Verdict on Arnick: The man should not be a judge


February 15, 1993|By MIKE LITTWIN

There are many tough issues before us. The John Arnick issue isn't among them.

The Arnick issue is easy.

You don't need to be Solomon to figure this one out. You don't even need to be as smart as William Donald Schaefer.

John Arnick should not be a judge. You know that. I know that. The only people who don't seem to know that are the guv, a bunch of Maryland senators and some of their lobbyist pals.

Let's try this axiom on for size: Nobody who calls women "bimbos" and "lying bitches" and one well-known anatomical vulgarity so ugly we can't even put in the paper could ever be a good judge.

You say these things in public and you're out. It's that simple. And to make it even easier, Arnick apparently used these terms in reference to spousal-abuse victims. Real judge material, huh?

Come on. Arnick doesn't even deny the charges (he says he can't remember; these guys never can). Even many of the people who support him believe he said these things. Have you heard anyone call Judy Wolfer, his accuser, a liar?

Here's the deal: Apparently everyone believes she's telling the truth, and yet a Senate committee recommends Arnick, the veteran legislator and influential pol, by a 14-4 vote. Here's a surprising statistic: All 14 yea votes are cast by men.

I'm guessing what happened is that the senators didn't want to get into an Anita Hill-type situation by questioning the integrity of Wolfer and others who testified. They listened and then basically said the women's testimony wasn't important. They got it. They just didn't care.

What we're seeing in Annapolis is the old-boy network at its oh-boy worst.

The thing is, Arnick is irrelevant. Arnick is much like Al Campanis, the baseball executive who said blacks didn't have the necessities to manage. Campanis never thought he was a racist. Arnick probably doesn't think he has a problem with women. He's one of those old-line guys whose time is past and doesn't understand. So, make him judge, right?

Of course it's absurd. But a more basic issue is the people who make the laws in the state of Maryland and their overweening arrogance.

Ordinarily, I'm not a believer in single-issue politics. Legislators need to have room to vote their consciences. We need to take the sum of our representatives.

But this, it seems to me, is different.

Let's try another axiom: Anyone who votes for Arnick either does not vote his conscience or does not have one. In either instance, that should disqualify you as a legislator.

If you vote for Arnick, you don't belong in the state Senate. You belong on the street. I'm hoping people will write down the names of those who vote to confirm. Clip and save for the next election day.

I'm telling you, this is easy. This is draw-by-the-numbers easy.

This is out-of-touch government at its out-of-kilter worst. This is government by elitist legislators who don't give a damn about anyone except their own little group.

What about the hearings? That should tell you something. They were a joke. Only one senator asked tough questions. And now there are stories that a Schaefer aide, who would have testified that Arnick called her a dumb blond and often massaged her neck, was pressured not to appear.

And then there are the women in the Senate. I should ask: Where are the women in the Senate? The women's caucus still hasn't revoked its endorsement of Arnick. What progress. Now we have an old-boy, old-girl network.

Yes, some of the women senators are beginning to oppose Arnick. That's wonderful. What courage. They back down when the phone calls start coming in, when the how-dare-you questions begin. How about when it took some guts?

I love the people who say it was just a verbal indiscretion. That's a nice phrase, but what if Arnick had used the "n" word in front of some African-American lobbyists? Would anyone be saying it was a verbal indiscretion and shouldn't count against 30 years of public service? No. They'd say the guy can't be a judge.

This is the exact same thing. If what Wolfer says is true, then a powerful man went about trying to intimidate women. This is not about an indiscretion. This is about an attitude.

Look, Arnick was a legislator for 30 years, was majority leader in the House for years and then he retired. So, if you like the guy, you give him a gold watch. You don't make him a judge.

The vote is set for tomorrow.

It's an easy vote. Watch, you'll see how easy.

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