24.9.18

REDISCOVER BOURGEOIS MANNERS?

I suspect that the heirs to Dick Tuck have trumped-up allegations ready to go against any judicial appointee on Our President's short list, which is the best reason for Senate Republicans to call a halt to the freak show and call the vote.  Oh, and any wavering Democrats with close elections coming up in six weeks?  Turf 'em out!  Our President is spot on, exhorting voters attending rallies in Indiana or Missouri or Montana or Nevada to send the likes of Claire McCaskill back to private life.

I also suspect that the current set of allegations, against Brett Kavanaugh of the prep school and Ivy League circuit, have purchase precisely because the prep school and Ivy League social scene is just one long party.  Here's Emily Witt in The New Yorker.
Now the rest of us are learning about the hierarchy of Washington private schools—about what it meant, in the eighties, to go to Georgetown Prep as opposed to Landon or Gonzaga, and about the girls’ schools Stone Ridge, Visitation, and Holton-Arms. By all appearances, the kids from these prep schools almost exclusively socialize with one another, and that social network informs their identities for the rest of their lives. As reporters have investigated Kavanaugh’s high-school years, many alumni have expressed fear about going on the record and alienating themselves from a close-knit community. “I guess you could call it a fraternity between a bunch of rich kids,” an anonymous alumnus of Georgetown Prep, who overlapped with Kavanaugh there, told the Huff Post. “All this shit happens, and then nobody really wants to talk about it, because if one person crumbles, the whole system crumbles, and everybody tells on everybody.” I spoke with another Georgetown Prep alumnus, who hated high school but still didn’t want to go on the record about what it was like there. Even for those who take less pride in the institution, what happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep.
The early 1980s might have been particularly conducive to wild partying, with more effective formulations of The Pill, and herpes and heterosexual AIDS not yet a thing.  Here, though, there's one -- yes, with a dubious story, and yes, with a political motivation -- spilling the beans on how our Credentialed Elite aren't really any more educated, they're just better connected and better protected.

Ryan Cooper makes the same point.  "Aristocracy means corruption, deception, and moral rot. It is nowhere worse than in America's most elite universities."  That might be the case, irrespective of the politics of the matriculants, or the faculty, or the guest speakers.

Thus, perhaps it's time to make the case for finding promising graduates of Peoria Manual or Milwaukee Hamilton who continue at Northern Illinois or Marquette to fill government positions, rather than defaulting to the usual comb-out of prep schools and Ivies.

First, though, perhaps the Credentialed Elite rediscovering what acting like ladies and gentlemen is about would help.
The most salient fact about this alleged episode will never register on elite consciousness: the sexual free-for-all environment, which may or may not have given rise to an assault by Kavanaugh. The sexual revolution declared that the traditional restraints on the male libido—norms of male chivalry and gentlemanliness and of female modesty and prudence—were patriarchal and oppressive. Men should stop protecting women and putting them on a pedestal. Males and females were assumed to desire easy sex with equal fervor, and to be able to walk away from a one-night stand with equal complacency. With regard to students, adults should remain nonjudgmental and as far out of the picture as possible. Chaperones were relegated to the relic pile, as fusty as a mothballed corset. Starting in the 1970s, affluent parents often absented themselves from their teenager’s parties, leaving the house liquor cabinet unattended. Popular culture became hyper-sexualized.

The results were not pretty: the male libido, free to act as boorishly as it wanted; females getting drunk to reduce their innate sexual inhibitions, unprotected by any default assumptions against casual premarital sex. Whether a 17-year-old Brett Kavanaugh took advantage of this putative sexual liberation, many other teenagers have, and in so doing, merely followed the new script for sexual relations.
That's Heather MacDonald, although regular readers are likely familiar with the argument.

Meanwhile, the Normals are watching the confirmation follies, and they're likely thinking along the same lines as Steven Hayward.
The left elites bemoan “populism” and the rising hatred of our ruling elites, but who’s doing the most to cause this? If the Destroy Kavanaugh efforts succeeds and causes the public to recoil even more from our political life, just who do liberals think will be the long-term beneficiary? More people like Trump I expect. As Glenn Reynolds likes to remind liberals, they’re not going to like the new rules they’re putting in place.
Yes, and Reason's Nick Gillespie notes, it's precisely the Credentialed Establishment who are turning the United States into a low-trust society.  "Americans aren't born cynical. We're made that way by the actions of elites such as Ed Whelan and officials such as Dianne Feinstein. And the trend toward cynicism won't end until they change their behavior."

But they won't change their behavior voluntarily: being able to push Normals around because there is some mandate or some ruling that gives them the power to do so is too valuable a tool to have.
For 64 years, the infusion of prestige the [Supreme Court] received from its desegregation rulings has been remarkably durable, despite decisions that were made during, and that intensified, turbulence in public sentiment. But prestige is perishable, and senatorial ludicrousness can infect all who come into contact with it.

In recent decades, all civilian institutions important to national governance — Congress, the presidency, the parties, the bureaucracy, the media — have, by their ignorance and arrogance, earned the disdain that now engulfs them. Yet although the court regularly renders controversial decisions on matters about which the country is either deeply ambivalent (e.g., same-sex marriage) or hotly divided (e.g., abortion), its decisions are usually broadly accepted as ratifying norms that must be, and soon are, accepted.
That's George Will. Perhaps, one of these days, he'll advocate for the repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment, which might be the Original Cause of Senatorial Silliness.

Perhaps, after we have tried everything else, and found everything else wanting, we'll see the wisdom of devolving to the States, or to the People, everything that must now be Handled Uniformly by (not so) Wise Experts in a remote, distant, dysfunctional Capital.

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