On Tuesday, The Washington Post published a curious op-ed about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, under the headline “I don’t know Kavanaugh the judge. But Kavanaugh the carpool dad is one great guy.” Written by Julie O’Brien, a neighbor of Kavanaugh, the column eschewed any discussion of his judicial philosophy and instead gave a portrait of him as wonderful friend:
He and his wife, Ashley, support their two daughters and other children at countless school and church functions throughout the year. In the summer, Brett is the “carpool dad,” often shuttling students to and from practices, games and activities. And in a city where professional obligations can often take priority over personal ones, Brett is a steady presence at his daughters’ events, even if it means racing across town just to catch the last 15 minutes of a game or program.
The article was widely mocked for being completely beside the point:
Republicans were pleased by the column:
Melissa McEwan’s tweet about the “perfidy of civility” is the sharpest analysis of this controversial column. As partisan passions become more heated in the Trump era, with government officials sometimes heckled as they go to restaurants, elite institutions like the Post (the idea has also popped up in senators’ Twitter feeds and in The New York Times) increasingly push civility as a panacea.
The ideology of civility means highlighting the humanity of figures like Kavanaugh, rather than the likely impact of their policies. So Kavanaugh becomes the warm-hearted car pooler, rather than the man who could end Roe v. Wade. It’s understandable that Republicans would want to move the conversation away from substance to personality. What’s more notable is that the Post is intent on facilitating this agenda in the name of civility.