January 28, 2022

On Thursday evening, CNN [video above] carried this commentary from Sen. Josh Hawley: “I think it sends the wrong signal to say that, ‘Well if a person is of a certain ethnic background, that we don't care what their record is, we don't care what their substantive beliefs are.’”

Somehow CNN managed to get through both the interview and the resulting article without mentioning the obvious: President Joe Biden didn’t say anything like the phrase that Hawley used.  Neither did any other Democrat. President Biden only promised that he would nominate a Black woman. They do note that in his own announcement, Biden promised to select someone with "extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity."

It’s Hawley who doesn’t mention these factors, choosing instead to focus entirely on race and gender. The only conclusion that can be drawn from Sen. White Power’s statement is this: He doesn’t believe that a qualified Black woman exists. He certainly doesn’t seem to be alone, because Biden’s promise to add much-needed diversity to the Supreme Court is generating a furor among the ranks of those who can’t quite stop saying the quiet part out loud.

As Press Watch reports, Biden’s promise to nominate a Black woman to the court has “freaked out right-wing media.”

The frothing on the right included the usual suspects. Tucker Carlson took himself away from complaining about the sexiness of cartoon candies to spent 12 minutes on a rant that boiled down to underscoring Hawley’s statement: For the right wing, all Black women are the same, and none of them are good enough.

“So you have to wonder at this point,” said Carlson, “since we are going by skin color and gender, why Joe Biden is ignoring the obvious choice. Why doesn’t bite and strike a real blow for equity and just nominate Bridgett Floyd, George Floyd’s sister.”

Carlson accompanied his statement with a photo showing Bridgett Floyd wearing a shirt memorializing her brother. Clearly Fox audiences were meant to find this prospect terrifying.

Honestly, Bridgett Floyd has proven to be a powerful advocate who has effectively relayed her personal loss and the effect of violent, racist policing on her community. There are certainly worse choices—like an emotionally fragile sex abuser who blubbers about beer. However, it’s safe to say that there are a number of qualified jurists who are somewhat higher on Biden’s list.

Turning the dial from Fox News to Fox Business, viewers could find Larry Kudlow insisting that Biden was out to “end racism by being racist.” Not only did Kudlow say that Biden’s promise to nominate a Black woman was “a travesty,” he thought it was, well …

“I think it disqualifies Biden from being president. I think it’s much worse than big government socialist spending, or tax hikes, or central planning regulators, or ending fossil fuels, or open borders.”

That’s right. Promising to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court is worse than socialism. The worst thing ever, according to Kudlow. You can take away his oil, but not his promise of white people on the Supreme Court!

And when talking about freaked out right-wing media, it’s impossible to leave out … The New York Times. While the Times article was generally positive, it couldn’t help but imply that, just perhaps, Biden has already nominated too many Black women to lower courts.

“Half of Mr. Biden’s first 16 nominees for federal appeals courts have been Black women—as many as all previous presidents combined had appointed. That emphasis has attracted scrutiny from across the ideological spectrum.”

By “across the ideological spectrum” the Times apparently means a spectrum that begins and ends with far-right conservative Ed Whelan, who gets the only negative quote on this topic. Whelan—a former clerk for Antonin Scalia and assistant attorney general for George W. Bush—happens to have been the coach for Bret “I love beer” Kavanaugh in his Senate confirmation. Whelan is also the guy who pushed a conspiracy theory so awful that he was forced to step down from a conservative think tank. That theory involved Christine Blasey Ford being too drunk to remember details of her sexual assault, a claim that Whelan laid out in a series of tweets that included floor plans of Kavanaugh’s childhood home. 

So, clearly, that’s all the spectrum that’s necessary. And clearly Whelan is the kind of commentator who lives up to the Times’ standards in selecting appropriate voices.

The Times does point out that Biden’s choices have actually been inspirational to many, and that Black women have “struggled to become part of a very small pool of elite judges in the nation’s higher federal courts.” That struggle would be because past administrations rarely gave Black women an opportunity. During Donald Trump’s time in the White House, 84% of all nominees for the court at any level were white. Of his Supreme Court nominees, 100% were white. 

For Josh Hawley and Fox, the idea that there could be a qualified Black woman candidate to the Supreme Court is ludicrous. For The New York Times, the idea that President Biden can do anything without upsetting the whole spectrum of people who count, from far-right extremists to far-right extremists, is worthy of first-rate pearl-clutching. They’ll certainly have to find a diner where people are ready to talk about this.

Somehow, both of those things are reassuring.

Republished with permission from Daily Kos.

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