Robert Bork Was Borked Appropriately

I’m out of patience with the tired old fiction that all Republican judicial nomination nastiness is justified because people said mean things about Robert Bork in 1987. Bork was an ass. His nomination was a thumb in the eye of everybody in Congress who’d just kicked out Richard Nixon. Bork was the lawyer who defended Nixon and (unsuccessfully) argued that all the illegal stuff he did should have been allowed under the Constitution.

But sure I guess we should have appointed him for the rest of his life to a position where he could overrule Congress and prevent them from stopping another Nixon – would choose to give a paranoid president unlimited power, no matter what congress said, no matter how it violated the rights of private citizens, because he had a bizzaro-land divine-right-adjacent interpretation of the Constitution shared by approximately nobody.

It’s like if, I don’t know, you brought my abusive ex-boyfriend as a plus-one to my wedding, and then threw a fit when I told you I had a restraining order. “You” in this narrative is Ronald Reagan. If he was genuinely shocked by Bork’s reception and it wasn’t an intentional provocation, that’s the best argument I’ve heard that he was by that point affected by Alzheimer’s.

It is absolutely appropriate for Congress to attack the abnormal and dangerous political philosophy of a nominee chosen specifically to piss them off. The reason that hadn’t happened before wasn’t that congress suddenly became more radical; it’s that presidents hadn’t previously attempted such obscenely inappropriate (not to mention tone-deaf) nominations.

Incidentally, Bork was a creep who embodied the “not here to make friends” philosophy. He wasn’t doing himself any favors. If he was “brilliant” it was the kind of brilliance that makes clever arguments over wine about how black is really white and cruelty is the ultimate kindness. Watch some interviews sometime and you’ll see what I mean.

The whole bit where Bork was an innocent, persecuted by Democrat meanies just for sport, is a complete fabrication. I’m sick of hearing it. They were right not to confirm him. We should all be grateful.


Jeff says: It’s terrible that the word “Bork” has become a term used for unfair victimization. He was instrumental in Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre, a particularly low point in American politics.

Romie: I try to pretend that when people use bork in that way, they’re making a reference to the Swedish Chef. It’s not true, but it lets me escape into reveries of the Swedish Chef singing “Danny Boy.”

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