Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Leahy was joined in studio by all-star panelist Dr. Carol Swain to discuss her history with Professor Pamela Karlan who recently testified in the impeachment judiciary hearing this week.
During the segment, Swain explained how as a Democrat she was praised and included by fellow liberals but as she questioned things and formulated her own opinions which went against the grain, she was labeled a conservative and shut out.
One of the major things Swain felt isolated her from the liberal pack was her alternative view of affirmative action in which she believed class took precedence over race. She states: “I started being labeled as a conservative with my first book because I was saying that a political party was more important than race. And I disagreed with those who said only blacks could represent blacks.”
Leahy: We are joined in the studio by our very good friend Carol Swain. Carol, good morning.
Swain: Good morning everyone.
Leahy: So, you told me something very interesting and our listeners are going to be delighted to hear your in-person experience with this. You are a former law school professor at Vanderbilt. Very prestigious law school. And you tell me that you know this Pamela Karlan.
Swain: Yes. Back in the 1990s when I was on the faculty of Princeton I wrote a book called Black Faces, Black Interests, the Representation of African Americans in Congress. And that book became part of the voting rights debate. And so even though I was a Democrat, I was on the opposite side with Pam and the liberal activists.
And time wore out my position. And the book won national prizes. It was cited by the Supreme Curt. And so that was my experience. We attended conferences together. I’ve had many conversations with her before she was hired by Stanford, she was at the University of Virginia for a number of years.
Leahy: So, you would be on a panel with her?
Leahy: Describe what those panels were like and what kind of person she was in that interaction with you where you took opposite views.
Swain: I hate to disappoint everyone but she was very nice to me. And of course, people were nice to me. I was the only black person on the panel. (Laughter)
Leahy: But now let’s fast forward. She was nice to you then. Would she be nice to you now that you’re a conservative?
Swain: Everything has changed and the world has turned upside down. So battle lines have been drawn and everyone is hardened. Like at the time I knew her, I was a Democrat. I was not out there. I was just a scholar. I was a scholar doing my research and was not involved in politics. But I was conservative enough that I never got invited to the Clinton White House. (Leahy laughs)
Leahy: But I’m sure she probably did. Did you watch any of those sham wow impeachment informercials yesterday?
Swain: I did. I did. And I was very pleased with Jonathan Turley. He’s someone that I get a blog from him every day. He’s liberal but he’s more of a scholar. He is a scholar. And back when I was on the faculty of Princeton and in the early days of Vanderbilt I was not involved in politics. What I put out there in the world was always scholarly.
Later, I wrote things that were more political with a viewpoint. But when I was doing stuff that had a viewpoint I was very clear that this is my view. What Jonathan Turley did yesterday that the other witnesses didn’t was that he was professional by putting forth scholarly reasoning. What I really regret is there are no consequences for the Left when their scholars deviate from professionalism. They get celebrated.
Leahy: Well, I mean, how could you characterize what Professor Karlan said? What the other guy Noah Feldman from Harvard said? And Michael Gerhardt was the third guy from North Carolina. They all were deviating from scholarship. They all were putting forth their personal opinions and trying to claim that there was some kind of factual foundation for it. That was my take.
Swain: First of all, there really is a Trump derangement syndrome and we saw it on display yesterday. But we also have a situation where the Democrats are so clearly coordinating with their witnesses so that these people when they get up there’s no way that you’re going to get an honest, balanced opinion. Otherwise, they would not even be called to testify.
They’re being called to testify because the Democrats don’t have an impeachment case against the president. So they were hoping that those left-wing scholars with the fancy school titles behind them would help them concoct something that might stay. It’s almost like their throwing things against the wall hoping something will stick.
Leahy: In fact, Representative Matt Gaetz had these comments for your friend I guess you would say. Your former friend. One-time friend.
Leahy: Your colleague. Your one-time colleague thank you. Pamela Karlan. (Clip plays) We’ll get to Matt Gaetz here in a minute. But that is a classic non-apology apology.
Swain: She doesn’t regret. She only regrets that it backfired.
Leahy: You’ve testified in these kinds of settings. Do you think that she kind of had planned this statement?
Swain: I mean when you testify before Congress you have a prepared statement. And so yes, I think she planned it. She thought it would go over well. It backfired and so she issued her fake apology. I was not watching it every moment. But if there was a break, she would have been advised by someone to issue that apology because the Democrats would have known that it wasn’t going over well with the rest of the country.
Leahy: What does it say about the mindset of a professor who knowingly puts this together and thinks this is going to be persuasive?
Swain: Well, I’ll tell you about being a professor.
Leahy: I want to hear about it.
Swain: And I miss it. It was a great gig.
Leahy: Was it a great gig?
Swain: It was a great gig. We get paid for sitting around and coming up with ideas and the more bizarre the better. (Leahy laughs) The rewards are there. Some of the worst ideas in history have come from university campuses. (Leahy chuckles) And people like me, common sense. Raised in the country. What you see is what you get. We can do well but when you start pushing up against the, I don’t know what you would call it…
Leahy: The establishment? Or the existing approved ideology?
Swain: Yes. And early in my career when I was one of them I was celebrated. I won national prizes. I was a hotshot. I got a signing bonus. But once you go against them, and I started going against them on the issue of affirmative action, I always felt it should be means-tested and class-based rather than race-based.
And when that was a big issue in the 1990s and I started expressing my support of class-based affirmative action rather than race-based, everyone turned against me. That was the beginning. But I started being labeled as a conservative with my first book because I was saying that a political party was more important than race. And I disagreed with those who said only blacks could represent blacks.
Leahy: What is your take about the impact of this, how can you say it, this debacle yesterday? How do you see people responding to this?
Swain: Well I mean if the American people saw what took place, and some will but it depends on which television or radio station they listen to, I just think it’s repulsive. And it angers me because I see them attacking the president and accusing him of things that the Democrats actually did to candidate Trump.
And they were the ones that used everything in their power to influence the election. Also on a personal level, I don’t have a bit a problem with what President Trump said in that phone call. The conversation we should be having in this nation is about what the Bidens did and what was taking place in Ukraine because of their corruption.
Leahy: I’m glad you mentioned that because did you see yesterday Peter Doocy on Fox News, Steve’s son a good on the ground political reporter asked Joe Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden a very specific question. Would you voluntarily testify in a Senate impeachment trial? And Joe Biden said, no. What do you make of that?
Swain: Well I mean he knows that he can’t explain or justify all the things that took place. It was corruption at it’s best. But the Democrats are the only ones who can get away with it.
Listen to the second hour:
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Photo “Pamela Karlan” by Stanford Law School.