The storyline has now taken a new, absurd turn with Republican operatives in the press claiming that Sen. Patrick Leahy, during today's Judge Sonia Sotomayor hearings, "lied" when referencing the quote today. Will the press let conservatives get away with the spin? Even money says, and how!
Leahy's Wise Latina Lie [Robert Alt]
After accusing Republicans of twisting Sotomayor's quote, Leahy then misquotes her, saying that she said that she "hopes a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would reach wise decisions." Of course, that's not what she said. What she actually said was: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." Leahy conveniently distorted "better," a word that Sotomayor is obviously trying to distance herself from.
The irony here is pretty much inescapable. Conservatives, with plenty of help from the press, have been purposefully mangling the meaning of Sotomayor's "Latina woman" quote for months now, claiming the judge made a "racist" statement about how a minority on the bench would make better decision than a white male on every case brought before them. That's not what she said.
Yet now conservatives are crying foul because Leahy accurately summed up the meaning of the Sotomayor quote, although used slightly different wording to so. Sadly, I'm guessing the press, which has already gone all in on the "Latina woman" misinformation, will simply echo the GOP claims about Leahy.
Here's Washington Post reporter Paul Kane:
Biden and Kennedy have had their share of mishaps over the last 30 years, drawing plenty of criticism from conservatives.
During the 2006 hearings for Justice Samuel Alito, Kennedy forced the proceedings to stop in a long-shot effort to turn up evidence that the nominee was part of a secretive alumni club at Princeton University that was engaged in insensitive behavior, a charge that was never borne out.
Uh ... what?
The evidence that Alito was part of Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP) is pretty strong. After all, Alito bragged about his membership in CAP when he was applying for a job in the Reagan administration.
And the evidence that CAP "engaged in insensitive behavior" is pretty strong, too. CAP did, after all, try to limit the number of women and minorities allowed at Princeton.
There is no doubt that Alito belonged to CAP. None. Alito himself said he did. There is no doubt that CAP engaged in insensitive behavior. None. What on earth is Paul Kane talking about?
From the front-page of The Fox Nation:
Chris Matthews, on the wise Latina/empathy/background "issue":
Suppose a white guy had said 'I bring to this court application, when I submit to you my qualifications to be a justice on the Supreme Court, I bring to you street smarts and common sense, earned after years of dealing with the law.' Would that pass muster?
Why would we suppose that? Why wouldn't we instead suppose a white guy had said "When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account"?
That's pretty directly analogous to Sotomayor's comments. And it has benefit of not being a supposition, but rather white guy Sam Alito's actual statement during his confirmation hearings. And it passed muster, as the very people who are now criticizing Sotomayor enthusiastically supported Alito.
From Joseph Curl's July 14 Washington Times column:
Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, did not take a clear stand on the balls-and-strikes issue, but did bring up a bitter defeat for his party stretching all the way back to 2001.
"No Republican would have chosen you, judge, that's just the way it is," he said to Judge Sotomayor, who looked at times as if she were on the verge of tears. "We would have picked Miguel Estrada," a Honduran-born judge who was President George W. Bush's nominee for the Court of Appeals and became the first-ever appellate court hopeful blocked by a filibuster.
"He never had a chance to have this hearing," Mr. Graham said before making two stark admissions -- that the nominee would be approved unless she had a "complete meltdown" and that the hearing "is mostly about liberal and conservative politics more than it is about anything else."
Earlier today, Eric noted that blogger Marcy Wheeler caused a bit of a stir yesterday by using the phrase "blow job" on MSNBC, in the context of pointing out that conservatives eagerly investigated Bill Clinton's sex life, but don't want to investigate various infinitely more serious Bush/Cheney administration misdeeds.
As Eric noted, MSNBC hosts David Shuster and Tamron Hall "quickly apologized on behalf of Wheeler, stressing she didn't mean to say that phrase on daytime TV."
Here's something else that happened on MSNBC yesterday: On Morning Joe, Pat Buchanan (an MSNBC employee, not a blogger guest) said that Todd Palin should drown Levi Johnston to death in a stream. I didn't see any MSNBC anchor apologize for Buchanan's statement that a teenager should be put to death. In fact, Shuster and Hall played the clip during their show, laughing all the while.
Then, on Hardball, Buchanan said it again.
So, let's review: saying the phrase "blow job" on a cable channel that spent a year covering a blow job: Poor form. Repeatedly advocating the brutal murder of a teenager: Funny!
Glad we got that straight.
Newsbusters' Warner Todd Huston complains about Jeffrey Toobin's reference to Ruth Bader Ginsberg as a "cautious and careful liberal":
In his July 13 piece, for instance, Toobin calls Sotomayor a "cautious and careful liberal" like Ginsburg and Breyer.
Since when is Ginsburg a "cautious and careful liberal"? She was, after all, once the chief litigator for women's rights for the extremely leftist group the ACLU. The reason she was picked by President Bill Clinton to take a seat on the Court is because she was an activist liberal. Not "cautious" in the least.
Well, that would be news to conservative Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, who recommended that Clinton choose Ginsburg. And it would be news to Yale Law School professor Paul Gewirtz, whose study found that from 1994 to 2005, Ginsberg was the second least activist member of the Supreme Court - far less activist in her votes than Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, among others.
But never mind those inconvenient facts: Warner Todd Huston says Bill Clinton chose Ginsburg "because she was an activist liberal." So it must be true. Warner Todd Huston wouldn't just make that up.
Blogger Marcy Wheeler caused a media stir yesterday when she appeared on MSNBC and said "blow job" on live TV. (See clip below.) She said it in the context of Republicans demanding that the Obama administration not investigate possible law-breaking by the previous GOP administration.
Said Wheeler to her conservative counterpart on MSNBC:
And your idea is that after investigating Bill Clinton of a blow job for like five years, we shouldn't investigate the huge, grossly illegal things that were done under the past administration only because Alberto Gonzales was too much in the back pocket of Dick Cheney to do it when he was still in office.
MSNBC's hosts quickly apologized on behalf of Wheeler, stressing she didn't mean to say that phrase on daytime TV. Gawker poked some fun, posting the headline:
Why You Should Never Put Bloggers On TV
But I don't buy it. Of course, I see the general point--when people go on cable news shows they ought to refrain from using certain sexual phrases. But you know what, if liberal bloggers were around in the late `90's during the impeachment insanity and had regularly gone on TV to remind voters that Republicans were trying to remove a sitting president from office over a "blow job," maybe that nonsense could have been curtailed.
Instead, the Beltway pundits minded their manners and pretended impeachment was about something grand and important and legal and historic and...whatever. It wasn't. It was about a blow job, but the press and Republicans didn't want to dwell on that detail. Instead they played dumb. Today, bloggers exist to call out that kind of BS as Wheeler demonstrated. (Blow jobs = big gov't investigations, but illegal torture and wiretapping are out of bounds?)
Personally, I wish bloggers like Wheeler had been around ten years ago for some much needed truth telling about blow jobs.
The Washington Post's Dan Balz offers an assessment of the Sotomayor hearings:
Sessions framed the conservative case against Sotomayor and his GOP colleagues filled out the bill of particulars they will pursue this week. They object not only to some things Sotomayor has said, but to Obama's assertion that one of the attributes he wants in a Supreme Court justice is empathy. Does that, they asked, inevitably lead to a biased rendering of the law that unfairly favors one group over another?
Republican Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (Utah) and Jon Kyl (Ariz.) raised that issue yesterday morning. How can a justice make sure he or she sets aside personal experiences and sympathies when interpreting the Constitution? Kyl wondered what will happen when Sotomayor ascends to the high court and is free from the restraints on any appeals court judge. He was blunt in questioning whether she would be an evenhanded interpreter of the law.
All of these are legitimate areas of inquiry for the Republicans.
Not mentioned: Previous praise by Republicans for judicial "empathy." Also not mentioned: Sam Alito's statement that his ethnic background influences his approach to discrimination cases. Also not mentioned: Sam Alito just sided with someone who shares his ethnic background in a discrimination case that Republicans use to claim Sotomayor is unable to make unbiased decisions.
In other words, these are "legitimate areas of inquiry for the Republicans" unless you happen to consider overt hypocrisy illegitimate.