Jonathan Chait is, of course, correct that stopping Robert Bork’s appointment to the Supreme Court is something for which Democrats can be extremely proud, as his subsequent writings make very clear. I’ve cited Bruce Ackerman’s review of The Tempting of America (“Robert Bork’s Grand Inquisition,” Yale Law Journal, 99 1419 (1990)) before, but with respect to that volume he said it well:
Bork has succumbed to his own temptation. Proclaiming his fidelity to history, his constitutional vision is radically ahistorical. Pronouncing an anathema on value relativism, his jurisprudence brings skepticism to new heights. Insisting on the sharpest possible line between law and politics, his bitter concluding section transforms a legal treatise into a Red-baiting political tract. Tempting reveals that Bork’s ordeal has transformed him into a human type that I, at least, had previously encountered only in Dostoyevsky novels. Mutatis mutandis, he is America’s Grand Inquisitor — grimly excommunicating heretics in the name of a Cause he has inwardly betrayed.
And the scary thing is, Chait doesn’t even bring out the heavy artillery; after Tempting it gets worse. Actually, you can actually see the transition in that book itself; the first part is merely tendentious, reactionary hackwork–”originalism” almost entirely devoid of historical evidence– but the second part an embarrassingly self-pitying reply to his critics in which he has clearly lost whatever bearings he once had. The effects of this can be seen fully in his (for lack of a better term) book Slouching Towards Gomorrah.
I’ll try to discuss this book in more detail in coming weeks. As an appetizer, allow me to excerpt my favorite passage [pp:128-9]:
One evening at a hotel in New York I flipped around the television channels. Suddenly there on public access channel was a voluptuous young woman, naked, her body oiled, writhing on the floor while fondling herself intimately. Meanwhile, a man’s voice and a print on the screen informed the viewer of the telephone number and limousine service that would acquaint him with young women of similar charms and proclivities. I watched for some time–riveted by the sociological significance of it all. [my emphasis]
Yes, it’s for the sociology. Won’t someone please think of the sociology?!?!?!?!?!? (When Ann Coulter dreams of Ben Shapiro being put on the Supreme Court, she must be doubly bitter than someone who pioneered Shapiro’s research methodology was rejected.)
Alas, while the book isn’t always this laugh-out-loud funny, it’s all equally unserious and shabbily argued, based almost entirely around wingnutty generalizations derived from random anecdotes. Whether the fact that someone with this judgment and temperament being rejected from the Supreme Court was a great tragedy, I leave to you to decide. I won’t quite give STG the slacktivist-on-Left-Behind treatment, but I’ll try to uncover some more gems in subsequent posts…