Thursday, July 1, 2010

One-Note Charlene and Kaleidoscope Charlie (and Tom)

“[Minnesosata Senator Amy] Klobuchar probably could have added that [in addition to the progress of woman in the workplace and in gaining political office, which is all Klobuchar mentioned] more Americans are "more free" today because of Thurgood Marshall, too. And she could have added this partial list of congressional statutes and Supreme Court decisions that have arguably made a lot more Americans freer since 1980: the Civil Rights Restoration Act (1988), Hustler Magazine v. Falwell (1988), Texas v. Johnson (1989), the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), the Civil Rights Act of 1991, National Voter Registration Act (1993), the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1993), United States v. Lopez, (1995), Rosenberger v. University of Virginia (1995), United States v. Virginia (1996), Romer v. Evans (1996), Lawrence v. Texas (2003), Roper v. Simmons (2005), the Voting Rights Reauthorization and Amendments Act (2006), Georgia v. Randolph (2006), D.C. v. Heller (2008), the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (2009), Graham v. Florida (2010), and McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010).”
—Dahlia Lithwick, writing in Slate about Day 3 of the Elena Kagan confirmation hearing.

No, Dahlia, sadly, she couldn’t have. Not because these things didn’t expand personal freedoms, in some instances exponentially, for many, but because Klobuchar is one of those boomer careerist women for whom it will always be the 1980s and ‘90s—the age of careerism, meshed with the women’s movement.

Yeah, sure, black public-school children, male and female, no longer are relegated to “separate-but-equal” schools, nor are refused service at lunch counters because they’re black, and, sure, statutes and court rulings have conferred or expanded freedoms in a variety of other respects. But none of this matters, because some of the beneficiaries of those additional freedoms aren’t women.

I guess Klobuchar is the new Dianne Feinstein, now that Dianne Feinstein (who is not a boomer) has finally realized that there are really important issues that have nothing to do with culture-wars “women’s issues.” I remember being really surprised last year that Feinstein actually was posing substantive questions to Sotomayor during Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing that had nothing to do with “women’s issues,” as such. Surprised and impressed; her questions were about other important issues, and some were quite discerning.

It’s one thing to dance with the woman that brung ya. But only with the woman that brung ya? These people are senators. And, really, it’s not the Reagan era any more.

Or maybe it is. After all, based on Lithwick’s reporting [I haven’t watched any of the hearing] at least one Republican senator still confuses the Declaration of Independence with the Constitution—which grants rights, whether or not those rights were endowed by our creator—and another confuses the Commerce Clause (part of the original Constitution, the part that gives Congress the right to regulate interstate commerce) with the Due Process Clause in the Fifth Amendment, one of the parts of the Constitution that limit government authority to, say, force-feed us fruits and vegetables.

Together, One-Note Charlene and Kaleidoscope Charlie and Tom could retread the ‘80s and ‘90s indefinitely, I guess. Or at least they plan on trying to.

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