Late September weekends are made for football, pumpkins, and unpasteurised cider, not quibbling over which Yale or Harvard Law School graduate will be the next archon to don the black robes of a US Supreme Court justice.
So I spent Friday night watching a high-school football game under the lights, an early autumn nip in the air. One of the teams represented Attica, New York, site of the infamous 1971 prison riot, elite press coverage of which gave me my first taste of the utter contempt that those who spill the ink and rule the airwaves have for the unlettered, the unprivileged, the un-degreed — for those who did not attend Georgetown Prep or Holton Arms.
Attica was clobbered in the game, but I did enjoy its fans chanting, ‘Attica! Attica! Attica!’ mimicking Al Pacino’s cry in Dog Day Afternoon. The locals were expropriating the cultural appropriators, we might say.
The next afternoon we took in the Army at University of Buffalo game, shown on the CBS Sports Network, which served as an unwelcome reminder of the way that television timeouts destroy the flow of the game. The sight of the Army team, tomorrow’s warriors, huddling meekly along the sidelines for two or three minutes at a time, waiting for a little man in a red vest and headset to signal them with permission to resume play, tells us who really calls the shots.
Television elongates and distorts whatever event it covers, or smothers. Which brings us to the Kavanaugh-Ford tilt, whose television coverage I successfully avoided.
Barring some peripeteia, it is impossible to determine which of the two is giving the more accurate account, yet partisans choose up sides and cheer for their team with all the irrational avidity of a Philadelphia Eagles or Pittsburgh Steelers fan. It’s fun to have a rooting interest, I suppose, though only the most psychotic Eagles fan thinks the Steelers fan is wicked at heart or sick in mind. Would that the Ford or Kavanaugh boosters displayed such forbearance.
My lineage runs through the Anti-Federalists, the Loco Focos, the Populists, the Catholic Workers, the Old Right, and the anarchist wing of the New Left. So I have no dog in this fight, to understate things, but the furor has certainly clarified matters in one respect.
As a straight white Christian male I am the fount, or at least a droplet, of pure evil to the hysterics of the Democratic Party, and to such lionesses of the Senate as Kirsten ‘The Lobbyist’s Daughter’ Gillibrand and Mazie ‘Just Shut Up’ Hirono. How can Aloha State Democrats claim both the ineffable Mazie and the magnificent antiwar heroine Rep. Tulsi Gabbard?
At least on this go-around we were spared any religious bigotry from Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is presumably saving her effluvial anti-Popery for Justice Ginsburg’s inevitable replacement, Amy Coney Barrett.
I have, over the years, secured jocose pledges from friends aspiring to executive branch-hood to appoint me St Lawrence Seaway administrator, a pleasant sinecure from which I could good-naturedly demagogue against the Canadians (they’re stealing our fish!) and still have time to write, à la Customs House gigs of Tom Paine, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville.
Time, I’m afraid, is running out, and now this latest spectacle has really bollixed things up. For I checked my Class of ’77 yearbook and was horrified to discover that a platonic female friend had scrawled an offhand, so to speak, reference to a sexual act. What to do? Sorry, C, but there’s plenty of room for you under that there bus.
Alas, the Kavanaugh show trial has disabused me of my idle appointee daydream. Unlike the senators and judges, I’ll just have to keep earning my keep, as it were, in the private sector, which shrinks by the hour before the creeping totalism of social media and the hall-monitor state. Lucky me.
Bill Kauffman is the author of 11 books, among them Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette (Henry Holt) and Ain’t My America (Metropolitan).