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Frank Ricci: The Left's Newest Target By: Gregory Gethard
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, July 17, 2009

Frank Ricci, are you ready for the spotlight?

On Thursday, Ricci testified before the Judiciary Committee to discuss the reasons why he brought Ricci vs. DeStefano all the way to the Supreme Court. The Left appreciate the threat he poses to Sonia Sotomayor, the self-described “Affirmative Action Baby,” judicial activist, and confirmed believer in identity politics President Obama appointed to the Supreme Court. The Left has done what it always does to a philosophical challenge: poison the well and besmirch the personal life of its opponent.

According to McClatchy, the left-wing lobbyist group People for the American Way last week sent out an e-mail urging media members to report on Ricci’s legal history. Senator Orrin Hatch, a member of the Judiciary Committee, noted this was part of the organization’s attempts to smear Ricci. As though taking orders from the Left, Yahoo.com’s top headline last Thursday was: “Sotomayor debate isn’t firefighter’s first legal battle.” The article discusses Ricci’s past; he filed a lawsuit against New Haven in 1995 alleging he was not named a firefighter due to his dyslexia. Ricci also filed a complaint with Connecticut’s Department of Labor, claiming he was fired by the fire department because he raised concerns about safety when working as a firefighter in Middletown, CT. (A settlement was reached in his lawsuit. The Department of Labor dismissed the complaint against the fire department, which was eventually fined for safety violations.)

Ricci became famous as the plaintiff in Ricci v. DeStefano, the fireman who sued the New Haven, Connecticut, fire department to enforce merit-based promotions. The Second Court of Appeals, on which Sonya Sotomayor sat, issued an unsigned decision against him. The Supreme Court embarrassed Sotomayor on the eve of her Senate hearings by overturning that decision without a single justice siding with Sotomayor's reasoning. 

Sotomayor’s leftist supporters cannot defend her decision, so they have placed Ricci in their targets. But Ricci is only the most recent front of the Left's assault on private citizens who get in the way. Leftist Democrats have shown in recent years they excel in responding to philosophical arguments with personal smears.

Just months ago, America was introduced to Joe Wurzelbacher, soon dubbed “Joe The Plumber,” one of the more memorable personalities from the 2008 campaign. And Wurzelbacher soon found out what it is like to be treated by the left.

After Wurzlebacher’s unwitting rise to fame, Helen Jones-Kelly, then the head of the Department of Job and Family Services accessed classified government databases to determine if he had any unpaid child support payments. After the state’s inspector general ruled that the searches were “a wrongful act,” Jones-Kelly, appointed to her post by the state’s Democratic governor, resigned.

Wurzelbacher also found himself as the main subject in a variety of media investigations. The New York Times revealed that Wurzelbacher never obtained his plumber’s license and also had a lien on his house due to unpaid taxes. The paper of record also speculated about his personal income, writing an in-depth article speculating about his personal income, largely as a defense of Obama’s tax plan:

    If Joe’s business is less successful than he claims (which it probably is), then it likely won’t see a tax increase under Senator Obama’s plan — and in that respect, is a more relevant model for most Americans who own small businesses.

And, soon, Wurzelbacher found himself routinely criticized by the Obama team. Current Vice President Joe Biden also took the time to discuss him at length during the campaign, saying on NBC’s Today Show:

    John [McCain] continues to cling to the notion of this guy Joe the Plumber. I don't have any Joe the plumbers in my neighborhood that make $250,000 a year. The Joe the plumbers in my neighborhood, the Joe the cops in my neighborhood, the Joe the grocery store owners in my neighborhood, they make, like 98 percent of the small businesses, less than $250,000 a year.

Real estate information website estimated that Biden’s house cost over $2.85 million, and Biden’s personal income was over $300,000 in 2008, according to tax documents. Few plumbers, cops, or grocers lived in his zip code. Biden aimed simply to discredit Joe personally.

As written about previously on FrontPage Magazine, Sarah Palin has also felt the wrath of the Left since becoming a national figure. While being a potential presidential candidate certainly opens her up to criticisms about her policies, having to fend off repeatedly filed politically motivated official complaints, aimed at discrediting her character while emptying out her bank accounts, is over the line. Just this past week, yet another ethics complaint was filed against her; the person filing this report has done so four previous times to no avail. Thus far, not a single charge levied against her has proven to have any merit. Palin’s family has been targeted by the most ludicrous charges, including whether or not Palin gave birth to her mentally handicapped son. Most find this disgusting. Congressman Barney Frank described smearing Palin's family another way: fair game. They’re the ones that made an issue of her family, hBarney Frank said.

The Left meted out the same treatment to Kathleen Willey and Monica Lewinsky, the two women who came perilously close to destroying the Clinton White House. On the day after Willey went on 60 Minutes to discuss credible allegations that President Clinton raped her, Clinton’s team released letters she wrote to the president in an attempt to discredit her. She filed a complaint about a violation of her privacy, which two courts upheld. It was the Clinton administration that claimed violation of privacy when the Lewinsky story broke. Christopher Hitchens testified under oath that White House advisor Sidney Blumenthal called Lewinsky a “stalker,” despite Blumenthal denying under oath that he talked about the issue with the media.

Before the most recent CIA scandal about nothing, Vice President Dick Cheney vigorously defended Bush administration counterterrorism policies President Obama set about repealing. The Left's response was to repeatedly reference his accidental shooting of a hunting partner years earlier, a day Cheney has called “one of the worst days of my life.” Responding to Cheney's criticisms of Obama, Bill Clinton said Obama and his wife would prove to have better aim. According to Fox News, Clinton grinned and pretended he was shooting a pistol when he said the word 'aim.'

Now that Frank Ricci is in the gun sights of the Left, at least he finds himself in good company.

Gregory Gethard is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer.

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