Many political bloggers have pulled out their chisels, eager to pick apart the record of Judge John Roberts — or the media’s coverage of that record — only to discover that there isn’t much of either to chip away at. (I mean, face it — the guy has been a judge for less time than “The Apprentice” has been on the air.)
Perhaps this vacuum accounts for at least part of the popularity of one Stephanie Klein, whose own blog has been getting a lot of attention — maybe because it offers so much more to pick apart than Judge Roberts’ oh-so-bland bio.
No one has accused Klein of bland. She’s the creator of Greek Tragedy, and she has already reaped more benefits from blogging than most could dream of. First came the book deal, then NBC started working on a sitcom based on the book, and now comes a piece in the New York Times Style section. Those who didn’t already know about Greek Tragedy must have been anxious to see first-hand the blog that the Times described as a “voyeur’s playground” with a host of groupies addicted to Klein’s candor and “Sex in the City”-esque lifestyle — as of this morning, the number one search on Technorati was “Stephanie Klein,” and the fifth most popular was “Greek Tragedy.”
Most of the blogs that come up with a “Stephanie Klein” search are written in languages other than English — a testament to her claim to an international following. A blogger from Costa Rica who learned of Klein’s blog through the Times article wrote a 1,260-word analysis of “Why Stephanie is still single.” Obviously Klein’s marital status came as a surprise to him: “Here we have a clearly intelligent, reasonably attractive person, a talented and creative individual with a pretty excellent sense of humor. What is the problem? On the surface, this woman should be prime quality.”
So what’s the diagnosis? “Bluntly, she is perhaps one of the more superficial, immature, shallow, money hungry, status-seeking people I’ve met through blogs … and I fear a women [sic] seemingly devoid of a value system or boundaries.”
And that writer isn’t the only one who thinks he can see past Klein’s flowing red curls to her vapid heart; the sorority girls at Barnard must have seen it too: “If she was as socially immature at Barnard as she is now,” he wrote, “I can fully understand why she was the only woman in her class not to be invited to join a sorority. They had her number.”
In response, Michael Carroll, who blogs at Global Pot Shot, asked in the comments section: “Did you go to college in the 1920s or something? No one is TOO emotionally immature to be in a sorority. Don’t they have ‘Girls Gone Wild’ in Costa Rica yet?”
Klein’s tale in the Times prompted more than just long-winded musings on how a “reasonably attractive” woman could manage to maul her chances at marriage — it also led Jesseanna at goofus musings to confess to being a “fame-o-phile” jealous of Klein’s success, and inspired one zaftig woman to start her own blog that, like Greek Tragedy, chronicles the single life in New York City.
But back to the serious stuff. After Sandra Day O’Connor’s announcement of her retirement, bloggers rushed to their starting blocks, waiting to criticize whomever Bush proposed. When we got a nominee who shocked the masses with his Y chromosome, lack of a Mariachi hat and a barely controversial background, the watchdog bloggers found themselves drilling dry holes. After all, there’s only so many times you can criticize a middle-aged white guy for being a middle-aged white guy before you need to search around for something bigger.
So when the Washington Post ran a front-page article pointing to a discrepancy between Roberts’ statement that he “has no memory” of membership in the Federalist Society and records that list him in the 1997-98 leadership directory of the organization, antsy bloggers were on the case.
Chris Bowers at My DD writes that “[t]his is pretty damning,” and implies that there’s a wealth of dirt still to be uncovered about this judicial poster boy: “No wonder the Bush administration is blocking the release of some documents he has written. I hope more Democrats will step up to bat and start opposing this guy.”
Lambert, one of eight bloggers at Corrente, has similar suspicions. After parsing through all of the details from the Post article, Lambert declares that there are “Lots of questions for Roberts. Lots and lots and lots. Because if the White House starts spinning on a question so simple, what else will come up if we really start digging?” Lambert’s proposal for where the lots and lots and lots of questions should begin: “What ‘private advice’ did Roberts give Jebbie during Florida 2000?”
While some lefties worry that Roberts’ memory lapse will snowball into a giant mass of deception, some conservatives are troubled by Roberts’ denial for other reasons. At Dagny’s Law Blog, Dagny wonders if Roberts is keeping his ties with the Federalist Society hush-hush as a way to seem more “politically neutral,” and worries that Ann Coulter may be right that “Mr. Roberts poses a threat to the conservative movement as a ‘stealth’ candidate.”
And as always, there are some whose only concern is how concerned everyone is. Kevin Drum questions why the Post is “wasting its time” with what is “about the lamest excuse for a nano-scandal that I’ve seen in a long time.”
Dr. Steven Taylor at Poli Blog agrees with Drum’s “nano-scandal” classification but does concede that “given the strenuous denials that Roberts was ever in the Federalist Society,” his name and contact information in the leadership directory is “something that Roberts/the admin will have to dance around.”
And then there are those who get it flat-out wrong. Betsy at Betsy’s Page manages to gloss over (or misunderstand — it’s unclear which) the entire thrust of the controversy by framing it as though it is Roberts’ very involvement with the Federalist Society (and not his subsequent denial of that involvement) that has made people mad.
“Are we to the days of the Anti-Masonic Party when we can oppose someone based on whether he was or wasn’t a member of the Federalist Society?” she asks. “The Federalist Society is an organization of conservatives who hold meetings to discuss their judicial philosophy and issues relating to the Constitution. They hold debates between conservatives and liberals … They are not some secret society plotting a takeover of the country.”
So since the Federalist Society is so harmless, why in the world would the Post consider Roberts’ membership to be front-page news? Does it have to do with the fact that Roberts denied that membership? Betsy thinks not: “The Post wants to play this eight-year old directory as some indication that Roberts is indeed, gasp, conservative. Oh, that’s a shocker, isn’t it? Bush nominated a guy who has worked in two Republican administrations and now we find out he is conservative. Who’d have thought that Bush would nominate a conservative? … If this is the best they have, they might as well fold their tents up and go home.”
Or better yet, fold up their tents and go read about Stephanie Klein’s latest tryst.
Samantha Henig was a CJR Daily intern.
After all, everyone else is.