THE DOUBLE HARVARDS: Concern about the double Harvards!


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.

(For that statement, just click here.)

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


  1. "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"

    Yes, the conservatives were desperately trying to find some way to disqualify Jackson, but did they find anything? Somerby doesn't engage that question. He asserts that the attempt to disqualify Jackson was not shocking, was OK with him. But the question is whether someone so obviously qualified in terms of expertise should be disqualified because of her opinions, and whether holding certain opinions automatically means that someone cannot set them aside in order to render a fair judgment. In jury selection, we accept a person's statement that they can be fair and unbiased. Why not for Judge Jackson?

    It is almost as if conservative Senators were complaining that no one liberal or even moderate Democratic in values and principles could serve in an unbiased and fair way on the court. Somerby is unwilling to discuss the truth of such an assertion, but he didn't blame the conservatives for trying to discredit her in a highly disrespectful manner.

    This woman spent years as a judge and the worst they could find was a teenager who got too light a sentence! One case in 500 that produced an overall average sentence in accordance with most other sitting justices. So, there was no EVIDENCE that Jackson was biased and yet the conservatives treated her badly -- and yes, they did that.

    But it is all OK with Somerby -- because the term Double Harvard sticks in his craw. He returns to it over and over, as if Jackson DID do something wrong by attending a top school, getting herself so qualified. And thereby we see the reality -- she is damned if she does and damned if she doesn't, because the plain truth is that Somerby didn't want to see her confirmed, and netiher did any of the conservatives who treated her badly, hoping to provoke some reaction (and failing to do so).

    Jackson deserves to sit on the Supreme Court, and that has nothing to do with whether Cory Booker went to Stanford and Yale. How exactly does Somerby think that black people will be appointed to anything, win election to any office, without being well-qualified, and yet he thinks they are somehow flawed by having done so.

    And again, he acuses Jackson, Booker and everyone else of not caring about struggling black kids, why?, because no such kids were nominated for the Supreme Court?

    And today Somerby has not written an essay but a tone poem, in which the more times Double Harvard is repeated, the more suspect it becomes, because nothing goods comes from those corridors -- Somerby ought to know.

    1. @10:35 You have a good point, but you weaken it by mis-stating the other side. Judge Jackson didn't just give a light sentence to a single teenager. She has a pattern of giving light sentences to convicted criminals. Now, that pattern isn't necessarily disqualifying, but one should state the objection accurately.

      BTW Democrats do the same thing. Trump's nominees were also obviously qualified, yet IIRC most ro all Democrats voted against them. In a way it's only to be expected. The Supreme Court effectively makes many policy decisions, so it's natural that each party wants Justices who agree with their policy views.

      On a personal note, the Democrat/Media campaign to fault overaggressive Republican questioning worked on my liberal wife. She was furious over Cruz's questions, even though everything he said was true and his manner was always respectful.

    2. I don't remember Kegstand Kavanaugh handling it as well as Judge Jackson.

    3. "She has a pattern of giving light sentences to convicted criminals."

      This was specifically contradicted by the ABA which produced a report on her sentencing that showed that her sentences were in the middle, consistent with those of other judges. She was neither lighter nor heavier than other judges.

      You are stating the claim that Republican questioners tried to put across by examining that single case, but they didn't have the evidence to support their accusations.

      You should listen to your wife more often, in my humble opinion.

  2. It is mistaken to call Jackson a triple Harvard because she served on the board of overseers. That is service to the University, not a form of additional education or qualification. If she had done a fellowship after getting her law degree, she would be a triple Harvard, but working there doesn't qualify as additional education.

    Why does Somerby wish to portray her as a triple Harvard? Because then she will be triply damned, not doubly damned.

    Somerby repeats over and over that there isn't anything necessarily wrong with going to Harvard, even multiple times. But he repeats that so often that the reader winds up wondering if maybe there isn't something wrong with it after all -- otherwise why would Somerby have to keep protesting that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with it?

    And phrases such as "that I know of" help create the suspicion that maybe there is some fault lurking in all those denials. This approach to discrediting Jackson is neither clever nor witty. It is annoying, repetitious, unsubtle, and dishonest (because Somerby's true opinion of Jackson comes shining through his pseudo-exonerations). Somerby clearly thinks there is something wrong with Harvard in particular and other Ivy Leagues in general. He never puts his finger on what it is, but his sneering attitude is obvious.

    It is very difficult to smear a well-qualified, obvious nice, hard-working person like Jackson, but this is Somerby's attempt at it. And it stinks. Ted Cruz couldn't be a bigger jerk about this.

    1. Hmmm. So Somerby is guilty of thinking there’s something wrong with going to Harvard because of the number of times he repeated there’s nothing wrong with going to Harvard?

      Insightful. We can only wonder how many readers were fooled by Somerby’s dastardly scheme into thinking he thought there was nothing wrong with going to Harvard.

    2. Take a highlighter and go back and underline every sentence where Somerby says there's nothing wrong with being Double Harvard. Then ask yourself why the additional repeated statements were necessary.

      Imagine this scenario. A man goes into a convenience store with a $20 bill. He says to the clerk, there's nothing wrong with this $20 bill. The clerk nods and says "Yes, sir." and then the customer says again, "It is a $20 bill but there is nothing wrong with that." The clerk nods again, with a slightly puzzled look on his face. The customer repeats "This is a $20 bill but there's nothing wrong with that, is there?"

      Wouldn't you be a little suspicious at that point? And that is only three repetitions. The clerk would start wondering what is wrong with the $20 bill or the person presenting it.

      There is no reason for Somerby to keep repeating that there was nothing wrong with Ketanji Brown Jackson's schooling if he truly believes there is nothing wrong with it. But clearly he doesn't believe that. He wouldn't write a whole column saying nothing except that there's nothing wrong with attending Harvard, if that's what he actually believes.

      The real question is why you are so quick to just accept whatever Somerby says at face value. If you weren't fooled by Somerby's assertions, then what do YOU think is wrong with going to Harvard, even twice?

    3. But I WAS fooled into thinking Somerby thinks there’s nothing wrong with going to Harvard because of how often he says there’s nothing wrong with going to Harvard.

      Therefore I can't tell you what I think is wrong with going to Harvard or what Somerby thinks is wrong with going to Harvard because Somerby--while writing a post designed to make me think there was something wrong with going to Harvard--never says what is wrong with going to Harvard.

      But now I see he thinks there is something wrong with going to Harvard because he never says what it is!

      And I have you to thank.

  3. "The lovely shall be choosers?"

    This refers to appearance, looks, beautiful women. It has nothing to do with going to Harvard. But who cares what Robert Frost meant by his phrases? He's dead anyway, and cannot object to Somerby's twisting of his words to mean something he wouldn't have agreed with. Most poets think that going to college is a good thing.

  4. "THE DOUBLE HARVARDS: Concern about the double Harvards!"

    And what is the concern that Somerby eventually states? He apparently thinks a good deserving black kid who couldn't make it into Harvard should have been appointed to the Supreme Court. Because otherwise, none of us care about what happens to all the people who are not Justice Jackson.

    Does that make any sense to you? It doesn't to me either. You don't choose your heart surgeon by how good and deserving they are, but by their qualifications and skill and knowledge, and their past results. Why should we all of a sudden be asked to disqualify Jackson because she is a double double when some deserving kids don't get to go to Harvard of any college?

    This is a blatant attempt by Somerby to use liberal concern for disadvantaged kids against us as we consider the first ever black female Supreme Court nominee. Somerby's reasoning is that if everyone doesn't go to Harvard, no black women should go there, and then they clearly shouldn't be considered for the Supreme Court. But there's really nothing specifically wrong with going to Harvard, even twice, except there is a concern if all those deserving black kids are not appointed to the court too.

    Or words to that effect. And the lovely shall be choosers, except looks aren't a qualification for the highest court.

  5. Unfortunately, this post is a total waste of time and says nothing about anything.

    1. You got that right!

    2. Maybe Somerby doesn't know they've already voted on her nomination and she was confirmed?

    3. Agreed there wasn't much to work with here. It's funny to still see the usual long comments deconstructing everything Somerby didn't say though!

    4. Bob could post "Ham sandwich."

      And we would get a long comment criticizing the post. Why ham? Because of it's Old English origins? Does he realize sandwich also has a connection to English nobility? Is he trying to insult the poor!? etc.

    5. You don't think Somerby wrote this shit for a reason?

  6. Where is the evidence that Cory Booker or Ketanji Brown Jackson are not interested in black kids?

    For one thing, he wants everyone to know black history, something that clearly benefits black kids:

    "Today, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Senate companion to Representative Jamaal Bowman’s (D-NY-16) African American History Act. This legislation provides important resources to strengthen opportunities to educate the American public about the richness and complexity of African American history and the impacts racism, white supremacy, and the struggle for justice have had on the fabric of America.

    “The story of Black people in America is inextricably linked to the story of America. This story must be reckoned with so that we can honestly reflect upon our nation’s past moral wrongs and the long and ongoing quest for justice that has been undertaken by Black Americans,” said Booker. “As we begin Black History Month, I am proud to introduce this legislation that will invest in initiatives to make African American history education programs more accessible to the public, help educators incorporate these programs into their curriculum, and develop additional resources focused on Black History for students and families to engage with.”

    And Cory Booker wants a "baby bond" for every child in America.

    And here is part of what he says on the campaign trail:

    "Booker also talked about issues of unique importance to the black community that other candidates rarely mention on the trail, like funding for sickle cell research and the connection between eviction rates for children and incarceration rates when those same children reach adulthood. “That’s a trauma in those kids’ lives,” he said. His audience didn’t need to see the data to know that was true."

    I've never heard Somerby mention such things. That means he must not care about black kids, right?

  7. Here is what a bunch of good, deserving black kids had to put up with, simply because they are black:

    "The Academy 1 Middle School teacher, whose name was not released, was suspended with pay by Jersey City public schools after students reported the 45-minute profane rant that was prompted by a conflict between a Black student and white student, reported

    “What are your chances in life of doing something with yourself other than sitting home waiting for your welfare check?" the teacher says at one point during an 18-minute recording of the rant.

    “Your neighborhood is filled with violence," the teacher continues. "Who is perpetrating the violence? Black on Black. The whites aren’t coming here shooting you all down, are they? Are they? How many white people came and shot you today?”

    But Somerby thinks that racism is no longer a thing, that black kids don't really deal with discrimination any more. That microaggressions are imaginary and black kids are just being oversensitive about racism, as they are taught to do by woke teachers.

    Well, this makes Somerby sound totally clueless. This teacher was stressed and having a bad day, but look where her mind went when she had her meltdown.

    This school district dealt with the teacher administratively, but it doesn't sound to me like they don't care about the black kids. It DOES sound to me like Somerby doesn't care about them, except to use them as a stick to beat liberals with.

  8. Some stats about black kids at Harvard and the Ivy Leagues:

    "The enrolled student population at Harvard University, both undergraduate and graduate, is 40% White, 13.7% Asian, 9.21% Hispanic or Latino, 5.98% Black or African American, 3.99% Two or More Races, 0.215% American Indian or Alaska Native, and 0.0979% Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders."

    From April, 2021:

    "Harvard College accepted 3.43 percent of applicants to the Class of 2025 — 1,968 students out of the 57,435 who applied — marking the lowest admissions rate in college history. A year ago, Harvard accepted 4.92 percent of all applicants.

    African American or Black students make up 18 percent of the admitted class, a significant increase from the 14.8 percent of the admitted students for the previous class. Typically the yield rate for Balck students at Harvard is lower than the yield rate for the accepted class as a whole. Thus, the percentage of Black who enroll in the first-year class at Harvard is usually slightly less than the percentage of Black students who are admitted.

    “We have the most diverse class in the history of Harvard this year, economically and ethnically,” reports William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid. “This is an incoming group of students who’ve had experiences unlike any experiences first-year students have had in the history of Harvard or history of higher education.”


    Somerby must know that not all white students go to Harvard either. Is he seriously suggesting that all public schools are failing because all students don't go to an Ivy League college?

    I've never heard Somerby talk about vocational education or two-year college, or high school graduation rates, or anything specifically relevant to the majority of kids who do not go to college. It is hard to believe he is that interested in them, except to whine about in nonspecific ways. What is his actual beef?

  9. "Disinterest in low-income kids: There's absolutely nothing automatically wrong with being a double Harvard.

    We are supposed to think that no one cares about low-income kids because a highly qualified black nominee to the Supreme Court happened to get both of her degrees from Harvard?

  10. "There's absolutely nothing automatically wrong with being a double Harvard. "

    Yeah, right.

    Oh, by the way, have you heard this one, dear Bob:

    Q: What's the difference between a lawyer and a bucket of shit?
    A: The bucket.

    1. Good joke template. Now to modernize, just substitute Putin supporters for lawyer!

    2. Shouldn't you be crusading, with your swastika-tattooed comrades, in Mariupol sewers somewhere, dear dembot?

    3. Oh yes, because my lack of support for Russia means I must be a Ukraine supporter!

      Great logic Qbot.

      Have you considered I might not support Russia attacking any country, irrespective of who they attacked?