, you beat me to the punch. I was about to post a query about a "reality check" for me. I think that there has been an overreaction to both the Warren and Northam situations. I listened to Northam's press conference today, and I think he did a good job of acquitting himself. Warren has been a very strong advocate for tribal interests her entire career (perhaps because she has native American ancestry). Northam, from what I understand, has been a strong advocate for minority interests throughout his career.
I raised this issue with my son, who thinks it is simple and I am using a double standard. I strongly disagree. But, that's where the "reality check" comes into play. I distinguished Kavanaugh's situation from Northam's and Warren's (in part because his is a lifetime appointment - no take-backsies).
So, here's my question: Is it a double standard, on my part, because I am a Democrat? Because I am white? Male? Liberal?
Or, in my defense, is there an appropriate distinction to be made? Robert Byrd
and Hugo Black
were both members of the Klan in their 20's and 30's, yet both became champions of racial causes later in their careers. People can change. Northam denied that the picture in the yearbook is of him, but admitted that on another occasion in 1984 he had
"darkened his skin" during a dance imitating Michael Jackson (so much to say about that, but not here). He denied harboring racist thoughts and history, and asked that his whole career be examined to determine if the allegations were fair. Yet, everyone is calling for his resignation.
I have three arguments that convince me that these complaints (against Northam, Warren, and even Al Franken) have gone too far: First, people do
change, and it is important to take a "whole career" approach to evaluating their "guilt" or "innocence" - and value; second, are they sincerely remorseful?; and third, are we really supposed to be the party of forgiveness, second chances, and reason, or do we adopt the "purity" tests so popular in conservative circles? At the same time, is it fair to judge Kavanaugh differently that Franken? Is it a matter of party?
I roundly condemned Bill Clinton's behavior at the time, and still do. I did not, however, think it rose to the level of impeachment, and still don't. Censure, yes, but not removal. In today's world, he'd have been hounded out by his own party.
I thought that Kavanaugh's defense, like Thomas's before him, was offensive and insincere. It, frankly, made me doubt his veracity - on top of which, he was (and continues to be) a terrible choice for the Supreme Court. Maybe, however, he can change (Thomas never has). The worst part of that process though, is that they were both confirmed without an adequate investigation of their fitness, or the underlying behavior that came up. In the case of Supreme Court Justices, doubts MUST be resolved before confirmation, and both will have careers clouded by that issue being unresolved.
Warren has never claimed to be a member of a tribe, and the leadership of those tribes have not condemned her for her, admittedly awkward, reveal - only particularly strident lesser officials and advocates. She needed to address the issue, though, before he candidacy, and her method was not irrational at all. Moreover, her record speaks for herself (which is why tribal leaders have supported her). She has always advocated for minorities and tribes in particular.
Franken was an outstanding advocate for women. Indeed, Gillibrand's swift condemnation of him and advocacy for his removal is why I cannot support her candidacy right now, although I like her positions on issues and think she is a quality candidate. Northam, as far as I can find, has always been an advocate for minority interests. I think, like Kavanaugh, he should not be forced to resign until a more thorough vetting process has occurred.
Finally, I follow the advice that Barack Obama gave with regard to Northam following the Charlottesville events: "That's how we rise. We don't rise up by repeating the past. We rise up by learning from the past and by listening to each other and knowing that we're all flawed. But we still try to preserve some baseline measure of goodness and decency and patriotism and we look for the good in other people, not the worst." That, I think, is the better standard for Democratic values than "Caesar's wife" purity.