Will the real Elena Kagan please stand up?

We have mixed feelings about Maureen Dowd: on the one hand she is a totally awesome butt-kicking columnist who can swing with the big boys while pointing out how many of them are actually just whiny little boys. But on the other hand, she seems to phone it in a lot these days. That said, her recent columns about Elena Kagan have made us swoon again.

First, in response to the White House statement that the rumors about Kagan being gay were false charges (who knew that being called gay was a “charge”?!): Her Supremely Girly Girl column channels Joe Biden in a letter to Obama supporters, sharing details about Kagan such as, “She never watches the Rachel Maddow show. By 9 p.m., Elena’s usually snuggled up in bed in a lacy peach peignoir, scrawling “Mrs. George Clooney” in the margins of Blackstone’s Commentaries.” Also, “Ignore those wicked whispers about her sexual orientation. I cannot categorically assure you that she never flirted with another young woman when she was at Princeton. But I can categorically assure you that if she did, it would only have been to impress the cute guy in her Philosophy 101 seminar.” It would be funnier if it wasn’t so sad, and this line is truly heart-wrenching: “Elena is anything but a history-making, barrier-breaking, proud, strong, happy gay woman. She’s a garden-variety, sad, scary, single, childless career woman who can’t get a man because she’s too smart, works too much and refuses to settle.”

Dowd elaborates on this final comment in a subsequent column, All the Single Ladies, asking “When does a woman go from being single to unmarried?” Because this is now the storyline being attached to Kagan in her “defense” — that she is unmarried. Nobody’s said “Old Maid” yet but the implication is clear. Don’t worry, folks, she’s not a threat because she’s too old and dowdy to sleep with anyone! For the record, she’s only 50. Which would make her a spry young thing in Supreme Court terms — if confirmed, she’d be the youngest judge on the bench.

Dowd writes, “In the initial accounts about Kagan, she seemed to have an appealing swagger, posing as a judge for her yearbook, bragging about what a ‘famously excellent teacher’  she was, bantering with the Supreme Court justices as solicitor general, smoking cigars, drinking beer and playing poker.” In other words, she came across as the kind of woman you’d like to grow up to be. And now her narrative has been twisted into something along the lines of be-careful-what-you-wish-for. Sure, you can kick butt in the court room, but how will you find time to date and procreate?

We just hope that Kagan gets nominated so that she can spend the next three to five decades showing us who she really is. And having all the hot gay (or straight) sex she feels like (whether that’s a lot or little to none).


Image by Charles Fettinger