Joni Ernst and the borking of Neomi Rao

Neomi Rao is President Trump’s highly-qualified nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit. We’ve written about her here and here.

Democrats are determined to block Rao. She is what they despise: a brilliant conservative minority group member and potential future Supreme Court nominee. To make matters worse, her professional focus has been the administrative state, on which Democrats rely to reshape America without the consent of its people.

To bring Rao down, Democrats found articles Rao wrote when she was a college student. The Dems focus, in particular, on statements about “date rape” on college campuses.

Rao was unequivocal that anyone who rapes a drunk female should be prosecuted. She also said, however, that female students could reduce their chances of being raped by not getting drunk. “A good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober,” she advised.

This is just common sense. It’s advice parents should give their college-age daughters, especially if they drink.

Rao in no way excused male students who commit date rape. To the contrary, she strongly condemned them. She merely pointed out that female students will be less vulnerable to date rape if they drink less.

Nonetheless, Democrats, led by the dreadful Kamela Harris, blasted Rao for her statements on date rape. No surprise here. This is what Democrats do.

Unfortunately, Harris and her crew were joined by Republican Joni Ernst, a new addition to the Judiciary Committee.

I wrote about Ernst’s addition to the committee here. I noted that her qualifications for this particular committee were less than stellar. It seemed to me that Ernst was added to the committee in response to criticism, arising from the Kavanaugh hearings, that there were no female Republican members of the committee.

Ernst was only marginally outdone by Kamala Harris in attacking Rao for her college writings. Ernst expressed concern “regarding messages we send young women everywhere.” But Rao’s message was a salutary one — stay in control. As Heather Mac Donald says, “one might have thought that a message of empowerment was a good one to send, but perpetual female victimhood is better, apparently.”

Ernst went on to say that “young women need to feel comfortable sharing the experiences they’ve endured.” Apparently, this entails making them feel comfortable about getting blind drunk so that, in case their “date” rapes them, they may be more willing to report it. Again, I agree with Mac Donald:

[W]hy not arm females with ways to stay free of allegedly ubiquitous male predators, such as telling them not to get black-out drunk? Ernst’s charge that Rao had somehow inhibited females from “sharing the experiences they’ve endured” implies that females can only share their experiences in a context of uncritical feminist victimology.

To acknowledge the complicated tangle of desire, confusion, cultural expectations regarding easy sex, and embarrassment about saying “no” that gives rise to drunken hook-ups is incompatible with the simple feminist morality play of helpless female and toxic male.

Rao doesn’t need Democrat support to be confirmed. However, she cannot afford to lose female Republicans. Normally, the concern here centers on Sens. Collins and Murkowski. In this case, though, Sen. Ernst became the main problem. If she votes against Rao, the nomination is in trouble.

Rao was therefore forced to fall on her sword. She apologized for perfectly reasonable statements made decades ago. Ernst appears to be mollified, though it’s not yet clear how she will vote.

But even if Rao is confirmed, Joni Ernst has helped the Democratic left achieve two things. First, they have injured Rao, decreasing the likelihood that, down the road, she will be nominated for the Supreme Court.

Second, they have strengthened the left’s hold on the culture. As Mac Donald says:

Every time a public figure repudiates a previous challenge to politically conformist thought, he solidifies the grip of that thought on public discourse. He gives credence to the idea that non-orthodox statements of reality are so patently offensive that they disqualify their holders from respectable office tout court. Mere citation of those statements is enough. . . .

[W]hile Rao may squeak by the political censors this time, the longer-term prognosis for breaking the grip of progressive ideology on elite institutions is not good. If any mention of females’ co-responsibility for drunken hook-ups causes a terrified dash for the exits, even more fundamental questions of culture and agency will become further off limits.

Thanks, in part, to Joni Ernst.

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