Many within President Donald Trump’s administration along with fellow conservatives are at the throat of Stanford University professor Pamela Karlan after she mentioned Trump’s son, Barron, during the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing Wednesday.
Karlan envoked the 13-year-old’s name in a pun about Trump’s abuse of power, saying “the Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he cannot make him a baron.”
This was an unnecessary mention of the child’s name and a definite overstep by the professor, but it does not deserve the exaggerated outrage it has received from many in the conservative community.
First Lady Melania Trump tweeted for the first time regarding the impeachment inquiry after the incident and wrote, “a minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics. Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it.”
Karlan’s mention of Barron certainly seemed like an attempt to grab public, and likely liberal, attention for her witty jab at the president. While Melania is right that an impeachment inquiry is not the time or place to involve a child, this should not be considered a wildly damning act that somehow delegitimizes the professor’s expertise.
Karlan’s words did not defame Barron at all or reference anything other than his name and should not be treated as some sort of slander against the president and his family.
Children of important figures have been involved in politics all too much in the past, including the overreaching of the public in Sasha and Malia Obama’s personal lives, which conservatives were quick to defend and participate in at the time.
Although Karlan was a nonpartisan voice at the hearings, the politicization of this from both ends of the spectrum makes each side hypocritical.
Republicans and conservatives have invaded the privacy of presidential children far beyond an uncharged mention of their names, but Democrats and liberals who have complained about the involvement of children in politics also have no right to characterize conservative reactions as somehow unreasonable.
Karlan eventually apologized during the hearing after Republican Representative Matt Gaetz pressed her on the comment, telling the professor, “[the comment] makes you look mean.”
Characterizing this interaction as a turning point in the impeachment inquiry that somehow exonerates Trump is another clear attempt to distract from the seemingly scathing evidence piling up against the president. Karlan was wrong, but, as she mentioned in her apology at the end of her testimony, so was Trump.