Announcing a few weeks ago his nomination of Connecticut state Supreme Court Justice Andrew J. McDonald for chief justice, Gov. Dannel Malloy celebrated the nominee's sexual orientation as if it was the highest qualification for the job. This suggestion was echoed by fellow Democrats in the General Assembly.
To hear them tell it now, McDonald's sexual orientation killed his nomination in the state Senate and almost killed it in the state House.
But if the governor and his allies really thought that prejudice against homosexuals was so pervasive in Connecticut, they would not have made such a big deal of McDonald's sexual orientation at the outset.
They did it in part to move discussion of the nomination away from the policy issues it raised: McDonald's record as a legislator, gubernatorial aide, and judge, and particularly his participation in the Supreme Court's ruling that capital punishment is unconstitutional.
But the governor and his allies also emphasized McDonald's sexual orientation because their party, the perpetrator of identity politics, knows that these days there is great political power in victimhood. They knew that the more they emphasized McDonald's sexual orientation, the more they could intimidate people out of criticism.
With Democrats today, anyone disputing a person of color or member of an ethnic minority risks being called a racist, anyone disputing a woman risks being called a misogynist, and anyone disputing someone in a same-sex relationship risks being called a "homophobe."
Of course "homophobia" was disproved by the bipartisan endorsement that McDonald received from the legislature five years ago when, his sexual orientation fully known, he was nominated as associate justice. What happened since then is no mystery. He developed a record on the court, Malloy's prestige collapsed, and his promotion of McDonald was seen as extreme cronyism.
McDonald's supporters were reluctant to debate his record. Their most relevant rejoinder was only that court decisions should not be questioned by the Great Unwashed, as if judges themselves don't question and reverse each other and as if McDonald's own supporters don't advocate reversing recent decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The victimhood racket failed with McDonald, if partly for the wrong reasons -- a Democratic senator's personal conflict with him and another Democratic senator's weariness of the governor's political correctness and arrogance. But the governor is doubling down, making the bigotry charge against even the Democratic legislators who opposed McDonald, not just the Republicans. The governor says he would not vote for any legislator who voted against McDonald.
So maybe while frothing the governor will add that those Democratic legislators should be expelled from the party and driven into the Republican caucuses. While that would flip both chambers to Republican majorities, the governor would have cleansed his party of "homophobes."
The governor and Democratic legislators are expressing sympathy for McDonald on account of his supposed mistreatment. McDonald himself issued a maudlin statement emphasizing his sexual orientation. He said he didn't know what the future holds for him.
But for starters he retains his judgeship, his salary of $186,000, and great benefits, and after many years of employment in the legislature, governor's office, and judiciary, having risen to the top of Connecticut politics despite the supposed burden of his sexual orientation, he will be due a fat pension and gold-plated medical insurance for life. Oh, the oppression.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer, based in Manchester, Conn.