But it has long been clear that Stuart Taylor should not be taken seriously.
See, in 1996, Taylor wrote a buzz-generating article for American Lawyer arguing that Paula Jones had a strong case against Bill Clinton.
In fact, it was obvious that Paula Jones had no case against Bill Clinton. Not because it was obvious Jones was lying, but because -- as Judge Susan Webber Wright ultimately ruled -- even if everything Jones said was true, she had no "genuine issues" worthy of trial. Jones hadn't even alleged any tangible harm that she suffered as a result of Clinton's alleged advances.
So, it isn't just that Taylor was wrong in his assessment of Jones' case, it's that he was spectacularly wrong. Taylor thought Jones had a strong case; the judge ruled that Jones had no case whatsoever. That even if everything she said was true (even the things that contradicted each other) she simply did not have a valid lawsuit.
So why on earth would anyone ever trust Stuart Taylor's judgment?
Now, let's add a couple more facts to the mix: while he was touting Paula Jones' non-existent case against the president, he was referring to Clinton aides as his "cronies," suggesting a certain lack of impartiality. Worse, Taylor was negotiating for a job in Ken Starr's office while appearing on television and in print to offer supposedly neutral assessments of Starr's investigation.
So why on earth would anyone ever trust Stuart Taylor's impartiality?
UPDATE: Adam Serwer dismantles Taylor's assessment of Sotomayor. Here's a taste:
What people like Taylor find so offensive about Sotomayor's statement is that it properly exposes the perspective of white, Christian heterosexual men as specific to their experience, rather than the omniscient eye of G-d they're used to presenting it as. Does anyone seriously believe Dred Scott or Plessy v. Fergueson would have been upheld by any court that had the remotest idea of what it was like to be black or a slave? Or similarly that the court would have held in Minor v. Happersett that being a citizen didn't mean you had a right to vote if you were a woman? Do we really believe that judges in these cases were "simply upholding the law" in the absence of the cultural and social prejudices of their times?
Go read the rest.
From Mark Krikorian's May 27 post on the National Review Online's The Corner:
It Sticks in My Craw [Mark Krikorian]
Most e-mailers were with me on the post on the pronunciation of Judge Sotomayor's name (and a couple griped about the whole Latina/Latino thing - English dropped gender in nouns, what, 1,000 years ago?). But a couple said we should just pronounce it the way the bearer of the name prefers, including one who pronounces her name "freed" even though it's spelled "fried," like fried rice. (I think Cathy Seipp of blessed memory did the reverse - "sipe" instead of "seep.") Deferring to people's own pronunciation of their names should obviously be our first inclination, but there ought to be limits. Putting the emphasis on the final syllable of Sotomayor is unnatural in English (which is why the president stopped doing it after the first time at his press conference), unlike my correspondent's simple preference for a monophthong over a diphthong, and insisting on an unnatural pronunciation is something we shouldn't be giving in to.
For instance, in Armenian, the emphasis is on the second syllable in my surname, just as in English, but it has three syllables, not four (the "ian" is one syllable) - but that's not how you'd say it in English (the "ian" means the same thing as in English - think Washingtonian or Jeffersonian). Likewise in Russian, you put the emphasis in my name on the final syllable and turn the "o" into a schwa, and they're free to do so because that's the way it works in their language. And should we put Asian surnames first in English just because that's the way they do it in Asia? When speaking of people in Asia, okay, but not people of Asian origin here, where Mao Tse-tung would properly have been changed to Tse-tung Mao. Likewise with the Mexican practice of including your mother's maiden name as your last name, after your father's surname.
This may seem like carping, but it's not. Part of our success in assimilation has been to leave whole areas of culture up to the individual, so that newcomers have whatever cuisine or religion or so on they want, limiting the demand for conformity to a smaller field than most other places would. But one of the areas where conformity is appropriate is how your new countrymen say your name, since that's not something the rest of us can just ignore, unlike what church you go to or what you eat for lunch. And there are basically two options -- the newcomer adapts to us, or we adapt to him. And multiculturalism means there's a lot more of the latter going on than there should be.
When Glenn Beck blogs:
Right now, it's the bottom of the ninth and we are down to our last out and our last strike. Will our government take strike three looking? Or, will they wake up and save the day with a heroic three pointer on a penalty shot?
And this was in the Journal's news pages, not even the anti-Sotomayor opinion pages. In general the Journal's Sotomayor reporting today is just awful, at least the political coverage of the pick. The Journal's analysis of her legal career is more insightful.
Here's a passage from the Journal's A1 news story:
Conservative opponents questioned the usefulness of "empathy" as a qualification. They will have ammunition as they seek to paint Ms. Sotomayor as a liberal activist and strong backer of affirmative action who would use the Supreme Court to make law, not interpret it. A video from Duke University in 2005 shows Ms. Sotomayor proclaiming the "court of appeals is where policy is made."
Reading right off GOP talking points, the Journal twice hypes the phony "empathy" card, pretending it's a very big deal. In fact, three times, because the newspaper devotes an entire, separate article to the issue. The Journal news team thinks its hugely significant that at some point Obama made a passing reference to "empathy" in terms of traits that would best suit a Supreme Court Justice. Interestingly though, the Journal never actually quotes Obama saying anything about empathy. Readers are just supposed to assume that Obama's made a big deal about it even though it's the GOP that's focused on the silly word game. (The Journal also plays dumb about the fact that Republican senators in the past have praised "empathy" while discussing possible SCOTUS picks.)
Nonetheless, the Murdoch's Journal dutifully plays along with the GOP's preferred narrative, not just with the "empathy" nonsense, but with the tape of Sotomayor at Duke saying the "court of appeals is where policy is made"? Without offering the slightest bit of context about the quote, the Journal states as fact that that quote will provide "ammunition" to her "conservative opponents."
This is simply the Journal bypassing actual journalism in favor of regurgitating GOP talking points. Not once but twice. Here's the newspaper's sidebar article:
[Critics] also circulated a YouTube video of a 2005 appearance at Duke University, where Ms. Sotomayor said that the "Court of Appeals is where policy is made." She joked that she shouldn't speak on tape, but went on to say the law percolated at the appellate-court level before its final interpretation by the Supreme Court.
The Journal makes no effort to provide any sort of context to the quote. The Journal also makes no effort to do what the Huffington Post recently did, which was interview legal scholars to see if Sotomayor's Duke quote was in any way controversial, let alone newsworthy.
Here's what the Huffpost found:
Eric Freedman, a law professor at Hofstra University, was equally dismissive of this emerging conservative talking point. "She was saying something which is the absolute judicial equivalent of saying the sun rises each morning. It is not a controversial proposition at all that the overwhelming quantity of law making work in the federal system is done by the court of appeals... It is thoroughly uncontroversial to anyone other than a determined demagogue."
Apparently the Journal would rather not have that kind of context collide with the rather shaky GOP talking points it presents as news.
Here's Ramesh Ponnuru, trying to bring the snark:
It's also true, as Sotomayor's defenders keep saying, that Miers never served on the bench and didn't go to Ivy League schools. I am, incidentally, enjoying the spectacle of leftists who spent years saying President Bush was a moron carry on about how insane and probably racist it is for anyone to doubt the intellect of someone who went to those schools.
True, George W. Bush attended Yale and Harvard Business School. Being the son of a millionaire oilman (and later congressman, CIA director, and President) and the grandson of a Senator, both of whom attended Yale, probably had a little something to do with that - especially given that he never made the honor roll at the elite prep school his family connections got him into.
Sonia Sotomayor didn't have benefit of being a Fortunate Son like W. But that isn't the only way the comparison fails. While at his daddy's alma matter, George W. Bush compiled an academic record that led the University of Texas Law School to reject his application. While at Princeton, Sonia Sotomayor won the University's highest academic prize and graduated summa cum laude.
George W: Attended Yale as a legacy descendant of the wealthy and powerful; compiled mediocre academic record.
Sotomayor: Worked her way from South Bronx housing projects to Princeton University's highest academic honor.
So, uh, they're a little different.
To be fair, Ponnuru did concede that Sotomayor is of at least average intelligence:
For whatever it's worth, I am perfectly willing to assume that Sotomayor's IQ is north of 100.
Mighty generous of him, don't you think?
Or maybe RedState's Erick Erickson just doesn't want to hear certain things. But does he have to advertise that fact with a comically inaccurate blog post? Apparently, yes he does.
Erickson was taking a whack at Pennsylvania Republican Tom Ridge who over the weekend committed a RedState mortal sin by tweaking Rush Limbaugh. Ridge had the audacity to suggest Limbaugh turn down the temperature on some of his hate speech rhetoric.
Erickson did not approve and dubbed Ridge a liar:
Tom Ridge, on CNN, said this of Rush Limbaugh:
"Rush articulates his point of view in ways that offend very many… let's be less shrill… let's not attack other individuals. Let's attack their ideas."
Since when has Rush attacked individuals? I listen to the show regularly. He certainly pokes fun at some of them, but he highlights absurdities of character, etc. in pointing out the fallacies of positions on the left.
For example — the President of the United States wants us all to stop breathing to save the environment, but his administration sends Air Force One on a joy ride to take pictures.
Is that an attack on Obama? No. It is pointing out the inconsistencies in Barack Obama's policies.
According to RedState, Ridge had it all wrong. Limbaugh doesn't attack individuals, he merely questions policies. Rush is practically a policy wonk. Like when Rush recently claimed Obama supporters have "anti-American" feelings and don't like the U.S.A. Oh wait, that was an attack on tens of millions of individuals.
More like when Rush said Obama's inner circle of "sycophants" would likely die of "anal poisoning." Oh wait, that's a hateful attack on specific individuals also.
What about when Rush attacked Britain's prime minister Gordan Brown, suggesting that if he kept "slobbering" over Obama he'd also be stricken with "anal poisoning"? Oops, obvious attack on an individual (Read: head of state) there.
And remember the time Rush likened Al Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to "Howard Dean, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, Harry Reid, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry ... Carl Levin, Nancy Pelosi"? That seemed sort of individual-ish.
What the heck, lets dial up the way-back machine and travel to April 8, 2004 and listen in to Limbaugh's show:
"Senator Kennedy, a simple question. Does it please you to learn who your friends are? Does it excite you, Senator Kennedy, to learn that the militant, firebrand, murderer of American civilians and military personnel is on your side, Senator Kennedy? Does it encourage you? Does it invigorate you? Does it inspire you, Senator Kennedy, to know that a murdering Al Qaeda-related terrorist has taken up your argument for use against his enemy? How does that make you feel, Senator Kennedy? Does it embarrass you? Because it should. Or does it probably excite you and think you're making headway now. You've got the enemy aligned with you."
Or how about November 2002? From Spinsanity:
On Nov. 15, [Limbaugh] asserted that [Tom] Daschle's criticism of the conduct of the war on terrorism amounted to "an attempt to sabotage the war on terrorism," called him "Hanoi Tom" and suggested that he is " a disgrace to patriotism." On other occasions, Limbaugh has suggested that "In essence, Daschle has chosen to align himself with the axis of evil" and has drawn an extended analogy between Daschle and Satan.
I could probably go on for 34 more paragraphs, but I think you get the idea. Limbaugh apologists like Erickson pretend Rush would never say anything nasty about individuals. But grown-ups like Ridge know the truth.
It looks like some reporters are latching on to the number of times Sonia Sotomayor's decisions have been overturned by the SCOTUS, as though it tells us something about her. But it doesn't mean nearly as much as they seem to think it means, simply because there is no particular reason to think Sotomayor was "wrong," and the Supreme Court "right" based solely on the fact that the Court overturned her.
Liberals and conservatives alike can, with great ease, point to SCOTUS decisions that they think were incorrect. Having a decision overturned by SCOTUS doesn't necessarily mean a judge was "wrong"; it may just mean that the majority of Supreme Court justices at the time disagreed with her.
Is it news to simply collect in one place all the knee-jerk talking points issued from Republicans to Obama's SCOTUS pick? Hard to see how it is. Nonetheless, that's the approach Politico takes with article headline:
Sonia Sotomayor starts taking hits from opposition
And that literally is what the entire piece consists of; a laundry list of press releases issued by conservatives such as Mike Huckabee, as well as outlets like the National Abortion Control Board, the Judicial Confirmation Network, Cato Institute raising objections to the Supreme Court nominee.