The ‘Borking’ of Robert Bork; the New Game Plan for the Hard Left

Today a view from two sides of a political issue. Judge Robert Bork and what he meant to America and to politics.

Joining us from the Right is Dean Chambers, blogger and pollster from UnSkewedPolls.com. From the Left it is Brian K. White, satirist and editor of GlossyNews.com.

RIGHT: Judge Robert Bork seen here at the beginning of dropping the F-Bomb… you can read it right on his lips. (CLICK PHOTO TO ENGORGE)

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Brian K. White — GlossyNews.com

Robert Bork was a striking figure in political history because he was such a bellwether touchstone. Just ask someone if they liked Bork and you’ll know with zero uncertainty if they’re a liberal or a conservative, but that’s only because he was such an anti-women, anti-gay, anti-rule-of-law sack of crap, not for any emotional reasons.

Bork was the first truly detestable Supreme Court nomination, and despite Reagan’s high approval ratings and near God-like status among the conservative right, his appointment was (rightly) blocked.

Bork enacted the “Saturday Night Massacre”, whereby Nixon was able to fire the chief prosecutor in the Watergate trial. There were two people before him that rejected this, but they both left office refusing to accept such a plainly illegal order. Bork did it anyway, and it was later found to be illegal, much as common sense would dictate.

He was also staunchly anti-gay, anti-abortion and anti-woman. More than that, he supported the southern states’ right to institute a poll tax, even though that is plainly unconstitutional. He also wanted to roll back civil rights, which may be conservative, but it’s no path towards the future.

The only good thing Robert Bork did in his political life, and perhaps even in his whole life, is give us the verb Bork: (v) To defame or vilify (a person) systematically, esp. in the mass media, usually with the aim of preventing his or her appointment to public office; to obstruct or thwart (a person) in this way. – Oxford English Dictionary.

The block of Robert Bork’s appointment to the Supreme Court actually worked against the democrats. Harriet Myers was appointed in a pseudo-Bork role, with Bush knowing full well that she’d be rejected, and the senate would rubber-stamp approve whomever came next, which is exactly what happened. There was no scrutiny for Justice Roberts, though there should have been.

Dean Chambers – UnskewedPolls.com

In 1987 after the resignation of Justice Lewis Powell, President Ronald Reagan nominated the most qualified candidate available for the seat, none other than Robert H. Bork. The contentious confirmation battle all but wrote the playbook for how the hard left would defeat conservative candidates or nominees in the future and engage in what they later would “the politics of personal destruction.” President Bill Clinton coined the term when speaking of his impeachment in Congress in 1998 when he accused Republicans of engaging in the politics of personal destruction.

Within hours of the nomination of Bork by President Reagan, Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy set the tone of the confirmation battle with his drive-by-shooting-style speech in which he opined:

“Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens.”

After that rhetorical declaration of war on the Bork nomination, the dirt-digging researchers swung into action and soon we would learn more about Robert Bork’s past than we ever wanted to know. There could no doubt that so much dirt was uncovered that Bork himself would learn a few things he had never known about himself. The allegations were considered slanderous but Bork was advised not to dignify them and otherwise to ignore them.

The coalition of liberal special interest groups and hard left senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Ted Kennedy, hammered Bork for two and a half months. After several weeks of the contentious battle, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted by a nine to five vote to recommend defeat of the Bork nomination by the full senate. The full senate voted on October 23, 1987 to defeat Bork’s confirmation by a 58 to 42 vote. Two Democrats voted to confirm Bork while 6 Republicans voted against his nomination and the remaining 92 senators voted party line, Democrats against the nomination and Republicans in favor of confirming Judge Bork.

Just two years later, when President George H.W. Bush had nominated Judge Clarence Thomas to replace Justice Thurgood Marshall, feminist activist Florynce Kennedy announced in response, “We’re going to bork him. We’re going to kill him politically. . . . This little creep, where did he come from?”

In 2011 New York Times columnist Joe Nocera opined, “[t]he Bork fight, in some ways, was the beginning of the end of civil discourse in politics… The anger between Democrats and Republicans, the unwillingness to work together, the profound mistrust — the line from Bork to today’s ugly politics is a straight one.”

Nocera also noted that Democratic activist Ann Lewis acknowledged that if Bork’s nomination “were carried out as an internal Senate debate we would have deep and thoughtful discussions about the Constitution, and then we would lose.” This is common pattern when the left engages in the politics of personal destruction, it is about an issue debate, or a candidate who has views, in which the left knows they would clearly lose if the debate is about issues. But when the hard left practices this strategy of stepped up ad hominem attacks and personal destruction, they can win by demonizing the other side.

This strategy works well when the other sides fails to respond to the attacks. Democrats learned this lesson in 1988 when Dukakis was taken to task for his ultra-liberal views on the issues by the Lee Atwater managed campaign of George H.W. Bush, as well as in 2004 when independent groups like the Swiftboat Veterans redefined John Kerry’s image of his service in Vietnam.

Republicans still haven’t learned the lesson. In the summer of 2012 when the Obama campaign attacked Romney on his record at Bain Capital, he ignored the attacks. Even some liberal commentators referred to the attacks as a “swift boating” of Romney that could work. They did work. Romney was too negatively defined by the time he won the first debate against President Obama.

The left, the Democratic Party and their willing accomplices in the media have raising Borking to an art form. In the end, Robert Bork’s most memorable moment, and the primary point of his entire career, will be the nomination battle which prevented him being elevated to the Supreme Court, and lead to the coining of the term “Borking.” It is not just the term but the entire strategy behind it which was given rise during the nomination battle over Robert Bork’s confirmation to the highest court. Robert Bork was Borked just more than 25 years ago.

Author: Brian K. White

Brian first began peddling his humorous wares with a series of Xerox printed books in fifth grade. Since then he's published over two thousand satire and humor articles, as well as eight stage plays, a 13-episode cable sitcom and three (terrible) screenplays. He is a freelance writer by trade and an expert in the field of viral entertainment marketing. He is the author of many of the biggest hoaxes of recent years, a shameful accomplishment in which he takes exceptional pride.

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