Monday, September 22, 2003

So once again i see Viet Dinh's name in the news. As it happens, before Viet was on Ken Starr's prosecutorial star chamber, before he wrote the Patriot Act (I'm not joking, he is in fact the author of that particular ineffective abomination), I had the pleasure of having a long dinner and debate with him when he was but a 24 superstar on the rise. AT that point, he was Sandra DAy O'Connor's law clerk, had graduated from law school, and had written a screed on affirmative action and its negative implications that had caused much delight amongst the hard right.

Viet was up for a job with a prestigious law firm (Munger, Tolles and Olson) in downtown LA, and my girlfriend's father had invited him to a dinner with the partners. Foolishly, i was invited along with my girlfriend. I went and read Viet's affirmative action article--it was risibly polemical with little independent thought or analysis--a basic partisan hack job. I guess that he was young and a prodigy and an immigrant (vietnamese, obviously) made the righties care overmuch about the article, but i didn't get it. so at the dinner, which was supposed to be a "kiss viet's ass fest", i engaged him on his views. I asked, "have you considered that perhaps white folk get some help from legacy admissions policies at universities?". No, he said, hadn't thought of that. Huh. I asked him about job nepotism--the old boy's network tends to bring in those that are its like--e.g. white folk, in the main. No, he hadn't thought of that either. I asked him to look around at the partners of MT and O--notice anything, Viet? Bunch of white men looking to hire one semi-dark skinned right-winger to give "balance"--did that bother him? at this point well over 15,000 dollars per hour of lawyer were staring bullets at me, but the Petrus was flowing and i wasn't backing down. I told Viet that a college drop out could rip mile wide holes through his argument while drunk, and given how obviously brilliant he was, this was a sad statement on what unadulterated ideological rigidity could do to anyone.

He sort of acknowleged my point. I felt like a winner.

later, i decided to try to produced movies. He impeached a president and rewrote the constitution. i guess i didn't win so much.