Malaka Of The Week: Chuck Grassley

Judge Judy Koh and Senator Grassley.

Senator Chuck Grassley is 88 years old. He was first elected to the senate in the 1980 Reagan wave election. He recently announced that he was running again. This week, he made an ass out of himself at a confirmation hearing. You know what they say: Old bigots never die, they just run for reelection. And that is why Chuck Grassley is malaka of the week.

Grassley is the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee. As Chairman, he was the cranky cuss presiding over the Kavanaugh freak show. When Malaka Chuck is vexed, his lips purse and his head veins throb. That happened a lot during the Kavanaugh mess. Unlike Justice Bro, Grassley never told us whether he likes beer. I do too. How about you?

Grassley is not known for thinking before he speaks. He’s something of a gaffe machine. He once said that women didn’t want to serve on the Judiciary Committee because the work was hard, and the hours long. He crawfished on that gaffe by urging women to serve on that Committee:

“…because women as a whole are smarter than most male senators. And they work real hard, too.”

That’s nice, I guess.

Malaka Chuck is one of those people who thinks trafficking in ethnic stereotypes is okay as long as they’re positive stereotypes. That brings me to the confirmation hearing for Judge Lucy Koh, a Biden nominee, who will be the first Korean American to serve as an appellate court judge.

I’m fond of how Nicole Lafond described the action at TPM:

Koh, who was born in Washington, D.C., had just finished giving a statement about her heritage and her mother, who escaped from North Korea. She also spoke at length about her childhood growing up surrounded by poverty in Mississippi, according to HuffPost, which was the first to report on the exchange.

Grassley then responded telling Koh that her story reminded him of something his daughter-in-law, who is also Korean American, had told him — that Korean people have “a hard work ethic” and “can make a lot out of nothing.”

“So I congratulate you and your people,” Grassley said.

Koh, who has served as a district judge in California for more than a decade, replied by saying, “thank you.” Sigh.

That’s called a backhand compliment or damning with faint praise. Trafficking in *any* kind of stereotype is pernicious and racist. It’s like the Philo-Semitism I described the other day.

Here’s what Judy Chu the chair of the House Asian Pacific American Caucus told the Huff Post after the Grassley gaffe:

“Treating all members of a group as the same invites mistreatment when one person can be held accountable for the actions of someone else. It may not be the same incitement to violence seen in other slurs, but it is harmful none the less,”

At least Malaka Chuck didn’t tell Judge Koh how much he liked Kimchi even though it gave him gas. Food is often raised in this context. Someone once asked me how “my people” were able to work with filo, which is thin and tricky. One could call that Filo-Hellenism…

Senator Grassley had a busy week on the malakatude front. As the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, he’s responsible for the minority report on Trump’s attempt to coerce the Justice Department into supporting the Big Lie. Their verdict can be summed up as follows: No Harm, No Foul. The coup plot failed so it was no big whoop. Oy, just oy.

Former senate staffer Lawrence O’Donnell said it best:

The tragedy of the Republican staff report is that it shows you how deep the cancer is in the Republican Party. It has not just spread to men in their 70s and 80s like Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley. It is now completely consuming Republicans in Washington who are half the age of those men and younger. There could be future senators working on that Republican committee staff, future members of the House, future White House chiefs of staff.

Chuck Grassley has repeatedly gotten a pass over the years for his ignorance and insensitivity. When he was younger, it was written off because he was a “blunt and plain-spoken” Iowan. In 2021, it’s because he’s elderly. Besides, bigotry is big in the GOP. And that is why Senator Chuck Grassley is malaka of the week.

The last word goes to a song from The Music Man:

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