So, turns out that a whole lot of serious people are seriously up in arms about the fact that Elena Kagan, if confirmed, will render the nation’s High Court 100% Ivy Grads. I mean, after all, why on earth would you expect a job whose prerequisites include academic-erudition-par-excellence, writing hundred-page abstract legal analyses, and knowing everything about law, ever, to be filled by graduates of the nation’s top law schools and undergrad colleges?? No way! In fact, the punditocracy is clamoring for more (wait, wasn’t it less last time around?) diversity, and less (wait wait, wasn’t it more?) academic expertise. Makes sense to us!
Here’s some of the best commentary we’ve seen thus far.
With the award for most heavy-handed simile, here’s The Washington Post:
Ivy has twirled itself around the marble columns of the Supreme Court like some smarty-pants weed.
Objective journalism, ho! But the WaPoets aren’t done yet:
Lady Justice: Your toga is stained crimson and littered with skulls and bones!
Never mind the fact that none of the Justices are Bonesmen… It sure sounds grandiloquent and faux-populist! Here’s another choice insight, quoted from a UChicago Prof:
We have to get nine vestal virgins from Harvard or Yale.
Taken out of context? Delightfully pervy. Plus, virgins from Harvard and Yale? Shouldn’t be too difficult to find.
Upping the douche-quotient, here’s Jerome Karabel, who wrote a book about how Ivy admissions used to be really unfair and why Santa Claus may not be real:
Harvard and Yale are, by any standard, great educational institutions, but it is not one of their strengths to instill in their students a sense of humility.
To which we respond: “Silence, impertinent fool!” (before twirling our mustaches, focusing our monocles, and releasing the hounds.)
Which, of course, brings us to our favorite and most sensible anti-Elena/Ivy-League argument: Those darned eggheads are smart… too smart. But, also… not smart enough to understand the trials and tribulations of us regular folk. (Wait, wasn’t that the problem with Sotomayor? Her rich life experiences and empathy? Okay, never mind…)
Throwing down the elitism gauntlet, here’s Kathleen Parker, also from the WaPo:
A New York City girl who attended a prep school, Ivy League colleges and law school — who once barred military recruiters from Harvard’s recruitment office and was an adviser to Goldman Sachs — can’t be characterized as anything close to mainstream America.
And Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas:
Ms. Kagan has spent her entire professional career in Harvard Square, Hyde Park, and the D.C. Beltway. These are not places where one learns how ordinary people live.
Yeah, because we definitely want “mainstream America” and “ordinary people” adjudicating on complex issues of Constitutional interpretation.
Upping the ante, here’s David Brooks, dissing Kagan, and by extension, all of us Ivy Leaguers (whom he terms “Organization Kids”) for being cold, calculating careerists:
There’s about to be a backlash against the Ivy League lock on the court. I have to confess my first impression of Kagan is a lot like my first impression of many Organization Kids. She seems to be smart, impressive and honest — and in her willingness to suppress so much of her mind for the sake of her career, kind of disturbing.
Makes a lot of sense, especially from the mouth of a columnist who has marched in lockstep to the Left ever since Obama’s inauguration.
Finally, according to Bay Buchanan’s, the only difference between Elena Kagan and airhead Bush-nominee Harriet Miers is (drumroll, please):
So, the difference between a qualified, educated person and an unqualified, uneducated person is… a good education. Buchanan’s has to be an Ivy Grad with those powers of deduction.
It’s always funny how these public putdowns seem to orbit in similar constellations: “Ivy League elitist,” “cold and unapproachable,” “out-of-touch,”
“under-qualified,” “over-intellectual.” Just mix and match and slap them on your political enemy of choice (Clinton, Obama, Kagan) and watch the populist resentment rise! But, really, doesn’t this all just boil down to America’s knee-jerk ambivalence to us Ivy Leaguers in general: yeah, they’re smart, but, um, no smarter than the rest of us! Anti-intellectualism–like sex on TV–sells; haters gon’ hate.
I wonder if the Court serves arugula.