10/13/20: The Straight A Student and the Puppet Show* #poetry #amyconeybarrett #sheldonwhitehouse

10/13/20: The Straight A Student and the Puppet Show* #poetry #amyconeybarrett #sheldonwhitehouse

She’s not ready

Always prepared

and not nearly ready

a Straight A student

darling of professors, deans and students

she does her homework

but doesn’t remember it

Finish the paper and get it in the outbox

Snow White in the Ivory Tower

She’s never met the puppet masters

but she knows her fellow marionettes

her fellow professors and judges and senators and president

and always gets them to nod in approval

They smell and taste her blood

They can tell what a weapon she can be

Just what the dark money men

the puppet masters


an A student

Who lives for their approval

Inexperienced in the ways of the world

her world has been gold stars on a report card

and her art work under a magnet on the refrigerator

She figured out her way to get love early

and she beats it like a rented mule

She has busied herself for her entire life

doing abstract assignments

Her reason purposely segregated from the ground

The backdrop of the puppet show is a painting of Mount Olympus

She play acts the role of goddess in a black robe

controlling others’ destinies while floating on a cloud

What does health care have to do with sick people?

or abortion have to do with women?

What is like to be gay and not married …

when your partner is sick

and you have no right to care?

Are there people called workers and consumers

or they only vectors on a flow chart

Lego blocks

in a 3-D representation of a management plan?

Is there only a Constitution

words on a piece of paper

not a screen

they didn’t have screens in 1789,

and not a nation that wrote the sacred text?

The law is the same today as the day it was written

in the Eighteenth century

she is certain of that

The law is the same

for a musket or an AR-15

for a Navy SEAL or a Hessian soldier

the law is the law that was written

by men

who owned slaves

and saw their wives as property too

and thought that dignity was only a right of white men who owned real estate

All of the philosophy and poetry of the law

is excised from


and originalism

the courses that she got her A’s in,

The legal theories that resemble

religious fundamentalism

the reading of the Bible

limited to words on the page …

What fine pseudo-intellectual tactics

to preserve patriarchies and entrenched power

It is hard work to knit together detailed rational arguments

from such specious and superficial bases

This is a job for the tunnel vision of an A student

Technical writing designed to justify the designs of …

the puppet masters

The A student is charming

if you like that sort of thing

they always are

to people who like that sort of thing

so young

so much promise

but no experience

nothing very bad ever happened to her

she is a hero to other people

she’s the Savior

she has never needed to be saved

The puppet masters love her for that

she’s a slot machine who always pays

Democracy is about something more than usefulness

Humans have inherent value

in a democracy

The straight A student has no sense of humanity

hers or anyone else’s

She has no real intelligence

She’s smart,

but not that smart

real intelligence needs more than smart

real intelligence doesn’t take anything at face value

let alone the Bible or the Constitution

for God or America’s sakes

She’s not ready

She’s just prepared

and that is exactly what the puppet masters want

The old men sit behind thick black curtains

covered in darkness

designing on riches and power

hating democracy

rigging everything …

B students sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee

they are not naive,


The A student is

willfully naive

she has an instinct for where something that resembles power

and she lusts for it

underneath aw shucks and her “beautiful” family


She will only get the resemblance of power

All power resides with the puppet masters …


The People

who have seen this show before,

want the A student to be the last puppet

You can see the fear in her eyes

Confusion and fear

For one so socialized

the A student has a feral quality

She senses what is going on

and doesn’t dare put words to the music

Her words are reserved for constructing rulings

for a world that doesn’t exist

You can see that she is overmatched by the situation …

The people aren’t in the theater …

but she senses them out there

They line up at polling stations

this show is ending …

the puppet masters might get her on the court

but they won’t get their way

Democracy lives in the soul of the American people

The curtain is coming down …

She isn’t even a judge or a professor

not really

She is a star student

at Notre Dame Law School

which will never be Harvard or Yale

It is not an elite place

Excellence involves more than being an A student

When you think of some the great people who have been on the Supreme Court …

They are like great literary figures

not mere English teachers

They created this nation

not merely explained it …

America and its Constitution are living things

which grow and evolve

not rare old books

curated in a museum

Notre Dame wants to believe that it is exceptional

but it is ordinary

a professional school

not a great academic institution

staffing law firms and accounting offices

Greatness comes in extraordinary places

demanding venues of the greatest recognition

and from un-credentialed visionary outsiders

who emerge from the wilderness

with prophetic discoveries

Greatness doesn’t go to pep rallies and wine and cheese parties

Silently assessing how well everyone is doing

while singing songs of masturbatory self-congratulations

to themselves in the mirror

and to each other

in flat, false harmonies

Where is soul?

The puppet show makes one howl


the attribute of the Straight A student

is just the first requirement

for meaningful achievement


and heart

Experience and heart

It takes a lot to develop as a person who pursues

wisdom and truth

The straight A student just does her assignments

and forgets them

and those who cry and bleed

because of her cultivated innocence

line up to vote

The puppet masters have usurped our democracy

and this straight A student

is one of their prized possessions

She can be a decent person in her private life

and oblivious to the destruction she writes in her chambers

Just like Notre Dame

Too confident in its perception of good character

while ignoring the darkness in its victories

Just like the middle class

The sainted people on Main Street

callous dumb and hard-hearted

while giving each other good recommendations

and awards. …

Middle – White -American schizophrenia …

so the people line up

to vote …

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

— video of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s “Puppet Show” remarks at Barrett confirmation hearing

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