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.
From MSNBC political analyst Pat Buchanan's syndicated column:
Why did McCain fail to win the white conservative Democrats Hillary Clinton swept in the primaries? He never addressed or cared about their issues.
These are the folks whose jobs have been outsourced to China and Asia, who pay the price of affirmative action when their sons and daughters are pushed aside to make room for the Sonia Sotomayors. These are the folks who want the borders secured and the illegals sent back.
Had McCain been willing to drape Jeremiah Wright around the neck of Barack Obama, as Lee Atwater draped Willie Horton around the neck of Michael Dukakis, the mainstream media might have howled.
And McCain might be president.
What they [Republicans] must do is expose [Judge Sonia] Sotomayor, as they did not in the case of Ginsburg, as a political activist whose career bespeaks a lifelong resolve to discriminate against white males to the degree necessary to bring about an equality of rewards in society.
Sonia is, first and foremost, a Latina. She has not hesitated to demand, even in college and law school, ethnic and gender preferences for her own. Her concept of justice is race-based.
As Media Matters for America has previously noted, Supreme Court litigator Tom Goldstein wrote in a May 29 SCOTUSblog post that after reviewing 96 race-related cases she decided on the court of appeals, "it seems absurd to say that Judge Sotomayor allows race to infect her decision making."
Chris Matthews on Hardball moments ago, referring to books by David Corn, Mike Isikoff, and Ron Suskind detailing Bush administration practices: "You guys are writing books after the fact. It didn't do us much good at the time, though."
In fact, Suskind's One Percent Doctrine was published in 2006, as was Corn & Isikoff's Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War.
And what good was Chris Matthews doing us "at the time"?
On November 28, 2005, just weeks before Hubris was published, Matthews said of Bush: "Everybody sort of likes the president, except the real whack-jobs, maybe on the left." (It wasn't true.) Two days later, Matthews praised a Bush speech about Iraq - a speech Bush had not, technically, delivered yet -- as a "brilliant political move" and dismissed Democratic critics as "carpers and complainers."
A month earlier, Matthews said Bush "glimmers" with "sunny nobility."
In February 2006, after Hubris was published, Matthews said of Bush: "He looks like he's a wise man now ... almost Atticus Finch."
Then, of course, there's Matthews embarrassing "Mission Accomplished" performance.
Oh, and his March 2006 endorsement of Bush's trustworthiness: "How can you not trust a man who says, 'I won't be able to win this war in my presidency; I'm leaving it up to other presidents in the future'?"
Matthews probably isn't the best person to call out the media for being critical of the Bush administration now, but not doing so when Bush was in office.
UPDATE: ... and Suskind and Corn are pretty far down on the list of people who deserve such criticism. Like, near the bottom. Or on another list entirely.
Chris Matthews just asked Senators Richard Durbin and Orrin Hatch several questions in a row about the possibility of a public health care plan that might include federal funding of abortions.
The question Matthews didn't ask? "Abortions are legal medical procedures. Why shouldn't a public health insurance plan pay for a legal medical procedure?"
Instead, Matthews' questions all seemed to assume that such funding shouldn't be allowed; he ultimately told Hatch "I think it's going to be an issue, Senator. I think your side may win this ultimately."
Earlier this year, Matthews said the possibility of including family planning services in the stimulus bill "sounds a little like China."
Newsbusters -- the Media Research Center blog that thinks news outlets that produce accurate reporting should be fined -- is unhappy that CBS' Harry Smith dared to challenge a Republican Senator's talking points:
Responding to Senator Jeff Sessions describing Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor as a "typical liberal activist judge" CBS Early Show co-host Harry Smith argued: "You feel like her record indicates that? I mean, she gets a glowing review from the American Bar Association. Her record doesn't seem to necessarily match up with her - what - some of the things she said."
So, Sessions broke out the tired old "activist judge" talking point, and Smith challenged him to explain what he means, pointing out that Sotomayor's record doesn't substantiate that charge. That's what reporters should do when politicians make baseless charges. That's journalism. And Newsbusters just hates it.
But here's what's really funny: Sessions acknowledged that Smith was right. Here's the transcript, as presented by Newsbusters:
SESSIONS: Well, I think there's some truth to that because I believe we are in this country debating about the directions our courts could go and should go. I believe this nominee, from what I've seen so far, is the typical liberal activist judge who will push the law, who believes that – in identity type politics and seeing people as groups more than individuals. Who is-
SMITH: Would her record – you feel like her record indicates that?
SESSIONS: Harry, you know, she-
SMITH: I mean, she gets a glowing review from the American Bar Association.
SESSIONS: I understand-
SMITH: Her record doesn't seem to necessarily match up with her – what – some of the things she said.
SESSIONS: Right. There is a disconnect there, I will agree. Her record is better than her speeches. Her speeches tend to reflect, I think, her philosophy.