December 19, 2012

Robert Bork has died.

He was 85.

From the above-linked NYT obituary:
Judge Bork, a bear of a man with a scraggly red beard and untamed frizz on a balding pate who liked to eat, drink and smoke for much of his adult life, handled himself poorly in front of the [Senate Judiciary] committee and failed to give doubters confidence. As Tom Shales, the television critic for The Washington Post, wrote of his testimony: “He looked, and talked, like a man who would throw the book at you — maybe like a man who would throw the book at the whole country.”
See that's what I was just talking about: Liberals used to express abhorrence of law-and-order types.

The NYT obit refers to "the notion that the nominee was somehow unfeeling as a judge." Somehow... a notion... Where, oh, where could it come from?!
This [notion] was amplified when, asked by a sympathetic senator, Alan Simpson, Republican of Wyoming, why he wanted to serve on the Supreme Court, Judge Bork replied that it would be “an intellectual feast.”
And that was it, the worst answer ever given to any question in the history of the United States. Intellectual feast! The feast turned out to be a feeding frenzy for the liberal media. Why, they're still picking kinky reddish beard hairs out of their back molars! Burrrrp! Tasty! What a time! And no Supreme Court nominee has said one interesting thing since. Every single one has promised to be a good little judge who would never ever do anything but serve humbly and modestly deciding the cases according to the law.

You think it was interesting that John Roberts said he saw himself as an umpire, calling balls and strikes? That proves my point! I know, Clarence Thomas, "high-tech lynching," but that wasn't about doing the judicial work, so I'm excluding that from the point, which is that they all learned what not to do from Bork. Presidents learned to avoid even picking someone Borkish, so no one was allowed to look weird, speak quirkly, seem like an intellectual with ideas of his own, it would just be bland blandness served atop a steaming pile of blandness. That is: Not tasty! As a live-blogger of nomination hearings, I want to know: Where's my intellectual feast?

ADDED: When C-SPAN put its entire archive up on-line, the first thing I looked up to relive was the Bork hearings:



And here's Teddy Kennedy's infamous and nutty denunciation of "Robert Bork's America":

71 comments:

Michael K said...

The LA Times adds one small additional calumny in the headline they use to lead the story. "Failed supreme court nominee."

Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment.

Mitchell the Bat said...

It's safe to say that Alan Simpson won't be able to rehabilitate Bork on this one, either.

Portia said...

I really liked the guy.

That's where the term 'borked' came from...not from him but what happened to him.

MadisonMan said...

Getting turned down by the Senate was a goldmine for him. That's how you make lemonade.

ndspinelli said...

This would have been another Obama appointment. "Always look on the bright side of life." Monty Python

traditionalguy said...

He will be forever remembered by the phrase "to be Borked."

He should have shaved his beard and acted all humble like a certain Wise Latino Woman did.

Bork was a traditionalist who was not wise enough to play hard ball. But I admire what he did accomplish.

SteveR said...

6 Republican Senators (John Chafee (R-RI), Bob Packwood (R-OR), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Robert Stafford (R-VT), John Warner (R-VA), and Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. (R-CT)) all voting against him.

An all star line up of RINOs

AprilApple said...

He out-lived Teddy Kennedy, that fat bloated miserable failure who committed vehicular homicide.

bagoh20 said...

Lucky bastard. Got out just in time.

EDH said...

Bork never looked particularly healthy to me.

He always reminded me of King Tut on "Batman", played by Victor Buono, who died at the surprisingly young age of 44 in 1982 -- putting him around 30 when he played Tut.

virgil xenophon said...

Republicans don't know how to fight for their own, let alone defeat the opposition. ANYONE here want to lay odds that John Kerry will get the sort of grilling during his SECDEF Senate confirmation hearings that Robert Bork got? I'll take all the money you want to ante up..

It's not for nothing that the GOP is called the Stupid Party..

Marshal said...

The American Bar Association’s committee on judicial nominees also split with four of the 15 members calling him “not qualified,” because of concerns over his “compassion, open-mindedness, his sensitivity to the rights of women and minority persons or groups.

A pretty clear admission the ABA enforces a liberal political agenda rather than legal expertise.

SteveR said...

This would have been another Obama appointment. "Always look on the bright side of life." Monty Python

First thought I had

jimspice said...

The Swedish Chef laments: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbs64GvGgPU

Almost Ali said...

He saw it coming:

Bork foretold the future in his book "Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline"

dreams said...

I thought of Bork this morning and couldn't remember if he had already died so I check Wikipedia to see. About an hour later I read he died this morning. The liberal media continues to bork conservatives as they did him.

MadisonMan said...

Bork never looked particularly healthy to me.

And yet he lived to be 85.

Your healthy-detector needs to be recalibrated.

leslyn said...

That proves my point!

...what is your point?

That liberals don't like scraggly beards?

That liberals don't like feasts?

That liberals prefer baseball to gluttony?

That all of the above is why Bork didn't make it to the Supreme Court?

leslyn said...

so no one was allow to look weird, speak quirkly, seem like an intellectual with ideas of his own, it would just be bland blandness....

I suppose when you only compare one person, Roberts, to Bork, you could come up with this conclusion.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

The short soundbite about Bork on NPR's news rundown this morning: "He advocated the controversial view that the Constitution does not guarantee a right to privacy".

Patrick said...

Not a single thing Ted Kennedy said in that miserable little speech was true. But red meat for his base, so the lies don't count!

Jay said...

Hopefully Ted Kennedy is burning in hell.

tiger said...

traditionalguy said...
He will be forever remembered by the phrase "to be Borked."

He should have shaved his beard and acted all humble like a certain Wise Latino Woman did.

Bork was a traditionalist who was not wise enough to play hard ball.


So much this.

Brilliant guy who thought that being smart and honest was enough for the Senate.

It wasn't and fark Joe Biden for his bullshiate grandstanding during the hearings.

SteveR said...

leslyn strikes out from the on deck circle.

ricpic said...

A giant brought down by pigmies.

edutcher said...

Considering what a pack of dullards Teddy Kennedy, Patrick "Achille Lauro" Leahy, Howard "the Banker" Metzenbaum, and our esteemed Vice President were and are, I'm sure Bork took it as a badge of honor to be opposed by such a pack of slugs.

Tank said...

SteveR beat me to it.

I was going to say, "A swing and a miss."

Yiii.

Missing the point 101.

MadisonMan said...

One thing I do like about Bork's nomination: He was not a youngster. He 'only' would have been on the Supreme Court for about 20 years.

This process lately of nominating youngsters to serve for decade upon decade really is something that should stop, IMO. Clarence Thomas was 43. Sotomayor, 55. Kagan, 49. Alito, 56. Roberts, 50.

Ann Althouse said...

Leslyn quotes me, partially, saying "That proves my point!" then says "what is your point?" blah blah...

Why did you truncate my quote, which goes:

"That proves my point! I know, Clarence Thomas, "high-tech lynching," but that wasn't about doing the judicial work, so I'm excluding that from the point, which is that they all learned what not to do from Bork."

Was "the point, which is" too hard to find?

My point is: You're either a bad reader or dishonest or you think you're being funny or because you disagree with what you think are my politics, you think it's fine to use anything against me any way you want.

Which is it?

chrisnavin.com said...

They're still Borking him

Ambrose said...

Since the left is always enamored with dead conservatives, we can expect a re-assessment. It will come in the following form re some future conservative judge- "Judge X is awful, now Judge Bork was also conservative, but unlike Judge X, at least Judge Bork [add nioe compliment here]."

Bob Ellison said...

That beard. Really.

Good man, though.

Bob Ellison said...

My point is: You're either a bad reader or dishonest or you think you're being funny or because you disagree with what you think are my politics, you think it's fine to use anything against me any way you want.

It was not your most cogent writing, Professor. But you're right that leslyn seems to have swum around in the comment pool a bit too long.

That's not cogent, either. I hope it's pointy!

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Robert Bork has died. RIP, patriot, and thanks for all you did!

Ted Kennedy has been dead for awhile now. Ya-Hoo! Yip yip Hurrah! Excellent! Rot in Hell, etc.

prairie wind said...

Handled himself poorly? Does anyone else remember Teddy Kennedy during those hearings? I remember Bork answering clearly and Kennedy's befuddlement.

BarryD said...

Ted Kennedy denounced Bork.

But the enemy of my enemy isn't necessarily my friend, either.

Richard Dolan said...

Bork's nomination crystallized the changes in how the politicos and the public viewed the S Ct, a process that really took off after Brown v. Bd of Ed. It's not that the S Ct hadn't been viewed as a political actor before (CJ Taney had certainly been viewed that way, e.g.). But beginning with Brown, and then continuing through the Warren Court's judicial revolution on other fronts, the players started to see the Court in more frankly partisan terms, as a political institution that had to be controlled by one's own partisans. The public wasn't far behind. What has changed a bit is the grounds

When Nixon wanted to change the direction of the Court, the heavily Dem Senate rejected his first two nominees (Haynsworth and Carswell) mostly as "unqualified" -- to the point where Sen. Hruska famously defended Carswell on the ground that mediocrity deserved to be represented on the Court too. The Dem senators chose the more high-minded grounds to vote against him, even though behind the scenes, Carswell in particular was strongly opposed by civil rights and feminist groups.

By the time Bork came along, there was no longer any need to hide the political ball -- the opposition was entirely ideological, and in waging the fight, no one was much troubled by distorting Bork's views beyond recognition. So it's been ever since. Once the institution was seen as essentially a political actor in the cases that mattered, it could hardly have turned out otherwise.

Richard Dolan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dbp said...

It all turned out well enough: I don't think Bork would have been confirmed no-matter his demeanor, so it is good that he didn't act like a pussy in the Senate. Also, as has been pointed-out; if the bad Kennedy hadn't blocked Bork, the (pretty good) Kennedy wouldn't be on the Supreme Court and Obama would be replacing Bork right now.

Craig said...

http://www.google.com.ph/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=burke%20verb&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CDYQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.answers.com%2Ftopic%2Fburke&ei=TADSUP63JIrqrQeQ_YG4Cg&usg=AFQjCNHjj1etkEprxgZScbX9r2BB7LzRaA&bvm=bv.1355534169,d.bmk

chrisnavin.com said...

For the NPR faithful, throwing that awkward, illiberal, patriarch on the ash heap of history was no doubt worth the the political theater.

Those confirmation hearings represent the triumph of their ideas being mainstreamed and steering the culture, including feminism, environmentalism, old white Jewish guys talking about jazz, and for the most part, wherever Obama will lead them, apparently.

Henry said...

The real loss to SCOTUS jurisprudence was Douglas Ginsburg.

As for Bork, his book, The Tempting of America was an incredibly lucid defense of originalism. Almost too lucid. It made constitutional law seem easy. It wasn't until I read some critiques by other originalists that I realized that Bork's easy answers weren't so easy.

Still, his was a profound contribution. RIP.

CWJ said...

RIP. Which apparently the NYT couldn't do without kicking his coffin on the way to the graveyard.

Tom Shales is their money quote? Tom Shales? Really? No class at all. None.

ricpic said...

Bork terrified the Left not because he was partisan but because he was adamant about a judge judging and not legislating. For that reason I doubt he would have been a guaranteed vote for either side. The terror was that by his considerable example alone the case for strict construction as against a living and breathing constitution would have been strengthened in the ranks of judges and in the law schools.

shiloh said...

So, the lone survivor of Nixon's Watergate Saturday Night Massacre! has passed on.

Interesting many "pundits" say when Bork was borked was when Reps really, really started to hate Dems.

Whereas before they only really hated Dems.

In any event, it's been constant political gridlock since w/Reps using the filibuster at historical records, exacerbated exponentially by the relative easy election and re-election of a bi-racial, African/American Socialist, Marxist, Communist, Islamo-Fascist, wealth distributor, Satan, the devil incarnate, anti-christ yada yada yada Muslim born in Kenya, who wakes up every morning hating America and Americans.

btw, it's ((( morning ))) in America!

May Bork RIP ...

ricpic said...

...old white Jewish guys talking about jazz...

Next thing your gonna tell us only schvartzes have natural rhythm.

harrogate said...

Bork in his writings comes across as someone who thinks Happy Days was a documentary. His sensibilities and positions he always took as a "panelist" on cabel news, ditto. Yes he was quirky and said colorful things, but his sensibilities and philosophy trumped those characteristics during his hearings and in the public mind ever since--in the public mind for those who sympathized with him, every buit as much as those who loathed him.

Somewhere in this writeup lurks the suggestion that he got denied because he was "interesting." That doesnt hold up against the facts at all though.

Chiding leslyn, Ann write: "... because you disagree with what you think are my politics"

She really thinks her politics are misunderstood, it seems. Which will strike regular readers as odd. Maybe even "quirky"!!!

EDH said...

Why did that Kennedy video put a highlight bubble on that staffers head and then show a picture of Sotomayor on an inset?

Are they claiming that was Sotomayor?

Tank said...

dbp said...

It all turned out well enough:


Not really. Ever since Bork got borked the confirmation process has been a sham. Each nominee is now schooled on how to not answer questions or allow any insight into what they believe or might do. It's a great disservice to us all.

Chip Ahoy said...

Please allow this defense of Leslyn.

I too had trouble with that section. Read it a couple times and still didn't get it. But everything around points to the same thing so that's how I managed the part that did not process.

But Leslyn does remind me so much of my sister sometimes I wonder if it's her. I see my sister, and hear my sister when I read anything Leslyn writes.

You say her motives must be 1, 2 or 3, then ask her, which is it? And I know my sister so I ask, why not all three? An why only three? Is that all you can think of? Ha! I know my sister is more than those three things you narrowed her motives down to. My sister's motives are way more complex than that and there aren't enough Freuds in the world to sort though them. And you will never get a straightforward answer by asking or by narrowing it down to three.

Hi Leslyn. Sorry if that didn't help. I love my sister but we're from different planets. We regard each other as alien. With us the affection and understanding is mutual. Distance was the key to that.

Christopher said...

Watch out or Shiloh will crush your head.

chrisnavin.com said...

Ricpic:

I remember reading a piece by Bernhard Henri-levy (who to his credit lamented the rise of anti -semitism in France, partially because of all those Muslims brought in but shut out of French societe) arguing for the black-Jewish alliance that Obama represented when he was running for office.

"That's nuts!" I thought, but for some real Left radicals, it isn't. Many jewish people in this country were shut out of education, our institutions, and the WASP establishment after being driven out of their home countries. A few of them stayed in that frame of mind and used neo-Marxism and communism as platforms. NPR is a few clicks to the right of them but there's some sentiment there coming out of the 60's. See Tom Wolfe's 'That party at Lenny's'

Anyone can appreciate jazz, of course, and it's maybe it's a little questionable of me to highlight the jewish part of it, but when the glue is progressivism, you get one part of the coalition that formed the party that directed its animus at Bork, sometimes not engaging with his ideas at all.

Bork really stirred that pot and didn't care for the radicalism that came out of the 60's. Some liberals really loathe him.

That said, I have my doubts about some of Bork's ideas as well.

machine said...

...and why did he survive the Saturday Night Massacre?

Chip Ahoy said...

That sister's name is Beverly. Isn't that a beautiful name? Both my sisters have beautiful names. If I showed you a picture of Beverly as a girl, you'd think she was a doll. She's sitting on the floor against a wall, with her legs straight out, and in a doll like dress, looking up with huge eyes as doll eyes roll up and completely unselfconscious of her own unlikely adorableness.

Now tell her you observed her Party she's beholden disrespecting a respectable supreme court prospect in very bad taste so hard it's given the victim's name for it, and they're still doing it, and see how that onetime adorable doll responds.

damikesc said...

So, the lone survivor of Nixon's Watergate Saturday Night Massacre! has passed on.

Bork wanted to quit but the AG who did quit asked him to not do so.

Keep that in mind. He stayed on because his boss asked him to, not because he liked what happened.

KenK said...

Lessons learned: Write nothing, give few, if any, speeches or interviews, shave, put on nice suit, & stick to the talking points.

mccullough said...

Bork believed the Second Amendment only protected the right to participate in a government militia. Justice Kennedy did not.

grackle said...

Where's my intellectual feast?

It was gobbled up by the MSM, most of academia, the intelligentsia and the arts. It was a mere side dish for them in their ceaseless banquet of decadence.

damikesc said...

Lessons learned: Write nothing, give few, if any, speeches or interviews, shave, put on nice suit, & stick to the talking points.

That's the whole point nowadays.

"Why is everything so bland?"

Because anything EXCEPT bland gets torn to shreds. We can't have Justices actually express an opinion in their confirmation (Republicans have stopped giving Dem appointees free tickets to the Court and Dems stopped that with Bork). Presidential campaigns are just tedious slogs.

This is a country with a profound hatred of fun. As is the case with the entire West.

Thanks Progressivism.

ndspinelli said...

Here's what I got out of Teddy's polemic: The Dow was @ 8287 during the confirmation.

LoafingOaf said...

The country would be a worse place today had Bork been confirmed. Kennedy may have lacked nuance in his rhetoric, but when has this blog and its conservative commenters worried about that when right wingers (like Sarah "death panels" Palin) deploy the same tactics? I don't see what statements Kennedy made that can't be defended by looking at Bork's record.

leslyn said...

Althouse said,

Why did you truncate my quote, which goes:

"That proves my point! I know, Clarence Thomas, "high-tech lynching," but that wasn't about doing the judicial work, so I'm excluding that from the point, which is that they all learned what not to do from Bork."


Why truncate? Because right after "That proves my point," you say, but it's not about this....

The only point left was "they all learned what not to do from Bork."

Which was what, exactly? Not say they wanted an "intellectual feast?" That's it? That inevitably proves Bork must have had "intellectual ideas of his own"? Sounds more like he was saying he needed some. It just all seemed pretty thin, including having (or not having) a scraggly beard.

My point is: You're either a bad reader or dishonest or you think you're being funny or because you disagree with what you think are my politics, you think it's fine to use anything against me any way you want.

Well that's a different point, isn't it? But "...you think it's fine to use anything against me any way you want." Shit! Get a grip! It's not like I threw a flamethrower at you! Lighten up!

SteveR said...

Shit! Get a grip! It's not like I threw a flamethrower at you! Lighten up!

Pot meet Kettle

harrogate said...

Yes yes, by all means do keep insisting that he was OF COURSE denied because he was "fun" and "interesting" and "quirky" and such. Through the Looking Glass.

Skipper said...

We can only hope Judge Bork is representing Mary Jo Kopechne against Kennedy for eternity.

Petunia said...

Killer Ted Kennedy was disgusting on so many levels. I will never understand how anyone could have voted for him, apart from sheer stupidity.

Petunia said...

If Bork HAD been on the Court, his death would now leave an opening for another of Zero's unqualified nominees.

Brew Master said...

From Ted Kennedy:

is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit down at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of the individual rights that are the heart of democracy.

Doesn't this sound an awful lot like the Democrats campaign against Republicans this past election cycle?

It seems to me that the tactic has been expanded to cover the entire Republican party. They are being Borked daily.

Roux said...

Teddy was despicable. Of course Barry Obama is following in his footsteps.

Shripathi Kamath said...

A different perspective:
http://missionviejo.patch.com/blog_posts/intellectual-feast