Elena Kagan (L) listens to a question from U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (on screen) on the second day of her confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill.
Yesterday Elena Kagan told Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, when asked where she was on Christmas, that all Jews go to Chinese Restaurants on Christmas. Hey, wait a minute! Did she sayall Jews? Is she really saying that all Jews eat Chinese food on Christmas? Or does she just mean the ones who control the media or the ones that advocate world government? Uh oh! What does she really mean?
It was a kind of disorienting moment of total candor yesterday. With so much tension on issues of religion and ethnicity in America and the minute parsing of everyone’s comments on issues of faith and race, it was a relief to hear a totally unscripted comment on religion. Kagan’s laughter and then the disarming statement about eating Chinese on Christmas suggested that we can lighten up for a moment on certain issues that we tend to be very vigilant about. You could see in the hearing room that everybody appreciated the pure spontaneity of the moment. Is this something of a lesson for the Supreme Court? Perhaps justices should be ready to use unexpected moments of pure candor as opportunities to seek new insight into the law rather than focusing solely on the code-matching patterns of precedent and tradition. But what about that secret alliance between the Chinese and the Jews and their arrangement to meet each Christmas that Kagan talked about? Could it just be that Chinese restaurants are the only ones consistently open on Christmas here in New York? Nah… must be more to it.
Three-time Peabody Award winner, four-time Emmy winner and "Dateline NBC" correspondent, John Hockenberry has broad experience as a journalist and commentator for more than two decades. He is the anchor of the new public radio morning show The Takeaway on WNYC and PRI. He has reported from all over the world, in virtually every medium, having anchored programs for network, cable and radio.