Bernie Endorses Hillary

Bernie’s timing was, I think, just right. A lot of Democrats were understandably impatient for Sanders to move on, accept defeat and begin to help unite the party against Trump. But Sanders hasn’t been  running just to get himself to the White House; he’s been running to effect change. Waiting as long as he did helped keep up the pressure for change, and the result is a Democratic Party draft platform that is the most progressive since 1972.

There was a related practical reason for Sanders to hold off: if he was to be maximally effective in bringing his supporters on board for November, he needed to have something to show for his long efforts. Now he’s got it, and even still, some of his supporters—a small minority, hopefully destined to dwindle—are decrying his “sellout.”   But polls are already showing that most Sanders supporters are coming around to Clinton, and Sanders has reportedly indicated that he intends to campaign alongside Clinton in states where he can be most helpful.   Party unity is not going to be a major problem for the Democrats this election year.

Supreme Alarm

It is of course inappropriate for a Supreme Court justice to take sides in a US election campaign. That is, it’s inappropriate under most imaginable circumstances.

But let’s imagine some extraordinary circumstances. Suppose by some surprising turn of events a major party nominates for President of the United States a candidate who is unlike any previous candidate for that office? A candidate who is utterly unfit for the presidency? Imagine a candidate who brashly stokes religious and racial bigotry; who demonstrates a chronic, possibly pathological, mendacity; who physically mocks a disabled person on national television; who habitually hurls adolescent insults at his political opponents. A candidate whose statements suggest an alarming attraction to authoritarian government.

It’s hard to imagine that such a person could win a major party nomination for president, but what if it actually happened? Certainly, it would fly in the face of our ideas about what is normal and appropriate in US presidential politics. Even a Supreme Court justice highly respectful of the norms of political neutrality that constrain her role might feel duty-bound not to observe those norms under such abnormal circumstances. She might feel that to remain silent would in effect be to participate in the normalization of a candidacy that is not normal, a candidacy that should be unimaginable. Ruth Bader Ginsburg knows what she’s doing.

Police and Race

The events of the past week prompted me to review some of the posts I did over a year and a half ago on this subject.   While there is nothing I would take back, it strikes me that I may have been a bit unbalanced in my generally harsh treatment of the cops. Unbalanced because I never explicitly acknowledged what President Obama pointed out the other day: that the police in minority neighborhoods do have a tough job, that they live with danger and generally want to do good. But cops aren’t magically immune to the racism that pervades American society. Many cops’ daily experience probably even reinforces negative racial stereotypes.   And, unlike most civilian racists, cops carry guns and can use them with a presumption of legitimacy.

So, police racism is symptomatic of our country’s still unresolved race problems. Police racism is everyday racism exacerbated by special circumstances and empowered by the legitimate authority of the state to use violence. It would be remarkable if police racism weren’t a serious problem in the United States.



Justice Ginsburg has expressed regret for her remarks about Donald Trump.  That was undoubtedly the politic thing to do, but I still think she was on defensible ground.



  1. Mel Brender July 16, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    I must admit that I was somewhat troubled by Ginsburg’s original statement about Trump. Not that I disagree with her of course, but that it might in some sense have been inappropriate. I certainly would have felt that way had a conservative sitting justice seen fit to make dismissive remarks about Sanders.

    But it is equally true that Trump’s candidacy is, as you point out, in many ways unprecedented. Although the press is very tentatively beginning to acknowledge the fact that Trump lies regularly, he is still given way too much slack.

    His comments about Muslims, his talking up and down both sides of every important issue, his misogyny, his racism, and many other things all underscore is unfitness for office. But despite the gravity of these issues, a lesser one stands out in my mind.

    Back in 2011 he claimed to be investigating Obama’s citizenship, and said he had sent investigators to Hawaii to look into the question of Obama’s birth. He appeared on national television in an interview with Meredith Vieira on April 7, 2011 and said he had people investigating the issue. Somewhat surprised, Vieira asked if he meant he actually had investigators in Hawaii and Trump replied “Absolutely. They can’t believe what they’re finding.”

    Of course, slimy fellow that he is, he never said exactly what it was that they were “finding”. But he said this on camera, and has never retracted the statement. Interestingly, this is a verifiable assertion. I would like to see some reporter demand that he produce the “investigators” and document whatever unbelievable things they found. Alternatively he could admit that he made a false statement. Any reporter worthy of the name could make this the first question of an interview, and unless it is answered fully, there should not be a second question.

    • tonygreco July 17, 2016 at 12:17 am

      I think that his ability to lie with complete lack of inhibition, and to do it often, is one of Trump’s most distinguishing characteristics.
      On RBG, I continue to believe that her statements were in principle defensible, though I admit that they were imprudent.

Have a comment?

Required fields are marked (*)