The human species has been able to manufacture many devices, engines, rockets, space ships, missiles, delivery systems, autonomous cars and even many of the genetically appropriate pharmaceuticals that attack specific cancerous tumours.
However, we have not, can not, and will not ever manufacture the perfect and complete and ultimate human being.
Two nights ago, a man appeared before the American people, dressed in a professional blue suit, complete with perfectly combed hair, the perfect two-daughter family, with the perfect White House-seasoned spouse, and the perfect Yale University and Law School degrees, the pedigree of having served as Justice Kennedy’s apprentice, served under George W. Bush, coaches his daughter’s “winning” basketball team, and serves meals at a Washington homeless shelter with the priest under whom he served as an altar boy.
Not only did he “check all the boxes” from the perspective of the Federalist Society and the White House, to become the next justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, to replace his mentor, he also has effectively checked all the boxes in his own perfect “manufacture”. It is as if we have come to the place where only the perfectly manicured, perfectly educated and trained, perfectly apprenticed, and perfectly devout are acceptable for such an office.
And the glaring irony is that the person who proferred his name to the Senate for confirmation hearings is one of, if not the most flawed human beings ever to sit in the Oval Office. It is not that I personally, or really anyone watching, has “anything against” Brett Kavanaugh. And it is not envy that prompts these observations. The glare from those kleg lights in the East Room in the White House will only intensify throughout the confirmation hearing process, and the ensuing votes to confirm or reject his nomination. And who would really want such a magnified and microscopic external and even internal examination in an age that finds the most minute “flaw” unacceptable.
We are all participants in the charade we are witnessing. We are all shared investors in a culture that has such a divided mind that it not merely tolerates but enhances the public popularity of such a president (at least by Republicans), and extols the virtues of his nominees. “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” (Romans 7:19) In one of, if not the first statement depicting the divided mind, these words capture the obvious paradoxical, complex, and perhaps legitimately unimaginable and unintelligible and inexplicable truth of the human condition and its culture and its pattern of choice and default.
Recognizing and acknowledging the internal tension and complexity and paradox that comes with each of us is not a sure path to resolving it in a predictably positive way.
However, not to recognize, or worse to deny our divided self is a sure way to entrap each of us in our own kind of paralysis. The truth of being able to know our “gaps” and our “incompletenesses” and our incapacity to live up to our highest ideals, while also being conscious that we do things we know to be less than savoury or moral or ethical, taken together, still need not encase us in a victimhood, or a paralysis, nor in a nihilist stance in which nothing we think, say, feel or do matters.
However, such consciousness can, if we are open, receptive, wiling and courageous, ennoble us to continue to work with our own paradoxes, without falling “victim” to either the illusion of our perfection, nor the sewer of our most evil reach. And, it is only in the “between” where neither complete perfection nor total depravity entrap us, (through fascination and fixation nor contempt and disdain) that our lives can be and are lived. So too, with families, communities, nations and the world community. Each of us individually has to opportunity to observe, reflect, and enact our own script(s) dependent on our state of consciousness, fear, hope and resolution.
Whether or not Kavanaugh will or would serve as an ally in the event that trump is indicted and prosecuted is an open question, yet his writing suggests that he would most likely be.
Whether or not Kavanaugh will or would support a move by SCOTUS to erase Roe v. Wade, while remaining open, is also a likely ‘yes’.
Whether or not Kavanaugh will or would support the right to bear arms, too, remains technically open, and yet what we can discern tilts in the direction of the affirmative.
Attempting to achieve the highest degree of “perfection” attainable by filling in all the requisite boxes in one’s resume, too, is a sign that one will be likely to have an unambiguous picture of the perfect society the law can and should create. And it is this absence of ambiguity in the consciousness of any person, and in his previous deportment(s) that should be alarming to those designed to participate in his formal confirmation.
Nevertheless, given the black-white divide that controls the democratic process in Washington, the prevailing cultural ‘meme’ is that only the unambiguous “perfect” model, as conceived by the strict literal constructionist argument about upholding the “intent of the writers of the constitution, is eligible to assume the vacant seat on the Supreme Court. And the overwhelming delusion, illusion and grasping that such an ultimately unattainable perfectly “manufactured” model of the predictable vote on the social “values” issues is available, demonstrates the degree to which absolutism, and not compromise in a balanced debate of the issues from multiple perspectives, rules the American government.
As one astute observer put it to me today, “Of course none of these people in Congress is voting on the basis of ‘right and wrong’; they are voting on the basis of politics, the preservation of their positions, and the leverage their vote will give them in the next debate!”
If, in the American political arena both the truth and the capacity to see and to serve the best interests of the public good have already become casualties, while the perfect legal "Ken" mannakin is strutted before the Senate’s Judiciary Committee to serve as the “public face” of the fundamentally corrupt political system, then we may have finally arrived at the point where the country is willing and eager to accept the lipstick-on-a-pig proposition.
We must not let ourselves be confused or seduced by a conflation of the make-up and the pig. And we need to keep our own "dividedness" available for easy reference, so that we do now drown in a pool of ethical and moral hubris.