Presence of Malice: The Left's Contemptible Attacks on Judge Roberts and Family

Who didn’t know that the extreme left’s all-out war against whomever President Bush picked for the Supreme Court would be vicious? But nothing could possibly have prepared Judge John Roberts, his wife, Jane, and their two adopted children, Josie, age five, and Jack, age four, for attacks as contemptible as those we’ve seen already. Hopefully, they will take comfort in knowing that Judge Roberts is so overwhelmingly favorable his opponents have to resort to vile innuendoes in their frantic attempt to take him down.

Conservative commentator Charmaine Yoest called attention on July 21 to the absurd buzz among some left-of-the-universe Web bloggers:

It started with Manhattan Offender in a post yesterday asking “How Gay is This Guy?” and then he quoted Wikipedia’s entry for Judge Roberts. He zeroed in on some really damning evidence from Roberts’ youthful past: the all-male boarding school, studying French and Latin (gasp!), being a wrestler and, oh the horror, participating in choir and drama.

To support their folly, the bloggers include a photo from around 1972 of John Roberts wearing plaid slacks. Truly, the fashion nightmare of the ’70s should have kept men wearing polyester leisure suits, “Nehru” jackets, plaid pants, white belts and shoes in the closet, so to speak. But according to the logic of these blogger-buffoons, we should pull dad and grandpa out of the closet along with Judge Roberts.

It appears the (let’s make him gay so conservatives will hate him) lunacy took inspiration from a July 21 New York Times column, “Court Nominee’s Life Is Rooted in Faith and Respect for Law,” written by Todd Purdum, Jodi Wilgoren and Pam Belluck. In addition to reminding readers five times that Roberts and his wife are Catholic, it includes mention of Roberts’ yearbook, which records that “he played Peppermint Patty in the production of ‘You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.’”

It’s what happens in all-boy schools when the play has female characters. It used to be the norm in English theatrical performances of Shakespeare.

But it gets worse. Some “Get Roberts” zealots suggest that four-year-old Jack is a homosexual.

Project21, a conservative black group, announced in a press release July 22, that the “Daily Kos” Web site, self-described as “left/ progressive/ liberal/ Democratic,” included a post by a contributor identified as “Mayan”:

When Roberts thanked his family, he mentioned his son, Jack … Roberts’ wife’s face fell. It was like a poker tell. I think we should research Jack. This was followed up a few minutes later by “Geotpf,” who posted, “Of course, this is how ridiculous rumors get started, but extreme conservatives seem to have a lot of homosexual children.”

Who but desperate degenerates go for the jugular of a 4-year-old child? How did we arrive at a time in our public life and discourse that a family such as the Roberts is treated like the Manson family?

Next, enter one Robin Givhan via her Washington Post column July 22, p. CO2, a more subtle hit-piece somewhat reminiscent of fashion designer, Mr. Blackwell. But Mr. Blackwell only poked fun at celebs with tasteless, flamboyant wardrobes who deserved his barbs—never little children.

Givhan, a fashion writer, takes some bargain-basement, cheap shots at “John, Jane, Josie and Jack” because of their attire at the White House the night President Bush announced his nomination of Roberts. She found it “syrupy nostalgia.”

Givhan describes Roberts’ suit as “sober.” I’m familiar with variations of single-breasted and double-breasted but a “sober” suit leaves me clueless. Should Roberts have set it off with five pounds of gold chains? Maybe the nominee to the nation’s highest court should have appeared in Hollywood chic—jeans, an open-collar shirt with tails appearing three inches below a sports blazer and for an added classy touch, a three-day growth of stubble.

But then Givhan goes from silly to spiteful.

She manages to dehumanize Mrs. Roberts and the children by describing them in their pastel, summer attire “like a trio of Easter eggs, a handful of Jelly Bellies, three little Necco wafers.” Is Ms. Givhan reminding us that the Roberts family spends Easter and every Sunday in church like those right-wingers do?

Consider their great fashion faux paux. Dad’s in a suit, Mom’s wearing a pink suit (hottest color of the season) 5-year-old daughter is wearing a yellow dress and four-year old son is wearing a seersucker suit with short pants. If only the rest of us could don a short pants suit in Washington’s 90 degree/90 percent humidity.

Givhan complains that they’re not “Gap Kids.” The children “are not classic; they are old-fashioned. These clothes are Old World, old money.” The Roberts are “freshly scrubbed and adorable, just like they have stepped from a Currier & Ives landscape.”

Would she prefer Nightmare on Elm Street? I guess the Robertses should be taking fashion clues from some with-it fam like the Ozzie Osbournes.

What is it about appropriately dressed, traditional dad, mom and kids that evokes such acrid comments by Givhan after she admits the “children, of course, are innocents”?

Is Givhan insensitive about how her comments might subject the “innocent” Roberts’ children to cruel teasing? Didn’t she consider what neighborhood kids or schoolmates might do after hearing their parents quote Givhan’s sugarcoated snipes at Josie and Jack?

It seems that the Post’s fashion guru has a momentous point that supersedes sensitivity for “innocents”:

But the Roberts family went too far. In announcing John Roberts as his Supreme Court nominee, the president inextricably linked the individual — and his family — to the sweep of tradition. In their attire, there was nothing too informal; there was nothing immodest. There was only the feeling that, in the desire to be appropriate and respectful of history, the children had been costumed in it.

According to Givhan, John and Jane Roberts didn’t dress their kids for a special occasion—they “costumed” them. Givhan says it was “hard not to marvel at the 1950s-style tableau vivant that was John Roberts and his family.” They failed to “select all attire from the commonly accepted styles of this century.” Say what?

Givhan’s point seems to be that the Roberts are using their kids to make us pine for the good, old days. Is she harboring the notion that “the poor, uneducated and easy to command” will want this “Old World” guy on the Court where he will drag the nation back to the last century?

I find it hard to accept that anyone spills this much ink just to rail against “outmoded” fashion. I’m left with only the feeling that the Washington Post is costuming egg-headed, mean-spirited political punditry in the guise of fashion analysis. Wasn’t there one editor with sufficient professionalism intact to deep-six this frumpy commentary?