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Clues of Kagan

     We were huddled around our high school basketball coach. He looked us in the eye and congratulated us on another victory. Then, he grabbed the scorer’s book and began reading the point total. “Crombie had 20 and Saxon had 23; Good job guys.” The rest of us just looked at each other. We didn’t dare shake our heads or say anything but I knew what everyone else was thinking.

     My high school senior year, I worked in the school Printing Department. I can’t say that it was good money.   I was being paid under the guise of “great experience”.  I did learn how to operate a printing press. My job was to basically clean the ink on each of the presses. I’m not sure that anyone even does the old fashioned printing anymore.   

     Anyway, I came up with this “great” idea that I would publish a paper and sell it at school. A couple of my buddies decided they wanted to go in on it. We would all write articles, I would print the paper, and we’d  sell the papers to the other students. We were emerging journalists.

     We called the paper “B-Ball Probe”, because we were going to do stories about the basketball team. I haven’t yet seen any copies pop up on PBS’s “Antique Roadshow” as collectors items; We only lasted 3 publications.

     We reported on the emphasis on scoring,  and how the Coaches put no emphasis on defense, assists or rebounding. This blog isn’t making me look real good, is it? Anyway, I can’t really say that it was “Bernstein and Woodward” reporting,  but apparently it got under the coaches’ collars. (Imagine that?)

     It was great to be a player/reporter because you got the inside story. Unfortunately, there is no freedom of the press when a coach tells you to “knock it off”. I think there might have even been something about a reward of getting to run extra laps everyday,  before practice. I did learn that there is “power in the pen”. I also learned that no one likes criticism; especially from some high school kid. I also learned a new term,  “rabble rouser”.

     Where am I headed with this rabbit trail? Well, I can’t really remember what I wrote back then, but I’m glad I don’t have to be accountable for it today.  That’s why I am always fascinated with the  machinations and process, when a Supreme Court nominee is facing scrutiny by the US Senate. 

     Everyone wants to find anything that has been written by the nominee. They pull out every writing and study it like the FBI studied the Unabomber’s manifesto, looking for clues. Well, maybe that’s not such a good metaphor for law. OK, they study the nominee’s past writings with a fine tooth comb.

     On Friday, 160,000 pages of documents were being readied and about half  were released  from the Clinton Library, which represents  the writings and works during Kagan’s tenure as a Clinton White House lawyer. Now, Senate clerks will begin “combing” over these documents to look for clues that might suggest the thinking and moral compass of nominee Elena Kagan.

     Historically, nominees have repeatedly surprised, when they have become Justices. Some supposed liberals show conservatism and some conservatives become “middle of the roaders”. It may be that the clues are not in past papers. Maybe it would be better served to talk to the everyday people that interact with the nominee and have personal relationships. What influences them today?

     I’m glad that I am not judged by my sophomoric writings of “B-Ball Probe”. Past writings probably show state of mind at the time, or even mood. In fact, maybe they show a leaning toward what an employer was seeking. This nominee’s writings might be  more about President Clinton than about her. Well, I guess it gives something for Senate clerks to work on,  late into the night.  Soon, our airways will be filled with those golden nuggets that were penned back then.

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