Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Economist Glenn Loury on Biden's "craven pandering"

Glenn Loury, an African-American Economist who teaches at Harvard, was asked recently what he thought about President Biden's preannouncement of the race and gender of his first Supreme Court pick. Excerpt:

You could call this craven pandering. I’m bemused by it because it unnecessarily raises questions about the fitness of whomever he might appoint, when he might have simply chosen a black woman as his nominee, and crowed about it after the fact. To avoid casting any doubt over the choice that he would have made, he could have said this is the best, most qualified person that I could find. But in any case, as he’s done it now, he’s limited his range of options to a very small percentage of the total population of people who might have been selected, and, you could say, has put an asterisk by the name of whomever it is that he might ultimately select.

This is, by the way, the Supreme Court of the United States of America, this is the final stopping point for any legal dispute. There are nine justices serving there, the quality of an appointment is not a small matter. We’re not now admitting a marginal student to an elite college campus, we’re selecting the people who are going to govern the country. The President might have engaged in a kind of subtle and tacit preference, rather than crowing about it and making it overt and explicit. It sows a kind of contempt for the standards that we ought to be employing.

Loury sort of pegs the act of preannouncing and limiting himself as having an effect which is opposite to the presumed intention. It is like affirmative action on steroids, or perhaps a better analogy would be "quotas with more cowbell." The presumed intention is to tout the idea that a black woman can be just as brilliant a legal scholar as a white man, or white woman, or black man. But then suddenly you tacitly say "And to prove this, we will eliminate anyone else from the running!".

The only response to something this illogical that I can think of is "OK, boomer."