomac was not to be discussed with bosses, friends and especially family members east of the Potomac."

And with Kennedy in the White House after 1960, what happened east of the Potomac couldn't be discussed either.

Trooper York said...

When I was doing small business accounting the client I hated the most was the hair salons.

Man those were like snakepits.

Fen said...

Is Broder a member of the Journolist cabal? Or whatever they're calling the new incarnation?

And does WaPo know?

LarsPorsena said...

David Broder... the Larry King of print.

Trooper York said...

Can’t you just see Sotomayor showing up with a big pan of cucifritos and fried plantains and Ginsberg and Kagan during up their noses at it.

“Sorry dear, but I am on a diet.” “Oh I don’t think so honey, I don’t do fried foods.” Then Ginsberg whispers from behind her hand and they giggle.

Then Clarence and Antonin and Sammy come in and chow down and complement her.

“Wow Sonia this is great. Thank you for bringing it in.” “Fuggedaboutit! I love plantains. It tastes like what I used to get when I worked in the Eastern District.” “This is really great Sonia. Anytime you bring this in I will bring in some of my home made wine. We can have a feast.”

Before you know it……a new solid conservative vote.

Women just can’t get along.

Jim Howard said...

Professor, you're (mostly) among friends here.

There is no need to sugar coat things, tell us what you really think about Mr Broder's column!

Amy said...

I don't really understand everything in this post, but I just HAVE to say that I LOVE the tone of the writing. Absolutely delicious to read.

sean said...

I know Prof. Althouse doesn't think much of difference feminism, but the fact is, difference feminism has won the cultural battle, and is the worldview of everyone under 50. Prof. Althouse and I are dinosaurs, and no one believes the "equality" or "liberal" feminism we absorbed back in the day. When we die, our beliefs will die.

TML said...

Oh, that was MR-bacon-burger good stuff.

Scott M said...

Althouse and I are dinosaurs, and no one believes the "equality" or "liberal" feminism we absorbed back in the day.

Probably because equality feminism has a whole slew of problems. Starting with the abject inequality of Selective Service, running through the use of womyn, and finishing somewhere in the vicinity of making housewives feel ashamed of themselves.

Iapetus said...

Here's the germ of an idea for a future Broder column:

Proposition: That the late Mr. Ginsburg would have been a much better choice for the High Court than Mrs. Ginsburg.

Now go run with it, Dave. No need to thank me.

Big Mike said...

@Trooper, thanks for reminding us. Didn't Mohammed make the same point about three wives, insisting that four was the optimal number? Can somebody help me out here? Is this true, or merely apocryphal?

Henry said...

I think he said that four was the maximum number. Maybe five is the number to avoid.

Jay Vogt said...

Can't argue with a word of that Ann.

Sadly though, David Broder is one of the saner voices writing for the legacy op-ed platforms.

AJ Lynch said...

Lars:

I was thinking along the same lines re Larry King and Broder.

Those two fossils,with a few others, should make a movie or documentary. They could call it "Why We Suck".

Old Dad said...

Now if she looked like Angelina Jolie she could probably shag, escuse me, snag a conservative vote or three.

c3 said...

asked candidates questions that would not have occurred to male reporters

Like "What are you wearing?"

Cedarford said...

Great snark by Althouse.

Every 5 or so years, journalists get rhapsodic about the transformative nature of a Minority!! Empowered!! in some area. To shorten the publication cycle, they can switch between Transformative Minorities - or always look out and find the 1st Negro doing X, the 1st Wise Latina doing Y, the 1st Great Asian Gay involved in Z.

And they can always add to the ranks of empowered transformative minority change agents. Great illegal aliens and Noble pure Muslims who give us "strength through diversity!!" are fairly popular these days.

In journalism, while we have some very solid female reporters and bloggers - Broder is wise not to tie the rise of "whole picture" female reporters to the rise of Court TV, the decline of print journalism that coincidentally started about the time females were beginning to pound keyboards enmass. As well as improve and transform the legal profession to enhance America's competiveness and standing in the world.

Traditional journalism was likely far more impacted by the male dicovery of video games and online porn as by noting on line news was available. The Legal profession compromised more by substitution of endless process TalmudicLaw over "swift and sure"...and by discovery that power and money thirsty lawyers could bypass democratic systems and get direct access to the money and clout they wanted inside the Belt Way than by money and power thirsty females saddling up to the feeding troughs..

I remember how Women in Combat was touted 10 years ago as another capstone....and something that was supposed to terribly intimidate our "Evildoer foes who hijacked the Religion of Peace" right after 9/11. Somehow, journalists dined on the idea that a female F-18 pilot safe at 50,000 feet could push a button and drop bombs on stone age Muslims was supposed to shame and embarass them into surrender or something. And this proved the validity of "invincible female warriors" and showed they belonged in SEAL units and Marine patrols in Fallujah next - even as journalists said of course the Draft should not be expanded to include Women because it is all about Choice for Women.

Of course the Evildoers soon realized it was best to keep their females breeding new baby jihadis instead of fighting, and keep them close. All so a high-IQ "female hero pilot", childless herself given her career....could not push a button in the skies overhead without killing the Evildoer's 3 women and his 18 innocent brown babies who wish to become their mujahadeen Dad or at least stay in the house and tend to his needs and then get married and plop out 8-12 new holy warriors and women of the future.

=================
Meanwhile, Broders vision takes shape in two directions . Dana Priest does a great expose of the massive, to bid to know anything, out of control "counter terrorism bureacracy" the Bushies created. While out in LA, 18 trucks loaded with female reporters stand outside a courthouse, 12 helos in the air - all serving an eager to know female audience the latest Lindsay Lohan news, show any helo shots of her, or her sheriff's car. In a "whole picture" way, we learn that Lindsay cannot wear false fingernails but IS allowed fingernail polish. Her 1st meal in jail will be Turkey Tetrazinni. And she may or may not cut her long hair.

chuckR said...

So, Althouse. When you enter the law school building in the morning, do you have an impending elevation? Or do you take the stairs?

Sofa King said...

"Is it just me, or did he misuse a double negative?"

Ha! Orwell is not unamused.

SukieTawdry said...

I say this based on what I saw happen in The Post's newsroom and many others when female reporters and editors arrived, in increasing numbers, starting in the 1970s and '80s.

Right, lets blame the deterioration of the newspaper business on us females. Oh wait, that's not what he meant, is it. Well, never mind then.

I'd rather drive a steel spike through my skull than attend a Washington dinner party. Seriously.

AJ Lynch said...

Hopefully, someday Spencer Ackerman will go postal at one of these Beltway dinner parties.

Paul said...

Tell us how you really feel about this, Ann.

rcocean said...

Althouse, great post. Broder has always been a joke with his uber-conventional wisdom and his 1965 mindset.

Please could all you ol' geezers - Larry King, Bob Scheiffer, Daniel Schoor, and Nina Totenberg, just retire all ready? Give someone under 65 a chance.

And talking about ol' farts. I saw Eric Sevareid as a kid = in the 70s - and thought he was boring, pompous, old fart. Later, I read more about him - including his books - and realized he was shallow, left-wing, pompous old fart.

Sometimes kids know things.

dave72 said...

Hilarious, Ann. Funniest skewering of this pompous A$$ ever. Only concern: why do you still read his dreck? I quit years ago...

Big Mike said...

Please could all you ol' geezers - Larry King, Bob Scheiffer, Daniel Schoor, and Nina Totenberg, just retire all ready? Give someone under 65 a chance.

Like Ezra Klein or David ("you can make me cover conservatives but you can't make me like them") Weigel?

Also, from a Baby Boomer to you young punk kids. It wouldn't be hard to displace me; all you have to do is convince my management chain that you're better than I am. But you aren't so forget it.

Lem said...

I love it.. specially after you used the word refudiated!

rhhardin said...

Modern take: it means another moron on the court.

M. Report said...

Mohammed said that, though the Koran
allows four, it is impossible for a
man to deal justly with more than one.

M. Report said...

The talk should revolve around the
question of whether SCOTUS will make
itself irrelevant by a ruling on HCR
which includes recognition that the
power to tax can be used to enforce
_any_ law passed by Congress.

AST said...

They're making her Pope?!

I sure hope he didn't mean it in the "Young Frankenstein" way.

Milwaukee said...

Dust Bunny: They were women before they had sexual orientations. The point of clubs is to exclude, and that particularly means mean girls clubs. Interesting, even if there are orientation issues, somehow things will shake out into a two-on-one. Unless a man is involved, then it will be three-on-one. Once the man is beaten down, then it's two-on-two. Think the three liberal women will drive the one liberal man nuts?

We really need a conservative president.

zefal said...

Carnac holds the envelope to his forehead and says: "David Broder, Haynes Johnson and Mary McGrory."

Carnac opens envelope and reads: "Name two living zombies and one dead one."

HEY-O!!!!

Glen Stewart said...

um, MICK... you only need ONE US citizen parent to automatically be born a US citizen