Elena Kagan does not fear locusts
Friday, May 14, 2010; 9:41 AM
Whether Elena Kagan is gay or not is no concern of mine -- although as in almost all matters sexual, it is of some interest. More to the point, though, is another aspect of her life -- or lifestyle -- and that is the simple fact that she has never had a minor cardiac arrest when the phone rang in the middle of the night and her kid, out with the car, failed a bed check. She is not a parent. I could say she is not a mom -- the current cutesy term for ???mother??? -- but fathers know the same fear and may, based on a recollection of their own wayward youth, feel it more keenly. Whatever the case, becoming a parent is admission to a huge club in which the members, no matter what their status in the rest of their lives, experienced an instant loss of control. Parents are humble people. Becoming a parent is in some ways like becoming a peasant. Peasants are more than poor. Traditionally, they live at the whim of other forces -- their masters, the weather, crop failures, locusts, disease and just about anything else you can name. They have little control of their lives. Elena Kagan, like so many of us, has had maximum control over her life. She was born into affluence -- not wealth, mind you, but a long way from poverty. She is smart and she had a choice of careers. Money was never a problem and neither, it seems, was health. She was master of her environment, in control of almost anything she wanted to control. In these respects, she is like so many of us. We do not fear locusts. But becoming a parent changes everything. Suddenly, a piece of your life ??? the most valued piece of your life ??? escapes your control. It happens right off the bat ???with conception. Will it be a boy or a girl? Will he or she be healthy? Will he or she have your dazzling eyes or your splotchy skin? None of this is in your control. The issues and challenges of parenting sooner or later come before the courts ???everything from the nature and quality of the schools to the kind of trash permitted on the Internet. Parents are concerned with the mundane matters of public safety and schooling -- among other things. Would a childless judge understand that? Would such a judge have the one quality President Obama once said he sought above all others in a Supreme Court judge ??????empathy???? It???s odd or merely interesting that of the nine justices likely to be on the Court when it reconvenes in October, two are childless, both of them women -- Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. (Sotomayor replaced David Souter, who lacked children but not, clearly, empathy.) So there is no rule. There is only concern or curiosity, but whatever it is called, it certainly has more relevance than sexual orientation or lifestyle. Right, mom?