WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2020
Plus, urges loathing of Barrett: Paul Waldman agrees that we the humans aren't "rational" beings at all. Here's what he says about the way we evaluate court decisions:
WALDMAN (10/14/20): Let’s be honest: All of us, whether we’re laypeople or lawyers or Supreme Court justices, believe that the outcomes we want to see are justified by the law and the Constitution. Human beings have a limitless ability to rationalize their own preferences to themselves. It almost never happens that a justice says, “The position I’m taking is constitutional baloney, but it gives me the outcome I want.” (The conservative justices in Bush v. Gore said as much, but that’s the rare exception.)
According to Waldman, we humans "have a limitless ability to rationalize our own preferences to ourselves."
According to Waldman, we act on this limitless ability when we evaluate legal rulings.
"Let's be honest," he says. We all "believe that the outcomes we want to see are justified by the law and the Constitution."
In short, if we support the right to abortion, we believe that right is guaranteed by the Constitution. If we oppose abortion rights, we have a limitless ability to rationalize that preference too.
Man [sic] is not the rational animal, Waldman thereby says—though in fairness, he's just being honest. He agrees with the formulation we posted this very morning. That overview, offered by Jennifer Senior, went exactly like this:
SENIOR (10/7/20): Back in the 1950s, the psychologist Leon Festinger came up with cognitive dissonance theory, which can essentially be described as the very human desire to reconcile the irreconcilable. Our brains, he realized, will go to baroque lengths—do magic tricks, even—to preserve the integrity of our worldview, even when the facts inconveniently club us over the head with a two-by-four.
According to that formulation, our brains "will do magic tricks" to justify our preferred beliefs.
Waldman cops to this behavior. We humans "have a limitless ability to rationalize our own preferences to ourselves," he says--and where Senior described this state of affairs with an air of lament, Waldman toughly says that's just the way it is.
Is that really the way it is? Not necessarily, no. For ourselves, we support the right to choose, but we aren't at all sure that the reasoning in Roe v. Wade actually "passes constitutional muster."
Beyond that, we've watched our own liberal senators the past several days with a sense of dismay. Our team is very, very weak. Somehow, we're able to see this.
Our floundering team is extremely soft—and this helps explain how we got here. That said, in his tough-minded piece, Waldman exhibits yet another part of our tribal weakness:
He seems eager to urge us to loathe the other, in this case the future Justice Barrett.
Barrett is going to sit on the Court because our tribal leaders persistently rolled over and died over the past thirty years. (People like Waldman won't tell you that, because it isn't done.)
Who lost Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Barrett? We did, when our leaders refused to push back over those many long years. You aren't allowed to hear about the endless ways they failed.
Rachel clowned us endlessly; we were dumb enough to buy it. Before that, Chris Matthews engaged in endless trashing of Candidate Gore and of future Candidate Hillary Clinton.
He called her every misogynist name in the book. People wanted to get on TV, so no one said a word.
Our team rolled over again and again, bowing to growing conservative power. Along the way, we never abandoned our greatest pleasure—the joy of looking down on the others.
Now, Waldman wants you to loathe Barrett too.
Go ahead—read his angry piece! This is the history of our own flailing tribe, but also of the reflexively tribal, war-inclined human race.
First we fail, then we loathe. Later, we get our wars. Anthropologists have been telling us this for the past several years.
Who lost this latest Supreme Court seat? At this site, we've been naming the names, and counting the ways, for the past 22 years!
We're just as bad as they are, he says. And not only that—we're better!