Move over, Snoopy.
According to Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s daughter, Juliet, chinchilla bunnies are warm, too.
I assume, as a fan of John Kennedy that when the Louisiana senator took over the questioning of the president’s unflappable nominee for the Supreme Court, after Sen. Kamala Harris tried to ruffle A.C.B.’s feathers with absurd questions, he wasn’t expecting to be helped by a 10-year-old.
At his sartorial best, the Louisiana senator asked the poised, candid, eminently qualified nominee: “Are you a racist? Are you against clean air, bright water and environmental justice?”
Sen. Kennedy was hoping to reassure his fellow Cajun that she was going to get the seat — to pay no mind to Sen. Harris’ classless inquisition. As Sen. Kennedy removed his glasses and leaned back gently in his chair, it was clear that Sen. Kennedy holds a soft spot in his heart for the 48-year-old mother of seven, who had withstood with grace and intelligence two days of Democrats’ self-serving soliloquies.
“Do you hate little warm puppies?” the grandfatherly Kennedy asked Judge Barrett.
The question prompted a laugh from Judge Barrett and probably many millions of viewers, who needed this moment of levity.
“I think my daughter would want me to put in a plug right now to say I do not hate little, warm puppies, and I do not hate chinchillas because we don’t have a puppy in the Barrett house, but we do have a very fluffy chinchilla, and so I don’t hate chinchillas either.”
“Duly noted,” Kennedy said with a gentle wink.
The senator is usually known for his short, frank and witty retorts.
Lately, a few salty, Churchillian-like zingers in response to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership and fellow Democrat smugness have shown that he, too, gets riled.
“It must suck to be that dumb,” quipped the usually dapper and gracious Southern gentleman.
“I am proud to be a deplorable … unlike the cultured, cosmopolitan, latte-drinking, avocado-toast eating, insider elite,” ranted Sen. Kennedy, shirtsleeves rolled up as he toured the devastation to his state from Hurricane Laura.
I was reminded of Churchill’s ungentlemanly attack on his nemesis, Lady Astor, the American-born, fellow aristocrat and first female member of Parliament. “You madam are ugly — I shall be sober in the morning, but you will still be ugly”, Churchill said. Astor had accused him of being drunk.
I’ve been trying to get my British-born, naturalized husband, Richard, to join me in calling Sen. Kennedy an American Churchill. It hasn’t been easy; Winston Churchill is a British hero to his generation and rightly so and has no equal.
But the recent exposure of the senator’s quirky but elegant defense of a woman who can think for herself in the face of unrelenting grilling from an unhinged opposition helped me out.
What clinched my argument was mentioning Churchill’s appreciation of clever, beautiful women — his wife, Clementine; daughter-in-law Pamela; and Odette Pol Roget. What really clinched it was the former advertising executive telling me Pol Roget, Churchill’s champagne of choice, owes much of its success to its connection with the war-time prime minister.
He agreed that if we were younger and had the energy, we’d make a fortune from messaging T-shirts, coffee mugs, stuffed chinchillas, you name it, with “Happiness Is A Warm Chinchilla.”
We’d even give royalties to A.C.B.’s daughter, Juliet. How very American!
Montecito freelance writer Calla J. Corner has written articles for publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal to the Boston Herald. She is the former Swiss correspondent for the International Herald Tribune and the Associated Press.
Calla J. Corner
The author is a Montecito resident.