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Friday, May 20, 2005

Boxer's Rebellion

The junior senator from California may be small in stature, but her mighty opinions more than make up for her limited verticality. Barbara Boxer, for whom women and African Americans are invisible unless they declare themselves victims, has encountered a black woman she can't quite bring into view. "Out of the mainstream." That's Senator Boxer's mantra against Justice Rogers Brown's nomination for the D.C. Court of Appeals. Well. California voters have had the opportunity to pass electoral judgment on both women. Janice Rogers Brown was re-confirmed to the California Supreme Court by 76 percent of voters, compared with 58 percent for Barbara Boxer. Who's further from the mainsream by this count? In the World According to Barbara Boxer, there aren't supposed to be any Janice Rogers Browns complicating the pristine horizons of identity politics. In order to be successful, Janice Rogers Brown is supposed to need Barbara Boxer to explain why Brown isn't supposed to be able to succeed on her own. There's no evidence that Brown has called Boxer for a leg up. To the contrary: "If my family had a motto, it would be 'Don't snivel,'" Brown says. That viewpoint puts Brown way outside Boxer's worldview. It also helps explain why Boxer's opposition to Brown has become so furious, and so seemingly personal, almost vindictive. The mighty Boxer needs people to see themselves as permanent victims, so Boxer can continuously come to their rescue. Brown errs by not viewing herself as a victim, and not needing to be rescued. Senator Boxer to Justice Brown: "Couldn't you just snivel — a little? Then I'll back off a bit..."