Rich Manieri: No apology necessary from Trump nominee
What with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s costume party, the State of the Union address, and the so-called “Green New Deal” that will have us all heating our houses with Sweet Tarts in 10 years, you might be missing something important that’s going on in Washington.
It’s the confirmation hearing for Neomi Rao, President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Court of Appeals.
Rao is qualified for the job — a Yale graduate, University of Chicago Law School, clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She’s currently head of U.S. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. She has a sterling reputation. And Democrats hate her.
Because she’s a conservative and the D.C. court is important.
On Tuesday, Sen. Cory “I am Spartacus” Booker, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, didn’t exactly cover himself in glory while questioning Rao.
“Have you ever had any LGBTQ law clerks?” Booker asked.
The question, which referred to an article Rao wrote while an undergrad at Yale, didn’t trigger the response for which Booker had hoped. In fact, it backfired spectacularly.
Rao answered that because she had never been a judge, she’s never had any law clerks.
Booker then attempted to recover and asked if she’s ever had an LGBTQ employees.
“To be honest I don’t know the sexual orientation of my staff,” Rao responded which, of course, was the appropriate response to such a ridiculous question.
By the way, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, President Barack Obama’s selection, had never been a judge either before her nomination.
There are a couple of things going on here.
First, it’s the compulsion to judge someone’s character today based on what they said, wrote, did or wore decades ago.
I don’t know about you, but I am a vastly different person than I was 30 years ago. I act differently, I think differently, I see the world differently. People grow and change. But in today’s toxic political climate, there’s little room for forgiveness and genuine repentance only inspires ridicule.
Second, this is identity politics on full display and rather running from this divisive ideology, Democrats are embracing it. How else can you explain the choice of Stacy Abrams to deliver the response to the State of the Union address?
Abrams is a rising Democratic star who lost the Georgia governor’s race. She recently wrote a piece for the journal Foreign Affairs in which she fully endorsed identity politics as a necessary response to social oppression.
Abrams isn’t popular among liberals in spite of her stance on identity politics. She’s popular because of it.
Which brings back to Rao.
One would think that moderate Democrats — if there are any - would be able to support a nominee such as Rao — an Indian-American woman with an impeccable reputation. Instead, they’re doing whatever they can to destroy her.
So, they’re digging into her college archives. In addition to trying to unveil her as a homophobe, she’s been labeled by the left as “anti-woman.”
“A man who rapes a drunk girl should be prosecuted. At the same time, a good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober,” Rao wrote as a Yale undergrad.
This is a problematic passage for Democrats who somehow interpret it as an endorsement of sexual assault.
I’m not sure I see the harm in advising a young woman to stay sober while she’s on a date. That’s a long way, it seems to me, from blaming the victim.
Still, in the hot seat, Rao offered the Judiciary Committee an explanation of her college writings on date rape.
“To be honest, looking back at some of those writings and rereading them, I cringe at some of the language that I used,” Rao said. “I think I was responding to things that were happening on campus at that time and in the intervening two decades, I like to think that I have matured as a thinker and a writer, and indeed as a person.”
I have a solution to this nonsense, one that will level the playing field.
How about we review the college yearbooks, newspapers, term papers, essays, and letters of every member of the Judiciary Committee, especially those obsessed with the musings of Rao when she was an 18-year-old college student?
That would make for interesting, and one might even say, “cringeworthy” reading.
Rich Manieri is a Philadelphia-born journalist and author. He is currently a professor of journalism at Asbury University in Kentucky. His book, “We Burn on Friday: A Memoir of My Father and Me” is available at amazon.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.