Sometimes, if a word is used over and over again in the wrong way, it starts to lose its meaning. Take the word "guys," for example. It's now completely normal to say, "hey guys," to a group of people, even if there isn't a man in sight. It's a verbal tic that feels comfortable and gets an intention across, even if it's technically wrong.
Yesterday, the Washington Times added to its witch hunt of President Obama's appointees by accusing David Hamilton, a Seventh Circuit nominee, of being "a radical's radical," based on a lot of misleading information. This is nothing new--the Times has been on the front line of attacking Obama's appointees, and it seems that they know only one word to describe them: "radical." Since January, Times editorials have used the word "radical" to describe at least 11 advisers or nominees, and in some cases, on multiple occasions. For example, according to the editorials:
- Kevin Jennings, Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, has a "record of putting his radical agenda before everything else," is a "dangerous radical" and "has made extremely radical statements promoting homosexuality in schools and about his utter contempt for religion that render him unsuitable for a prestigious White House appointment."
- Van Jones, a former White House adviser, has a "radical recent history." Also, "since taking office, Mr. Obama has surrounded himself with some of the most extreme radicals from the far-left fringe," and "[o]ne of these radicals is Van Jones."
- Dawn Johnsen, nominee for Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, is "one of the country's most radical abortion proponents," and "[h]opefully, Democrats and Republicans can come together to filibuster this radical."
- By picking Rosa Brooks to be an adviser to Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Obama "is surrendering national security with a radical appointment at the Defense Department."
- Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor "seems to be the most radical person ever nominated for the high court," some of her "radical positions are outside the mainstream of American public opinion," and "many on the left are insulted that Judge Sotomayor has run away from her radical record to appear more moderate during her Senate confirmation hearings."
- Because Obama nominated Louis Butler to a federal court,"[i]f, in the future, a historian seeks the first proof positive that President Obama was intent on seeding the lower federal courts with radicals, the answer may well be that Butler did it."
Then, there was the mother lode: On October 13, the Times published an "administration of radicals" editorial, which it billed as a "dishonor roll" of administration officials. The top honors went to familiar targets Jennings, Jones, Sotomayor, and Butler, but it also named Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren, White House adviser Tom Daschle, State Department legal adviser Harold Koh, White House adviser Ezekiel Emanuel, and National Intelligence Council nominee Charles W. Freeman Jr.
If the Times' editorial writers are going to smear basically every appointee the Obama administration can come up with, they should probably find a new word to throw around. This one is becoming meaningless.