The Trump administration is considering appointing former Baylor president Ken Starr as ambassador-at-large for religious freedom, Foreign Policy reported on Thursday. Starr sounds like the frontrunner for the job, which is a sad thing and a bad idea.
Starr first rose to national prominence for his investigations of Bill Clinton while the latter was president in the 1990s. He’d also been a federal judge and George H.W. Bush’s chief lawyer before the Supreme Court.
In 2010, Starr surfaced as the president at Baylor. The football team there got a lot better over the years Starr was there, becoming a Big 12 power. Then it became the epicenter of a university-wide sexual assault scandal, which led to head coach Art Briles’ firing last May, the removal of Starr as school president shortly thereafter, and his eventual cutting of all ties with the school.
During his downfall, Starr comported himself horribly. He issued a series of non-apology apologies. He told students not to go to off-campus parties, as if drinking, not widespread personal misconduct, was the problem. He said he’d be working on a book about it all.
Previously, a woman emailed Starr and other senior BU officials with the subject line, “I was raped at Baylor” in 2010, but her overture was initially ignored. Starr said in a TV interview, “I’m not denying that I saw it,” then was hustled off camera by a PR aide:
After Starr returned to his interview, he faced the same question about whether he’d seen such an email. The second time, he responded, “I’m honestly going to say, I have no recollection of that.”
A recently filed lawsuit alleges 52 rapes in four years by Baylor football players, all while Starr and Briles were in their jobs at the university.
“Ambassador-at-large for religious freedom” is not a hugely consequential job. It carries no legislative authority, nor would it make Starr the point person for diplomatic relations with any one country. But it’s not meaningless, as the ambassador deals with religious freedom issues all over the world. There have been four such ambassadors.
If President Trump decides Starr is honest and wholesome enough to represent the United States on any sort of global stage, Starr’s spent the last year proving the president incorrect.
That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but it certainly shouldn’t.