A Problem of Racism on the Senate Judiciary Committee?

Two days after the first national celebration of Juneteenth, you probably thought we were past the time when United States senators, particularly on the Judiciary Committee charged with helping to guarantee civil rights, would be members of fancy all-white clubs.  Indeed, until just now, I wasn’t aware that all-while clubs still existed.

Time to wake up.  Meet Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, former US Attorney for Rhode Island and now Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action, and Federal Rights.

From the NY Post, this eye-opener:

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse is facing new scrutiny over his decades-long membership in an all-white private beach club, as he bills himself as a progressive and prominent critic of “systemic racism” — dismissing membership based on race as “a long tradition in Rhode Island.”

Whitehouse (D-RI) was confronted Friday by a GoLocal Providence reporter, who published the video along with an article on Saturday detailing what occurred after asking about the senator’s membership at Newport-based Bailey’s Beach Club, part of the Spouting Rock Beach Association.

“I think the people who are running the place are still working on that and I’m sorry it hasn’t happened yet,” the progressive pol told the reporter after being asked of the club’s lack of any diversity whatsoever.

Asked if such clubs should continue to exist at a time when the country is having a racial reckoning, Whitehouse replied, “It’s a long tradition in Rhode Island, and there are many of them.”

Anyone care to take a guess what the reaction would have been if Jeff Sessions had given an answer like that at his confirmation to be Attorney General (not that Sessions ever belonged to an all-white club to begin with)?

“And I think we just need to work our way through the issues,” he added before leaving the scene.

For sure, “work our way through the issues.”  When I woke up this morning, I thought it was 2021, not 1961.

While Whitehouse appeared to dismiss the club’s circumstances, his wife, Sandra Whitehouse, is one of the three largest shareholders in the club.

When the Rhode Island senator, who was first elected in 2006, initially ran for his office, he disavowed his membership and pledged to quit the club…

GoLocal [a Rhode Island newpaper] pressed Whitehouse and his office over his membership multiple times in 2017, noting that more than a decade had passed since his unkept campaign promise.

After the lawmaker repeatedly declined requests for comment on his involvement in the club, a GoLocal reporter confronted Whitehouse at a Newport-based event in late August of that year.

“I think it would be nice if they changed a little bit, but it’s not my position,” the left-wing senator told the outlet.

No, it’s not his position.  It’s George Wallace’s position.  Not that George Wallace could ever afford a club like this.

Asked if he intended to pressure the club to do better on diversity, Whitehouse replied, “I will take that up privately,” before declining to comment on the matter further.