At the House Judiciary Committee’s first impeachment-related hearing earlier today, constitutional law expert Pamela Karlan sent Republicans into a frenzy when she publicly mentioned that the president has a son by the name of Barron.
The noting of the existence of the president’s youngest child came in response to a question from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who asked Karlan about comparisons “between kings that the Framers were afraid of and the president’s conduct today.” Karlan offered the following in response:
Kings could do no wrong, because the king’s word was law. And contrary to what President Trump has said, Article 2 does not give him the power to do anything he wants. And I’ll just give you one example that shows you the difference between him and a king, which is: The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.
It is, admittedly, an awful pun that is nonetheless perfectly clear in its meaning. Most people would have forgotten the bit of wordplay entirely if it weren’t for what happened next.
First came the White House press secretary.
While Grisham’s complaint was a little haphazard (was she mad that people were laughing at a sentence that contained the word Barron or that people were laughing at something related to impeachment?), Melania Trump’s Twitter account jumped in to help streamline the matter.
The first lady firmly believes that a minor child should be kept out of politics, which is why she had no choice but to use her minor child to lash out at her husband’s political foes, for the second time in his presidency. Also livid that someone correctly identified the name of the president’s youngest son was Mike Pence:
How, exactly, this has anything to do with referencing Barron’s name in the process of pointing out that the president cannot grant titles of nobility is unclear.
Charlie Kirk, a good friend of the president’s eldest son (name withheld to protect his privacy) and the founder of college conservative group Turning Point USA, was also very mad.
(In other teenagers-mentioned-in-Congress news, in September, Kirk tweeted that 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg was “a supporter of domestic terrorism.”)
In this case, Kirk doesn’t actually say what the attack is, so we have no choice but to assume Kirk believes that simply acknowledging Barron’s name is an egregious attack in itself, which feels a bit unfair. We here at Slate believe that Barron is a perfectly fine name and look forward to Kirk apologizing for implying otherwise.
Fox News host and woman terrified of glass bottles Laura Ingraham was equally outraged, though not concerned enough to spell Barron Trump’s name correctly.
(In March of last year, Ingraham issued an apology, under pressure from advertisers on her television show, after she taunted the high school senior and Parkland massacre survivor David Hogg about his college rejections.)
Republicans were so insistent on thrusting the president’s young minor 13-year-old school-age child son into the middle of a political firestorm that Rep. Mike Johnson went so far as to enter Melania’s tweet into the congressional record, a feat that he proudly publicized further.
Unsatisfied with Republicans’ already extensive efforts to force the president’s son into a nasty political feud, the Trump campaign also offered its assistance.
Amid all the outrage, Karlan was ultimately forced to offer an apology for, as far as we can tell, reminding the president that he at some point fathered a fifth child. “I want to apologize for what I said earlier about the president’s son,” she said toward the end of the hearing. “It was wrong of me to do that. I wish the president would apologize, obviously, for the things that he’s done that’s wrong, but I do regret having said that.”
If recent history is any lesson, Republicans will be reminding us of this egregious acknowledgment of Barron’s given name until the day we die.