In March 1970, Roman Hruska of Nebraska, the then ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, rose to defend President Nixon’s nomination of Judge G. Harold Carswell to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, infamously saying:
“Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance. We can’t have all, Brandeises, Frankfurters, and Cardozos.”
Carswell had bigger problems, was withdrawn and Hruska became the laughing stock. His defense and celebration of mediocrity sadly dominated and defined the balance of his career and were featured in every obit 29 years later.
Today it’s clear that Hruska was no dummy and understood the deep yearning of many Americans to see people they identify with or perceive as like themselves in positions of power. Senator Hruska was a seer of the world that would come to full fruition in 2016 – and for that he is Hopelessly Liberal’s Person of the Year.
One measure of Hruska’s prescience was reported on December 8 by Rachel Maddow, she of “if it’s worth saying once it’s worth saying four times” who commented on results of a post-election poll conducted by Public Policy Polling about economic conditions that voters based their votes on.
A large majority of all voters believed that the Dow Jones Industrial average had risen from the day of President Obama’s first inauguration to this month and that the unemployment rate had decreased during the same period. The job numbers in fact decreased from 7.8% to 4.6% and the Dow rose from 7,949 to above 19,500 during that period.
However, Trump voters, by an overwhelming margin believed the Dow had decreased and unemployment increased under Obama – or at least those and other clearly counterfactual beliefs were recorded as their responses in the poll.
You saw it throughout the campaign as candidates (not just Trump) revealed shocking and dangerous ignorance of something the president should damn well know. Their supporters doubled and redoubled allegiance not infrequently citing the flaunted ignorance as among the candidates’ biggest assets. The blogger’s own favorite was candidate Gary Johnson’s “Aleppo Moments” – not only demonstrating his unsuitability but spotlighting the isolationist Achilles of the Libertarian Party and platform.
Leaving aside those thrilling cameos, Citizen Trump dominated the “know little and care to learn less” contest this election cycle. One can call him and his devotees seekers of mediocrity or surly ignorance, but the voice I hear is Hruska’s sayin “told you so.”