Family Values

During the furor over Brett Kavanaugh’s spritely march — or was it a dance? — to the U.S. Supreme Court, I was reading Leslie A. Marchand’s biography of Lord Byron, notorious in his day for his bawdy lifestyle, including incest with his half-sister. Yet Byron’s response to his critics was so much cleaner and refreshing than the nauseating shit-show staged for us by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Let’s look at the record.

Byron’s half-sister Augusta, 5 years his senior, was the daughter of Byron’s father, “Mad Jack” Byron, and his first wife. Byron was Mad Jack’s son by his second wife. He never met Augusta until he’d been farmed out to Harrow school, and then rarely. When Augusta was 28 and Byron 23, they fell in love. And so on. Until then, except for occasional letters, they were virtual strangers to one another.

I’m not apologizing for incest. I agree it’s a no-no. But if we can write off the dastardly deed itself, to which Augusta willingly consented, (and I acknowledge that most people will not be able to write it off, with reason, nor am I writing it off) Byron acted more honorably than the smutty-minded hypocrites on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and far more honorably than the revolting Justice Kavanaugh.

Byron never ‘fessed up because no one, so far as we know, had the brass to ask him the question directly. He did, apparently, confess to his wife, which probably “impelled her to the separation,” as we say in the United States.

Byron never denied his love for his sister, and, before their marriages, escorted her to high-class parties in London even though troops of the beau monde would walk out upon their entering. She remained his best friend and confidant until he died. (She ended up marrying a cousin, and unhappily.)

Now let’s look at Mr. Justice Kavanaugh, and the slavering beasts on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

On second thought, let’s not.

Republicans today love to prate about “family values.” But where is the love? I don’t see any love in their family values. I see hate, hypocrisy and lies.

Anyone who cares has already heard the phony-indignant whines of Chairman Chuck Grassley, the toad-eating Lindsey Graham, and the squirmy lucubrations of Ted Cruz, Jeff Flake, et al.

We’ve been through the charade of the FBI “investigation” of Young Justice Kavanaugh —too drunk to rape a girl successfully, even with a helper in the room — an investigation that did not question his accuser, or the only other witness — a weeklong FBI “investigation” that could not measure up to work that a New York Times reporter could turn out in 12 hours.

This is what passes for morality among Republican senators today: waterboys for a president who this week demeaned as “horseface” a woman he had sex with one time, then paid $130,000 to shut up about it — so he could be elected president.

What a dealmaker. What a U.S. Senate. What a disgrace. What is there to defend about these disgraceful men? Or their entire, disgraceful political party?

The good they do, if any, in their entire lives, will not stand comparison with a few lines that George Gordon, Lord Byron, tossed off in a few hours.


She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that’s best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes;

Thus mellowed to that tender light

Which heaven to gaudy day denies.


One shade the more, one ray the less,

Had half impaired the nameless grace

Which waves in every raven tress,

Or softly lightens o’er her face;

Where thoughts serenely sweet express,

How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.


And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,

The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

But tell of days in goodness spent,

A mind at peace with all below,

A heart whose love is innocent!

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