by WILL FOLKS || I’m not a big fan of “teachable moments.” The term – a staple of America’s politically correct lexicon – is laced with the sort of faux, hypocritical “tolerance” that has come to define the nouveau gauche.
It is the language of liberal “herdthink” – a dagger-in-the-back way of saying “your whole life is about to be destroyed over something you did years ago that has absolutely no bearing on who you are today.”
“Teachable moments” are the calling cards of gotcha politics … the bullets fired in drive-by character assassinations. They are useful only in laying others low, and when you get right down to it, all they really “teach” us is how to be vindictive and unforgiving toward others.
Of course let’s be honest: Those are core values of liberal “tolerance.”
But as much as I loathe the term, this summer has produced two truly “teachable moments” – although they are probably not elucidative of the sort of “instruction” our nation’s jack-booted thought police were hoping for. These “teachable moments” are genuinely illuminating points of contrast in an ongoing cultural conversation taking place in America – a nation which has grown deeply divided and increasingly tribal following eight years of an administration devoted to diversity awareness, not prosperity for all (and certainly not prosperity for black Americans).
Both of these moments occurred in Washington, D.C. – within forty-eight hours of each other, as a matter of fact. One of them took place under the bright lights at Nationals Park, where Major League Baseball’s All-Stars gathered on the evening of July 17 for the 89th installment of the midsummer classic. The other transpired in private the following day – in the “Republican” cloakroom of the United States Senate.
First, though … baseball.
The 2018 All-Star game was supposed to be the pinnacle of 24-year-old Josh Hader’s career. The hard-throwing Millersville, Maryland native had been tossing darts all season for the Milwaukee Brewers, compiling a minuscule 1.50 earned run average and amassing a whopping 16.7 strikeouts per nine innings pitched on the season.
That’s the definition of “dealing.”
Hader’s opponents? They were batting a measly .122 against him headed into the All-Star break.
For those of you unfamiliar with the metrics of our national pastime, those are ridiculously good numbers for a pitcher.
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(Via: Getty Images)
A model of consistency, in 66 relief appearances over his two years with the Brewers, “Haderade” had never given up more than two runs.
His fairy tale ended abruptly in Washington, D.C., however. With the All-Star game deadlocked at two runs apiece in the eighth inning, Hader hung a 95.3 mile-per-hour fastball high and directly over the center of home plate to Jean Segura of the Seattle Mariners. The Dominican shortstop tattooed the offering – depositing it into the left-center field seats to give the American League a 5-2 lead.
Hader was pulled from the game … but his nightmare was only just beginning.
As he sat in the dugout contemplating Segura’s three-run bomb, news broke that the long-haired lefty – in 2011 and 2012, when he was 17 years old – posted racist and homophobic remarks to his Twitter page.
“RIP to Josh Hader’s career,” one baseball analyst noted by way of reacting to the offending tweets, many of which turned out to be rap lyrics Hader had copied and pasted.
Whatever the origin of the tweets, the story immediately went viral. In fact, it spread so quickly that Hader’s family members – who were in attendance at Nationals Park – were compelled to remove the replica jerseys they had worn bearing his (and their) name as they sat in the stands.
Before the game was over, gay rights groups were already using the incident in their fundraising efforts.
Another “teachable moment” was brewing … or so it seemed.
No one could have predicted how this particular lesson would unfold, though.
Immediately after the game, Hader owned his past and apologized to his teammates and fans for his offensive tweets. He referred to himself as “young, immature and stupid” at the time he made the remarks, and made it clear the racist and homophobic language he used was in no way reflective of the person he is today. Finally, Hader said he would accept whatever punishment the league decided to dole out as a result of his teenage tweets becoming part of the public discourse.
What happened next was truly remarkable …
Hader’s teammates – all of them – came to his defense.
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That’s for sure … but that sort of common sense is decidedly uncommon these days.
“At the end of the day you have to give people a second chance,” Cain added. “You have to forgive people and move on from it. For me it’s over and done with.”
During Hader’s first press conference in the aftermath of the scandal, every single one of his teammates stood behind him in a show of solidarity with the pitcher. And in his first appearance on a major league mound after the story broke, Hader received a standing ovation from fans in Milwaukee.
Liberals were apoplectic.
The “teachable moment” here? Like a high, hanging fastball it’s hard to miss: Understanding and forgiveness can trump political correctness and manufactured outrage.
At least in the sports world … sometimes.
A short drive up South Capitol Street, however, a vastly different narrative was unfolding that same week …
“WE WERE BACKSTABBED”
Nearly a year ago – in September of 2017 – U.S. president Donald Trump submitted the name of Ryan Bounds to fill a seat on the uber-liberal U.S. ninth circuit court of appeals. A Yale law school graduate, former federal clerk and assistant U.S. attorney for the district of Oregon, Bounds was eminently qualified to serve on this appellate court. In fact, he previously clerked for judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, an appointee of Ronald Reagan whose seat on the ninth circuit Trump hoped he would soon fill.
Not just Trump, either. The left-leaning American Bar Association’s committee on the judiciary unanimously endorsed Bounds’ nomination for this court. And Senate “Republicans” worked overtime to vet him and ensure they had enough votes to advance his nomination (which they did … right up until the very last moment).
He was not a controversial choice, in other words.
Bounds won’t be getting the job, though …
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Why not? Call it a no-knock raid from the “tolerance” cops. An uber-liberal judicial advocacy group – the Alliance for Justice – dug up some “dirt” on Bounds from decades ago and leaked it to a Democratic senator. This lawmaker proceeded to skulk into the GOP cloakroom and whisper it into the ear of an impressionable “conservative” – one the liberals apparently knew would do their dirty work for them.
What was the “dirt?”
More than a quarter century ago, as an undergraduate student at Stanford University, Bounds had the audacity to suggest essentially the same thing I wrote at the outset of this piece: That political correctness in America had gotten out-of-control and that “race-focused groups” often do more to stoke division and intolerance than they do to alleviate it.
“I submit that the Multiculturalistas, when they divide up by race for their feel-good ethnic hoedowns, engage in nearly all of [the fundamental behaviors of groupthink],” Bounds wrote in one of his college editorials. “The existence of ethnic organizations is no inevitable prerequisite to maintaining a diverse community – white students, after all, seem to be doing all right without an Aryan Student Union.”
Hard to argue with that analysis …
Bounds’ youthful writings – to the extent they should have been designated as controversial – were addressed by the nominee during his confirmation process. Specifically, he disavowed his prior remarks and apologized for “the obnoxious tone and misguided sentiments” expressed therein. He further vowed to display “appropriate sensitivity to the views of others – particularly those from marginalized communities” if appointed to the bench.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough for U.S. senator Tim Scott of South Carolina – who waited until the very last moment to conspire with fellow centrist “Republican” Marco Rubio of Florida to torpedo Bounds’ nomination. Adding insult to injury, Scott scuttled Bounds’ nomination after voting for cloture on it on July 18 – which is the political equivalent of opening the door for someone with the explicit intention of punching them in the face.
Scott was spoon fed Bounds’ ostensibly “racist” writings by liberal U.S. senator Ron Wyden of Oregon – who was somehow granted access to the “Republican” cloakroom the day after the All-Star game. The seed thus planted, Scott conveniently allowed it to germinate … waiting until the following day to raise his concerns with senate leader Mitch McConnell and the rest of the GOP caucus.
All this after they had scheduled a vote on Bounds …
What a contrast, right? At the precise moment when Hader’s teammates were busy rallying to his defense regarding racist remarks he admittedly made seven years earlier, Scott was backstabbing his own team over quarter-century-old remarks that weren’t even racist to begin with.
“This was rather late of Senator Scott to be raising these issues,” noted David Lat for the website Above the Law. “They’ve been known about for months, Bounds’s confirmation hearing took place on May 9, and he was voted out of committee on June 7. Raising these objections on the day before the confirmation vote put both Senate leadership and Ryan Bounds in a terrible position. As a procedural matter, once the floor vote on the nomination was scheduled, it couldn’t be cancelled or postponed without unanimous consent – meaning that without Scott’s support, the only two possible conclusions were withdrawal of the nomination or an embarrassing defeat on the Senate floor.”
Indeed, these were the only alternatives left for the Senate after Scott and Rubio duplicitously voted to advance Bounds’ nomination.
In other words, the whole thing was a set-up … one intended to deal a body blow to the Trump administration while painting the GOP as racist in the process.
“It’s not what he did it’s the way he did it,” one Beltway insider told us, referring to Scott. “We were backstabbed. And (Scott) treated his colleagues with zero respect. None. If he wanted to make the choice to blow up the ninth circuit nominee, that was his prerogative – he could do that – but he could have done it without trying to make all of us look like a bunch of racists for advancing the nomination.”
FALLOUT FOR SOUTH CAROLINA
Not surprisingly, Scott reaped tremendous positive press for his betrayal.
“He gained a lot of notoriety,” one Beltway lobbyist told us.
Meanwhile Wyden gloated in the aftermath of his coup … bragging about having fed Scott the information and going so far as to tell a hometown reporter that he had saved a memento of the moment Scott delivered the death blow to Bounds’ nomination.
“I found a very influential Republican about a half an hour before the vote and on the back of an executive calendar, I wrote: ‘Are you a no?’ I held it up in front of him,” he boasted to Aaron Mesh of Willamette Week. “And he nodded his head, yes. And that’s when I thought we had really reached critical mass. Someday I’ll tell you and you’ll see it. I just put it in my drawer. It’s one for my kids.”
Obviously there are huge differences between Hader and Bounds.
One is an athlete … an entertainer. And at the risk of invoking the wrath of the “tolerant” let me say this bluntly: There is no racist way to throw a fastball.
You can either throw one or you can’t.
And to be fair, the comparison I’m making here is imprecise. After all, no one is asking Josh Hader to adjudicate the complexities of constitutional claims.
But these twin tales do offer divergent takes on the same basic construct – which I would boil down to a single, elemental interrogatory: When to forgive?
In their youth, both of these men offended (Hader infinitely more so than Bounds). Both apologized for offending. Both affirmed that the statements of their formative years were not representative of the people they ultimately became. Both asked for forgiveness – yet only one received it.
The lesser sinner saw his career ruined … over nothing.
If you live in South Carolina like I do, such inherent unfairness is certainly interesting to consider … but there is a much bigger issue to contemplate regarding the Bounds case. I am referring to he manner in which Scott has conducted himself – and the lasting damage he has done to his relationships in our nation’s capital.
In researching this report, I spoke with numerous sources on and around Capitol Hill who bristled at the conduct of the junior senator from the Palmetto State – who enjoys unrivaled popularity back home (where hardly anyone has heard of his role in the Bounds’ debacle).
Few of these Beltway sources were willing to speak with us on the record, but in the course of our probing it became immediately clear to us that Scott has now crossed some sort of rubicon with many of his colleagues. I was encouraged not to name names – and I won’t – but staffers for two influential senators told me their bosses are done with Scott. Permanently.
“He pissed my boss off for life,” one staffer told me, still seething three weeks after Bounds’ nomination was pulled.
Another was more circumspect … but their wording and tone was ominous for residents of the Palmetto State, who continue to struggle economically and on a host of other fronts in the midst of the “Trump recovery.”
“I don’t think Senator Scott weighed the costs – to himself or his constituents,” the staffer said, hinting that Scott’s handling of the Bounds’ nomination would not only come back to haunt not only him, but those he represents.
Again, no one is arguing Scott’s prerogative here. It was his vote to cast, and he was well within his rights to allow the far left to use him as a pawn in its efforts to keep conservative jurists off the bench – not to mention embarrass Trump and his GOP colleagues. The only question is how much damage did he do to himself in the process?
“He has no idea how much political capital he blew on this,” one D.C. insider told us.
Oh, and before anyone accuses me of being a shill for the GOP-controlled Senate, click here. Same goes for those who might be tempted to say I am spinning for Trump (or his judicial nominees).
My point is simple: The real “teachable moment” in this case is likely to wind up being a hard lesson for Tim Scott – and those he is supposed to be representing.
Will Folks is the editor of the website you are currently reading.
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