Conservative commentator Ed Whelan has attacked President Obama's judicial nominee Goodwin Liu, who is having a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, in several recent blog posts. He has even created a “one-stop repository” of his attacks on Liu. There's not much new to the attacks. You can read them if you want. For factual rebuttal, you can look here, here, and here.
But what is amazing is how clearly Whelan's attempt to paint Liu as out-of-the-mainstream succeeds only at showing how out-of-the-mainstream Whelan is himself.
In order to attack Liu, Whelan has had to claim that Kenneth Starr -- former federal judge, former solicitor general, and of course former Whitewater special counsel -- was “badly confused” in a letter he wrote supporting Liu.
But that's not all. Whelan has also gone after former George W. Bush ethics attorney Richard Painter who has written a post in favor of Liu. Painter notes that he “worked to get” Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito confirmed. Whelan calls Painter's defense of Liu “shoddy,” “badly flawed,” and said it is based in part on “ill-informed or utterly conclusory endorsements of Liu” from “some conservative who ought to know better.”
Engaging in a bit of mind-reading to divine Painter's reasons for supporting Liu, Whelan surmises that Painter is “evidently suffering a case of battered-conservative-academic syndrome.”
Painter and Starr aren't the only conservative scholars supporting Liu. Former Bush Justice Department official John Yoo, Goldwater Institute director Clint Bolick, and George W. Bush Institute official James Guthrie have also voiced support for him, as have former Secretary of Transportation William T. Coleman Jr. and former Rep. Tom Campbell (who ran against Carly Fiorina last year for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate from California).
So are Starr, Painter, Yoo, Bolick, and the other conservatives all “badly confused” or not paying sufficient attention to Liu's record? Or is Whelan just plain wrong? The answer seems pretty simple.