For me it was 1987. I’d been a conservative for some time but a naive one. I had my views, the other side had theirs, let’s debate the issues and may the best man win. Then came the Bork nomination. Robert Bork was then, and may still be now, the finest legal thinker we have in this country. A lifelong scholar, a brilliant mind, a long and distinguished career in the law – no one was more qualified to serve on the court. The character assassination campaign he endured from the left, now widely believed to be one of the low points in modern American politics, was shocking to me. It was the point in my political education when I realized the other side did not deal in good faith, was not interested in open and honest debate, and would stop at nothing to get what it wanted, even if it meant the destruction of a honorable man’s reputation. Judge Bork’s nomination would, of course, ultimately go down to defeat in the Senate due to nothing more than the vitriolic lies spewed out by his enemies. I’ve never viewed the left in this country the same since.
And if the campaign to destroy Judge Bork had a leader, it was Ted Kennedy:
Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit down at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of the individual rights that are the heart of democracy.
Ted Kennedy has just passed so I will not elaborate now out of respect for the dead. Before we all get caught up in the media’s adoring tributes to him, I would urge you to read the following:
And finally, this GQ expose from 1990 by the late Michael Kelly:
This is the man who slandered Robert Bork in order to keep him off the court.