This week the White House Correspondents Association Dinner and the practice of Affirmative Action both took what should be major body blows at the hands of Kim Kardashian (famous for a sex tape and very short marriage) and Elizabeth Warren (an academic now famous for gaming academic affirmative action at Harvard Law School ), who exposed the rot undermining both.
Once upon a time the White House Correspondents Association Dinner was a small time Washington annual affair , begun in 1920,where correspondents who covered the White House brought people they admired -- elected officials and businessmen for the most part -- for a low key dinner with good humored joking between the President and those who covered his doings. Proceeds of the dinner were to honor journalists and provide scholarships.
In 1987 when the late Michael Kelly brought the beautiful Fawn Hall, Oliver North's secretary, to sit with him, the tide changed. After that, media figures vied to see who could attend with the most attention getting guest. Things have gotten so out of hand, perhaps they ought to officially just combine this with the Academy Awards, viewership of which continues to plummet and make the media-Hollywood cohabitation legal.
This year, the man who planned the mission to execute Bin Laden, Vice Admiral William Mc Raven , was invited, but sat virtually ignored as the media mobbed the really important guests, Kim Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan and George Clooney
John Hinderaker's view mirrors mine:
[T]here's some truth to Kimmel's joke, after noting that the room was full of politicians, members of the media and celebrities, that "Everything that is wrong with America is here in this room." Partly it is due to the sense that everyone involved in the event is pretending. The politicians pretend to engage in self-deprecation that shows they don't take themselves too seriously. The comics pretend that they are just trying to be funny, lampooning politicians impartially in search of laughs. But, even though some of the lines are indeed funny, the premise of the event is fundamentally false. In fact, politicians, comedians and even the celebrities present are pursuing an agenda that is both self-aggrandizing and political.
So in the bubble of celebrity-vapidity are the invited guests that, when the emcee Jimmy Kimmel dared make reference to Fast and Furious, one of the Administration's worst scandals, most of the invited guests seemed to have had no idea what he was talking about and the Los Angeles Times made no mention of it to assure they never would.
Here's the joke that was too hot to handle.
"Democrats would like you to stick to your guns. And if you don't have any guns, you can ask Eric Holder to get some for you"
Good thing, too, Hollywood's cluelessness helps Clooney rake in that $12 million for Obama's re-election campaign.
Elizabeth Warren a/k/a Fauxcahontas
The Supreme Court, in a case known as Fisher v. University of Texas is about to consider whether public universities should be forbidden use of "diversity" in consideration for admission. This week, Elizabeth Warren, candidate for Senate in Massachusetts has shown how rotten to the core and easily gamed is the entire notion of diversity -- something which in my opinion has substantially undercut the academic rigor of American universities and the productivity of its businesses.
Ms. Warren parlayed a not overtly distinguished college and law school career into a tenured position at Harvard Law School. On leave from there, she went to work for the Administration as chair of the Troubled Relief Asset Program and Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
From that spot, the ever ambitious Ms Warren decided to run against Senator Scott Brown for the Senate. Like Martha Coakley before her, she obviously viewed the former Kennedy seat as a given for whichever Democrat garnered the nomination.
Now, however, obviously for the first time in her career, she is being closely vetted, and in the process she turns out to be an autobiography fabulist, as well as an embodiment for what's wrong with using "diversity" to fill academic slots.
It seems that Ms Warren, who had an 1/32 or maybe even 1/64 American Indian Heritage and who had never suffered any disadvantage on account of her assumed but unverifiable heritage, had held herself out as a member of a minority group in the Association of American Law Schools Directory, and she maintained that listing, and Harvard bragged of it in hiring her, until sometime after the hire when she and the school dropped the issue.
Ms. Warren at first claimed, as did some academic supporters, that that minority listing had nothing to do with her hiring.
Image created by Rocco
Tom Maguire, who regularly reminds that he's not a lawyer (although his attention to detail and logical arguments suggest otherwise) found her story unpersuasive from the outset:
So let's get this straight - our nation's law schools were under pressure to improve their recruitment of women and minorities. Ms. Warren was clearly flagged in the Association of American Law Schools as a double win, being a female and a Native American. Yet despite the value they claim to attach to diversity in hiring and their focus on improving their diversity in hiring, they missed the screaming clue in the directory and hired her thinking she was merely a white female. Later, of course, Harvard realized their oversight and touted her as the lone Native American woman on the payroll.
Iowahawk was even more succinct, tweeting "Bury my Past at Wounded C.V."
Law professors Bill Jacobson and Ann Althouse were also unpersuaded, offering more detailed argument.
But you see, in faculty hiring, the question isn't whether this particular candidate is good enough. The question is why does this person with excellent credentials get selected from the pool of applicants who all have excellent credentials? Why did Warren move up the ranks of the law schools the way she did?
Her identification as a member of a minority group in the Association of American Law Schools directory would help. Why are the schools reticent about saying that they consider minority status a plus factor in hiring? Why aren't they out-and-proud about diversity? Law schools have fought for the proposition that diversity is a compelling state interest, justifying racial discrimination . . . .
Is this reticence about the decency of affirmative action happening here because they want to help Warren in her Senate race? Is it because if she didn't really have that factor going for her but the schools used it, then... well... who, really, is hurt? Who was the next person in that pool of applicants? No one knows. Look away.
Hey, but who else might be cheating, claiming minority status that's not really true? Now, now, you're not supposed to think about that. It's quite unseemly, isn't it? Impolite.
Bill Jacobson focused on the chutzpah of her native American claim:
On what basis does someone who is 1/32nd of anything claim that 1/32nd as ethnicity or race for any purpose? And is it believable that Warren had no purpose in claiming Native American status when she was building her career in a field which desperately sought minority, and particularly Native American, members.
The issue, though, is larger than Warren personally and goes to the ethos of Warren's campaign.
How ironic that the new liberal lioness has resorted to counting drops of blood for her self-identification.
Even assuming the 1/32 Cherokee claim were true, what does 1/32 mean on a family tree? Here's a graphic demonstration from Jeff Dobbs of The Voice in my Head: See how long it take you to spot the "I" on the family tree.
So we have a quite rich woman, who suffered no hardship by this unverifiable drop of Cherokee blood, claiming special hiring consideration because of it. And make no mistake, at the time and under these circumstances, the double consideration -- woman and Native American -- meant a lot in academic hiring and probably still does.
Coming to her aid, Harvard Law Professor Charles Fried made a weak case that the Indian claim had no role in her hiring; His memory must be short. Hans Bader writes:
Fried was practically under siege at the time, and was keenly conscious of Harvard's need to diversify the faculty based on race and sex to appease not just left-wing students, faculty, and journalists, but also to avoid serious potential legal consequences from the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), the notoriously anti-employer civil-rights agency that has jurisdiction over discrimination claims against Massachusetts employers like Harvard University.
The MCAD had issued a probable cause finding that Harvard discriminated against left-wing law professor Clare Dalton based on sex, despite her manifest mediocrity, after it denied her tenure; Fried told a Harvard secretary in my presence that he was glad Harvard settled that case and paid off Dalton, even though he himself thought her claim meritless, as did people like Fried's colleague, Alan Dershowitz, who told me he was outraged by MCAD's finding and seemed disgusted that Harvard settled. Even many liberal students though she was an awful professor -- the liberal Richard Kahlenberg called Clare Dalton "the worst teacher I ever had" -- but the politically-correct MCAD thought that she belonged on the Harvard faculty anyway. Harvard's faculty badly wanted to racially and sexually diversify their ranks to show their commitment to diversity, so that MCAD would not view future denials of tenure to unqualified minorities and women as being motivated by a discriminatory animus.
The campus at the time was practically being torn apart in protests about the racial and sexual composition of the faculty. The African-American Professor Derrick Bell had publicly denounced the law school for its failure to hire a minority female professor. And left-wing students had reacted with rage and noisy and disruptive demonstrations to Harvard's earlier decision to grant tenure to four white men and no minorities (never mind that the four included left-wing professors ideologically in sync with the protesters, like Joseph William Singer. The left-wingers on the faculty -- members of the "Critical Legal Studies" movement ("crits") and their allies -- cleverly allowed tenure to be granted to these four men, who included their own ideological allies, so that they could use the resulting diversity backlash to come back for minority or female appointments later, knowing full well that those minority or female appointees would likely be ideological allies of the crits, since there are very few conservative black law professors).
To send a public message in support of diversity to the world, Harvard's faculty in this period voted UNANIMOUSLY to grant tenure to Charles Ogletree, an African-American, despite his second-rate scholarship, which privately elicited disappointment and dismay from some of his colleagues. Increasing minority representation on the faculty was perceived as an institutional or legal imperative even among faculty who privately harbored misgivings about the wisdom of race-based affirmative action. (Accreditors at the American Bar Association also require law schools to use racial preferences in hiring and admissions, to the extent permitted by state law, threatening to pull the accreditation of schools like George Mason University's law school over their failure to increase minority percentages.)
Note that in all my years of suing colleges and looking over thousands of college applications (produced in discovery), I have never seen an applicant being treated as Native American for purposes of admission (i.e., getting admitted despite lower-than-average grades and test scores) with less than 1/16 Native American ancestry, and I have never seen an applicant check just the "Native American" box based on less than 1/16 Native American ancestry. Warren has, at best, 1/32 Native American ancestry.
Professor Fried to the contrary, not many people were buying the "it didn't matter" defense. Warren next shifted gears and claimed she had listed herself as Indian in order to meet other people with tribal roots . Finally, doubtless realizing that was not going to hold up either, tossed in the sexism card for good measure. At this Bill Jacobson could hardly contain himself:
Why doesn't it add up?
Because the section listing "minority" faculty doesn't list which minority, so Warren listing herself that way would not be a means of meeting other Native Americans, because no one else would know she was claiming to be Native American just from the listing. (I wonder how Harvard knew if she never told them and it never came up?)
Here's her entry on the 1986-87 AALS List II, Minority Law Teachers:
Here's her entry on the 199495 AALS List II, Minority Law Teachers:
I checked, and her full bios also did not disclose her Native American status. Perhaps Warren just lumped all minorities together in her friendship plans.
Other evidence her story still doesn't add up? Warren felt compelled to play the sexism card:
"The only one as I understand it who's raising any question about whether or not I was qualified for my job is Scott Brown and I think I am qualified and frankly I'm a little shocked to hear anybody raise a question about whether or not I'm qualified to hold a job teaching," she said, pushing to put Brown on defense. "What does he think it takes for a woman to be qualified?"
Something tells me this is not over.
Ann Althouse found the huffy Warren response to skeptics inexplicable:
Now, I assume that Professor Warren supports affirmative action within the law schools where she has worked. Ask her about it! Does she vote in favor of admissions policies that count race as a plus factor? Has she supported faculty appointments, choosing one person over another, with race as a factor? I'd be extremely surprised if she hasn't. Assuming she has, why is she acting outraged that anyone would say that it seems that it benefited her and that she sought that benefit?
No one has yet asked the media what they were doing as Warren climbed the administration ladder. After all her record was publicly available then, too. Maybe they were waiting for Kim Kardashian to ask.