When it comes to courage under fire, the pithiest sayings all seem masculine. As in, “Bigger man than I,” or, “That’s some cajones.”
None of course apply to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
From her forbearance amid a withering Republican offensive in her confirmation, let’s just say the lady’s got some ovaries.
So brainless and insidious were some of the questions, if I were the nominee I’d have stormed out of my hearing long before, say, Lindsey Graham did.
I’d have a major problem, confirmation-wise, in that I would have been more inclined to throw questions back at GOP senators than indulge them in their made-for-Fox News theatrics.
If Ted Cruz, for instance, asked me, “Do you agree that babies are born racist?” I wouldn’t have paused for a thoughtful answer as Brown did. I would have responded, “Not sure, Ted. At what age did your racism set in?”
When Sen. Josh Hawley asked me if I was soft on terrorists, I would have said, “It depends, Senator. Are we talking al-Qaida or the terrorists you fist-bumped at the Capitol?”
But what would have caused me to pick up my papers and hit the exit would have been the inanity Lindsey Graham asked of Jackson: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how faithful would you say you are, in terms of religion?”
My response wouldn’t be hers, which was thoughtful, personal, and – yeah, religious.
My response would have been, “None of your business, Senator. Since when do we apply religious tests to functions of our democracy? Since never. You irk my soul.”
However, before heading to the exit, having blown up my confirmation chances but also realizing I still had the microphone, I would add:
“Funny you should bring up religion as a criteria for high office, Senator.”
“What’s your position on adultery? Where does that rank on your scale of faithfulness?
“How many demerits would I get for bedding a porn star and then paying her hush money?
“How many points off for going to the extent of establishing ‘catch and kill’ arrangements about one’s sexual exploits with a national tabloid?
“How many deductions for mocking disabled people? How about people from other nations, and calling their homelands ‘shithole’ countries?
“Any points off for inflating the value of your properties to gain pricey loans, and at the same time deflating those same property values to avoid taxes and your insurance bills?
“To what extent is basic hypocrisy a drag on one’s ‘scale of faithfulness’?
“How about railing against undocumented workers while exploiting their work?
“How about offering one’s self as a voice of the working man and then stiffing contractors who work for you?
“How about expressing almost no interest in religion most of one’s adult life until it becomes politically profitable?
“How many demerits for, in a position of extreme power, dangling military aid for a country that is on the edge of extinction for the purpose of political dirty tricks?
“How many points off for attempting to subvert the world’s oldest democracy after the voters have had their say about who shall lead them?
“Is there any penalty at all for exhorting a crowd that turns into a mob and, though you’re the only person who could stop the mob, you do nothing?
“On a scale of one to 10, how does that all calculate?”
Those would be my last words in my confirmation hearings for my Supreme Court nomination. Maybe Sen. Graham and I could discuss our respective faiths further in the stairwell.
He was being slyly deferential when he said to Judge Jackson, when asking of her faith, how often she attended church, mentioning that he only managed a few church services a year.
I know a lot of Americans who have never darkened a church door and who show more fealty to moral standards and basic decency than those who attend religiously.
For some, Senator, religion is just show biz.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.