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Wednesday, September 13, 2006 

Mr. Nice Guy

How Appealing links to this story in the New York Observer about Viet Dinh. Dinh is a former Assistant Attorney General and currently a law professor at Georgetown Law. Everyone loves this guy...
Only the night before, Mr. Dinh had participated in Ted Koppel's live town-hall meeting on "The Price of Security," and when the show ended and the cameras were still rolling, Mr. Dinh appeared to embrace Lanny Davis, President Clinton's special counsel.

Mr. Dinh, lawyerly sensation of the nation's capital, has also earned the affection of Clinton family enemies-as when he served on Alphonse D'Amato's Whitewater Committee, or later on Senator Pete Domenici's impeachment-trial squad.

"I may have hugged Lanny Davis," Mr. Dinh said. "I always hug [conservative lawyer] Ted Olson and [ACLU executive director] Anthony Romero."

In a town like Washington, it scarcely needs saying, everyone's in the game together, no matter what side of the aisle. But few have made themselves so prodigiously amiable as Mr. Dinh, even while engaging in hazardous work like helping to impeach popular Presidents and author government wiretap policies.
Dinh seems to have a way about him that puts people at ease. It's hard to ignore his incredible life story. He came to the U.S. from Vietnam on a boat with his family. From there...
After some months in a refugee camp, the Dinhs were sent to Portland, Ore. The family picked strawberries for menial wages, but when Mount St. Helens erupted, the crop damage was so severe that the family relocated to Fullerton in Southern California. There, Mr. Dinh worked alongside his mother in a sewing shop and flipped burgers after school. He earned a scholarship to Harvard and then attended Harvard Law School.
After law school, he clerked for Judge Laurence Silberman, a Reagan appointee, whose alumni network of mostly conservative lawyers form a tight clique. The next year, he clerked for Sandra Day O'Connor.
Dinh then worked for News Corp., as well as in Washington during the Clinton impeachment, and at Georgetown. It's unlikely that Dinh's career will end there...
While some view Mr. Dinh's knack for coming off well as a sign of his political acuity-he is frequently fingered as a possible Supreme Court nominee in some future Republican administration-others see evidence of his entrepreneurialism.
I have been a strong supporter of nominating Dinh to an appeals court, possibly the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. I'm interested to see what kind of judge that he would be. If he does well, then I think that he would be an excellent Supreme Court nominee for three reasons.

Viet Dinh

First is the racial issue. Let's not kid ourselves. Racial politics are extremely important in Supreme Court nominations. If Dinh was the first Asian American nominated to the Court, he would be hard to oppose. Second is his personality. It will go a long way and help him a lot. Look at John Roberts' confirmation hearing. Roberts has a similar likable, nice guy personality. He came across incredibly well on television, which is important for public opinion. I think that Dinh would come across in a similar manner. Third is his age. Dinh is only 38 now. He could get a decade of experience on a court and still be fairly young, in Supreme Court Justice terms. Dinh is a rising legal star and should be watched.

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