Monday, March 01, 2021


A Washington Post editorial begins:
VANITA GUPTA is among the nation’s most esteemed civil rights lawyers, revered by liberals for her decades of effective, levelheaded advocacy, and by many of the nation’s biggest police and law enforcement groups for her measured, constructive approach. That rare combination has evidently triggered a case of the vapors among extremists opposed to progress on voting rights, mass incarceration, systemic racism and law enforcement abuse.

How else to explain the categorically dishonest video hit job by a far-right outfit that labels Ms. Gupta, President Biden’s nominee for associate attorney general, the No. 3 Justice Department job, a “dangerous appointee”?
The ad misrepresents Gupta's position on defunding the police (she's against it) and claims she “led a group that wants to reduce punishments on white supremacists, even terrorists” (the group opposes capital punishment), among other distortions. But I want to direct your attention to the words I've emphasized.

The ad isn't the work of "a far-right outfit" as most of us understand the term "far right." It's from the Judicial Crisis Network, which has worked hand in glove with the GOP since the George W. Bush years to seat more Federalist Society judges on federal and state benches. Its president is Carrie Severino, a former Clarence Thomas clerk who writes for National Review and was once named to National Journal's "NJ50" ("50 People Changing the Game in Washington").

In other words, the Judicial Crisis Network is as insider-y at it gets. Calling it "far right" suggests that it's on the fringe, far beyond where mainstream conservatism resides. The implication is that the smears in the Gupta ad have nothing to do with the mainstream of the conservative movement or the Republican Party. But they have everything to do with the mainstream right.

A New York Times story about CPAC, by Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman, misleads in the same way:
Mr. Biden does little to energize conservative activists. Indeed, Mr. Trump and other speakers at the event drew more applause for their criticism of Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Mr. Biden’s chief public health adviser for the virus and a figure of enmity on the far right, than for their attacks on the president.
Fauci is not a figure of enmity on the far right -- he's a figure of enmity on the mainstream right. Besides Donald Trump -- the acknowledged leader of the Republican Party -- Fauci has been attacked by Tucker Carlson, Rand Paul, Matt Gaetz, Rush Limbaugh, South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick, and many, many other mainstream conservative officeholders and thought leaders. Again, the claim that this is a problem on the "far right" suggests that it hasn't polluted the manistream right. But contempt for Fauci is a very mainstream position on the right.

Stop doing this. Stop imagining that you can verbally sequester this stuff in a containment area separate from where your Republican friends reside. This is not separate from conventional conservatism. It is conventional conservatism.

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