TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2022
Disinterest in low-income kids: There's absolutely nothing automatically wrong with being a double Harvard.
Indeed, there isn't even anything wrong with being a triple Harvard, which the recent, plainly qualified nominee was and still is.
You aren't required to be "double Harvard," but there's nothing automatically wrong with you if it turns out that you are. One senator introduced the novel term at the recent, highly fraught confirmation hearings for the plainly qualified Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who will soon be sitting on the United States Supreme Court.
That senator was Cory Booker. He apparently felt that the nominee had been poorly treated during the Seante hearings. He made these comments on Monday last, on the day that the Judiciary Committee took its vote:
BOOKER (4/4/22): I am hearing from people—not just black women, but particularly black women—who have been relaying to me their stories about having to come into a room, where you're more qualified than the people who are sitting in judgment of you, and having to endure the absurdities of disrespect that we saw Judge Jackson endure.
How could they disrespect a person like her who has done everything right in her life and in her journey? How?
How qualified do you have to be? Double Harvard.
How qualified do you have to be? Clerking at all levels of the federal judiciary. How qualified do you have to be? Three times confirmed by the Senate in a bipartisan manner.
To watch Senator Booker's fuller statement, you can just click here.
Has Judge Jackson done everything right in her life and in her journey? As far as we know, she pretty much basically has.
She's praised by everyone who knows her. We've heard of exactly zero detractors. There are no detractors at all.
At any rate, Judge Jackson's qualifications were plainly beyond reproach. Indeed, the nominee was "double Harvard," the exercised senator said.
In coining the novel term "double Harvard," Booker was saying that Jackson was a graduate of Harvard College, but also of Harvard Law School.
To that, we'll add the fact that she has served on the Harvard Board of Overseers. On that basis, we'd be willing to call her triple Harvard, without necessarily saying that this striking degree of elite entanglement might not have the occasional minor downside.
Senator Booker saw no downside to his double Harvard tag.
"How qualified do you have to be?" he asked in exasperated, rhetorical fashion as he noted that Judge Jackson had spent seven years, not just the initial four, studying by the banks of the Charles.
For what it's worth, we can't say that any Republicans on the committee ever questioned the idea that Jackson was fully qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.
Republican questioning has been lustily criticized in novelized versions of the hearings which prevail on our liberal tribe's side. That said, whatever you think of the GOP questioning, it tended to explore the possibility that Jackson might have political or social values which would make it hard for her to serve impartially on the Court.
For ourselves, we didn't think the questioning was anywhere near as disrespectful, "shocking" or absurd as our tribe's lore quickly had it. But no one ever challenged the idea that Jackson was fully qualified, though it fell to Booker to characterize her as a "double Harvard."
As it turns out, there seem to be quite a few "double Harvards" out there in these latter days. Judge Jackson had three roommates during her last three undergraduate years. These highly accomplished women have remained her lifelong friends.
As it turns out, all three of those undergraduate roommates are double Harvards too.
We were struck by Booker's use of the term "double Harvard." During his first round of questions, he had been honest enough to note the shortfall in his own qualifications:
BOOKER (3/22/22): You went to this elite law school. I went to a gritty inner-city law school, Yale. So you know this better than me...
Booker isn't a double Harvard. As he was humble enough to admit, he's just a Stanford-and-Yale.
We were struck by Booker's invocation of the term "double Harvard." In our view, where Judge Jackson went to school says a great deal less about her than what's she done in her adult life—in the years since leaving school. But the claim that Jackson's a double Harvard did seem to ring in our ears.
None of this has a thing to do with Judge Jackson's obvious merit. She won our vote with a single remark she tossed off during questioning by Senator Cruz, a Princeton-and-Harvard—a remark about the ways kids should be treated when they show up at school.
When Jackson's kids show up for school, they do so at Georgetown Day, another place where Jackson has sat in the board. That might almost make her a quadruple Harvard in terms of the values at play here.
Judge Jackson won our allegiance with her instant remark about the way kids should be treated at school. She's widely praised by all who know here. Beyond that, she's plainly "well qualified" to serve on the Court, as the American Bar Association's relevant committee found.
That said, Booker's praise for double Harvards strikes us as a point of concern. For starters, it may help us see why we're do despised by so many out there in the land.
Booker's remark about double Harvards struck us in one additional way. It made us think of all the kids in all the low-income urban schools who won't even become single Harvards after they leave public school.
"The lovely shall be choosers," Robert Frost once thoughtfully said. Stanford-Yales tend to choose double Harvards, but what have these people ever done about all those other good decent deserving kids?
Our liberal tribe just spent several weeks wailing about alleged disrespect toward a double Harvard. As we noted all last week, it's very, very, very rare to see us show a bit of interest in all those other good decent kids—in the millions of kids who won't even make it as far as Stanford or Princeton and Yale.
The lovely shall be choosers? With apologies, we thought it might be worth spending another week thinking about the millions of kids our tribe chooses to ignore, even as we tear our hair about alleged disrespect directed at double Harvards.
Tomorrow: Dueling tribal narratives concerning the double Harvards