Chuck Schumer recommended an openly gay lawyer, Daniel Alter, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, who'd be the first openly gay judge to serve on a federal court. Obama rejected that nominee, and unnamed sources cited two quotations to the Washington Blade:
In a 2005 article published by Cybercast News Service, Alter is quoted as saying that a general holiday greeting is more appropriate and inclusive for retailers as opposed to saying "Merry Christmas."
"It seems both from a business ... and a community perspective, that if merchandisers were going to do that ... they would try to wish those in the community who may not share in celebrating Christmas a happy holiday as well," Alter is quoted as saying.
"Our diversity has made us great and will continue to make us great and ['Merry Christmas'] undermines both the holiday spirit as well as the message I think Americans should be sending to each other," Alter reportedly continued.
And on the pledge:
Additionally, in a 2004 article published in The New Republic, Alter is quoted as saying the U.S. Supreme Court case Elk Grove United School District v. Newdow "was a good case at the wrong time." The case challenged use of the "under God" phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools.
The article reported Alter was "relieved" the Supreme Court decision "left open a window for future challenges." The Anti-Defamation League had filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the Newdow case.
"When the right case does come along," Alter reportedly said, "We're there."
The Blade article cites a former employer saying that those were misquotes, and it's not like CNS is known for its journalistic scruples. Who knows.
But even if those quotations are correct, they're hardly controversial. The War on Christmas stuff may have died down a little last year, but just a few years ago it was a ginned up controversy, built on lies about towns banning the color green and rightwing demagogues getting people miffed about the fact that they weren't being recognized as Christian as they entered corporate establishments (and it's easy to recognize them as such since everyone's either Christian or should be). It was a new level of stupid in American discourse, a level that I don't think many people on the left were ready for, that was fundamentally about showing who belongs in this country and who doesn't. Of course the ADL would respond - it was built on both hippie-hatred and anti-semitism.
If the Blade's sources know what they're talking about, then this really just shows what we already knew about this White House: they're so concerned with avoiding even the appearance of supporting the left or liberals that they'll bend to the far right. It's strange, but in the US almost everyone hates whoever's to the left of them for some reason, and they usually get a lot more worked up about them than they do about people who are to the right of them. It explains why the tea baggers seem so angry - almost the whole country is to the left of them.
I'm not going to rally for Alter, though. I don't know much about how he'd be as a judge, but if a Wall Street Dem like Chuck Schumer would recommend him and try to make it about his sexuality instead of his qualifications, then he's probably not a friend to the cause. Still, I'd rather a judge get rejected for being too far to the right than for being a decent human being who possibly got Brietbarted. But when has any proposal been rejected in the last decade in Washington for not being liberal enough?