Democrats close to California Gov. Gavin Newsom call Caitlyn Jenner the gift that keeps on giving.

Republicans just hold their heads. Some argue that after months of tedious signature gathering, the effort to recall Newsom is fizzling, and not just because vaccines are available on a walk-in basis and California is headed for herd immunity.

My father taught me that "you can't beat a horse with no horse."

No horse would be better than the candidate who is occupying the spotlight.

In keeping with the last season of "Keeping up with the Kardashians," Caitlyn Jenner, of Kylie and Kendall fame, is casting herself as a transgender "role model" in her campaign for California governor.

The hijacking of the electoral process by a has-been celebrity is offensive in its own right, but especially so in Jenner's case. Everyone in Hollywood and Kardashianland should understand: She is playing to the right-wing to get attention.

It is bad enough that she has no idea what she is talking about and doesn't care to even study Government 101. A few weeks ago, she went after one of "Gavin's District Attorneys" for not prosecuting a case because the alleged victim of domestic violence refuses to cooperate. Problem No. 1: DAs are elected by county voters, not appointed by the governor. Problem No. 2: The DA's office she was attacking, like every DA's office in the 21st century, recognizes that an alleged victim's failure to cooperate is not a block to prosecution. Were it otherwise, victims could face an extra beating on account of it. We've been talking about this in victims' rights circles for 40 years.

Even worse was her interview with Sean Hannity, during which she complained that homelessness is driving people out of Los Angeles. Speaking to Hannity from her private airplane hangar, she said: "(T)he guy right across -- he was packing up his hangar, and I said, 'Where are you going?' And he says, 'I'm moving to Sedona, Arizona. I can't take it anymore. I can't walk down the streets and see the homeless.'"

Where the laughing stops is when Jenner presents herself as a role model for trans youth as she stokes the fires of ignorance and hate to get attention.

Rachel Levine made the news for a day when she became the first openly transgender person to be confirmed by the Senate.

But Jenner is getting all the press, not only because of her famous family but because she has become the most famous supporter of the effort to ban trans girls from playing girls sports.

In 34 states, legislation has been introduced to do just that. Jenner terms it "a question of fairness" and says, "That's why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls sports in school."

In fact, there is no evidence that trans girls are hijacking sports in any of these states, or in colleges or professional sports. Vilifying trans girls has taken the place, at least temporarily, of abortion and same-sex marriage as a wedge issue used to divide and conquer. Even where the legislation fails, a "no" vote by a Republican can be an invitation to a primary challenge.

When given the opportunity to clarify her stance on Hannity's show, she said: "I stick with my statements that I made. I think we have to make sure that the integrity of girls sports is there."

The "integrity of girls sports" is not at risk. The lives of trans youth are. Singling them out in Little League, excluding them from school teams, sends the message that trans kids are different in ways that justify their exclusion. And it does so as a matter of law.

That is called discrimination, violating a person's right to be treated equally. Long ago, the Supreme Court recognized its special responsibility under the Constitution to protect "discrete and insular minorities" from the tyranny of the majority, or the tyranny of a noisy and cruel faction.

"For me, as a trans woman, I think role models are extremely important for young people," Jenner said. "Trans issues people struggle with big time. Our suicide rate is nine times higher than the general public. And for me to be a role model for them, to be out there ... I am running for governor of the state of California. Who would have ever thought that?"

Nobody would have thought that, because she has no business claiming the spotlight. Kim Kardashian is reportedly studying law. It's time Jenner consulted with her about the 14th Amendment.



Susan Estrich can be reached at sestrich@wctrib.com.

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