Bench Memos

Richard Painter: Beyond the Pale

As Ed Whelan has so ably shown, Richard Painter’s HuffPo attack on him, concerning Ed’s spot-on criticisms of Goodwin Liu, is assiduously allergic to the facts about Liu.  And as John Yoo says, it would be more ethical if Painter would link to the specifics of Ed’s criticisms of Liu rather than (frequently) “misdescribing” them.  But I want to highlight something truly contemptible about Painter’s attack on Ed.  It’s this paragraph, near the beginning of his diatribe:

Liu is not the first nominee to go through a barrage of unfair attacks. Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish American to join the Supreme Court, had a nasty Senate confirmation hearing in 1916. The Clarence Thomas confirmation hearing was another debacle; Senators caricatured and attacked the nominee instead of discussing his ideas about judging. President George W. Bush’s nominee to the D.C. Circuit, Miguel Estrada, was attacked by critics who had preconceived notions about how a Hispanic jurist should think about the law. He eventually withdrew.

What do these three examples have in common?  Only their minority ethnic or racial status.  Brandeis “had a nasty Senate confirmation hearing” thanks to rank anti-Semitism.  Thomas memorably described his hearings, in their final phase, as a “high-tech lynching.”  And Painter himself attributes opposition to Estrada as grounded in “preconceived notions about how a Hispanic jurist should think.”

If Painter is not insinuating that Ed Whelan is an anti-Asian-American racist, then I don’t know how to read.  Ed is too nice to deign to notice this ugly smear, so I’ll say what he has a right to say: quite apart from the merits of the arguments for and against Goodwin Liu, Richard Painter owes Ed Whelan an apology for this paragraph.  He owes it now, and ungrudgingly, in public.

And for any of Painter’s defenders who don’t know how to read, the word “pale” in the metaphor “beyond the pale” is a noun that has nothing to do with anyone’s skin color.

Most Popular

Elections

No, Trump Isn’t Going to Drop Out

After he’s repeatedly survived the unsurvivable, we are supposed to believe that President Donald Trump might quit the presidential race before it truly begins because of a spate of negative polling. This is the latest chatter among (unnamed) Republicans, according to a widely circulated Fox News report and ... Read More
Elections

No, Trump Isn’t Going to Drop Out

After he’s repeatedly survived the unsurvivable, we are supposed to believe that President Donald Trump might quit the presidential race before it truly begins because of a spate of negative polling. This is the latest chatter among (unnamed) Republicans, according to a widely circulated Fox News report and ... Read More
Elections

‘Slipping and Sliding down the Polls’

This is an excerpt from episode 233 of The Editors. Rich: So Jim Geraghty, I have the RealClearPolitics Biden versus Trump polling page up right here. I’m just going to read you some numbers going back to . . . This is a CNBC poll from the 10th and 12th of June. And I’m just going to run through to the ... Read More
Elections

‘Slipping and Sliding down the Polls’

This is an excerpt from episode 233 of The Editors. Rich: So Jim Geraghty, I have the RealClearPolitics Biden versus Trump polling page up right here. I’m just going to read you some numbers going back to . . . This is a CNBC poll from the 10th and 12th of June. And I’m just going to run through to the ... Read More

The Year of Stupid

It turned out that the novel coronavirus was only the second-most-infectious disease to spread through the U.S. this year. Satan’s Cupcake has, after all, been diagnosed in less than 1 percent of Americans. The not-so-novel imbecility virus is, on the other hand, ravaging the minds of everyone from news ... Read More

The Year of Stupid

It turned out that the novel coronavirus was only the second-most-infectious disease to spread through the U.S. this year. Satan’s Cupcake has, after all, been diagnosed in less than 1 percent of Americans. The not-so-novel imbecility virus is, on the other hand, ravaging the minds of everyone from news ... Read More

Could Hamilton Be Made Today?

Say, kids, have you heard of this fun Broadway musical called Hamilton? It retells the story of the Revolution and the Founding in a delightful, contemporary idiom enriched by hip-hop and R&B. And all of the major American characters are played by minorities! It’s such a vibrant example of [gigantic Monty ... Read More

Could Hamilton Be Made Today?

Say, kids, have you heard of this fun Broadway musical called Hamilton? It retells the story of the Revolution and the Founding in a delightful, contemporary idiom enriched by hip-hop and R&B. And all of the major American characters are played by minorities! It’s such a vibrant example of [gigantic Monty ... Read More
Elections

The Strategies of Dementia Politics

Joe Biden is tragically suffering a mental eclipse and sliding away at a geometric rate. Understandably, his handlers have kept him out of sight. He stays off the campaign trail on the pretext of the virus and his age-related susceptibility to COVID-19 morbidity. I say “pretext” without apology. Quarantine ... Read More
Elections

The Strategies of Dementia Politics

Joe Biden is tragically suffering a mental eclipse and sliding away at a geometric rate. Understandably, his handlers have kept him out of sight. He stays off the campaign trail on the pretext of the virus and his age-related susceptibility to COVID-19 morbidity. I say “pretext” without apology. Quarantine ... Read More