The whole American scene is entertaining enough to last a lifetime, once you get past your youthful desire for national gloire (Charles de Gaulle).
Joe Biden, for example, has been soundly whipped (Uncle Joab Goodall) for using some quotation or other of Robert Kennedy's. And so on (Lord Chief Justice Mansfield). He blamed himself without having noticed what his real trouble is.
First, one of his widely criticized sermons lasted 45 minutes. That is serious. If such a man got in the White House there'd be no shutting him up. I have not seen this point made, but surely a billion voters made a note of it. Worse than that, if anything is worse than much speaking (Holy Bible, Authorized Version), it is to orate publicly and then light into some humble person who presumes to say hold, hold (Shakespeare) and make mock (Marlowe) of him. Another little Biden difficulty is not that he quoted a British labor figure without giving him "credit," but that he forgot his own daddy did not, in fact, work in the mines.
People say yes, but then President Reagan is always getting mixed up about things and therefore coming up with howlers, so why not Biden? Again, the awful error is that Biden thought people thought him as daffy as Reagan, and they didn't. You can't pass yourself off as a lion, then pout because people do not judge you as if you were a wart hog.
Even more serious is his position as chairman of the committee questioning Judge Robert Bork. First, Biden acted as if he thought Bork was just dandy, then he made headlines complaining Bork would be a terrible justice on the Supreme Court, then he chaired the Senate group investigating Bork's qualifications. Having hollered from the rooftops that Bork should not be confirmed, he should not be chairing a committee looking into Bork's character. The law allows him the chair, but if the law thinks that is okay then the law is a ass, a idiot (Dickens).
There is, of course, something pretty enchanting about Ted Kennedy and his buddies going on and on about something Bork wrote in an Indiana law review some years ago that they think might conceivably be considered a character flaw, if looked at in a certain way, if in fact the words were to become law and if Bork were to hold to them and if, conceivably, Bork could arm-wrestle the court triumphantly. If (Kipling).
Now I well understand the hard times of the liberals, having adhered to the knee-jerk wing for a half-century, myself.
And it's rotten luck, really rotten, that the crafty and devious White House should have nominated Judge Bork, a man so obviously qualified for the high court that nobody who is dealing with even half a deck could object.
The main thing the hearings have done for us liberals is to diminish the reputation of Barbara Jordan, who speaks with the tongue of angels (I am quoting now from the Bible, more or less, St. Paul, Corinthians), with an irrelevancy that would be delightful, except that her argument is vicious. The whole super- liberal argument is that Bork is a man of the highest integrity, who can write opinions so well that none is likely ever to be reversed, a man of exceptional learning and intelligence, a scholar of impeccable credentials. Therefore, he would be all the worse on the court. What we want (their argument goes) is a nitwit who adores Kennedy. Which is fine, except it's a hard argument to sell.
Besides (Jordan goes on), she had a terrible time getting elected to the Texas legislature a generation ago. This shows you how unsuitable Judge Bork would be on the high court.
Did Bork have a role in Jordan's early troubles in Texas? Well, no, actually, he never heard of her in those days. But if he had heard of her, he probably would not have helped her. Case proved.
Has Bork in fact ruled against minorities, against women? Well, no, but don't you see, if he got on the court he would turn into a devil and women would be sent to scrubbing floors (a thing women think would be bad) and everything would just fall apart.
Well. Since nothing can be urged against Bork's confirmation (except that he is intelligent and principled and thus perhaps unsuited for high American office on the face of it), what do Kennedy, Biden and the other saints on the committee hope to accomplish by opposing him?
Look, they are waiting for the president to nominate Gary Hart. He'd have to, wouldn't he, if the Senate turned down Bork?
But back to my point that the American scene is invariably fun to be part of. What makes America great is baloney in the Senate (if I may speak as a television viewer).
And yet (if one may speak as a highly partisan liberal) the bad thing about the hearings is that they present the liberal agenda as the turf of imbeciles. Or (to get hold of myself as a good liberal should) the turf of unreasonable persons.