From a May 28 New York Daily News op-ed by Robert Morgenthau:
No sooner had President Obama announced his nomination of Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor than conservative partisans began calling for her defeat. These so-called pundits have pronounced her a "radical," an "activist," part of the "far left," an "affirmative action case" and, most astoundingly, a "racist." We were not long left in suspense as to whether this administration's judicial nominees can expect to be vetted with objectivity and due civility.
I have known Judge Sotomayor for decades, and I know how absurd these charges are. I doubt that anyone will be fooled by them, but let me state for the record my views on her nomination.
Assistant District Attorney Sotomayor was no "liberal." Rather, she was a tough and effective prosecutor. Young prosecutors are sometimes picked on by judges and defense attorneys, but no one successfully pushed this ADA around. Within a short time she had come to the attention of trial division executives as someone who was a step ahead of her colleagues, one of the brightest, an immediate standout who was marked for rapid advancement.
The judge's work since she left this office confirms that she is a strong champion of the law. In particular, she has served with distinction on what I consider to be the second most important appellate court in the world, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. To be sure, she is in favor of civil rights, in the sense that she believes there should be fair treatment for all. But that is, of course, the law. And she understands poverty, and does seem willing to accept government action that provides a safety net to the poor. But that is not exactly "radical."
CNN's Ed Henry and David Gergen discussing Barack Obama raising money for Harry Reid:
Henry: The jetsetting could fuel a backlash.
Gergen: I think most Americans feel that he's got his hand full with problems back in Washington, why is he out raising money?
Oh, come on. There is no sigifnicant number of Americans who might otherwise like Barack Obama who are upset that he's raising money for Harry Reid. Which is probably why neither Henry nor Gergen mentioned any such person. This is completely contrived.
George Will takes issue with the notion that Sonia Sotomayor "saved baseball":
"The president is a gentleman and a scholar and a great ornament to our society, but he's not a great baseball historian," Will told us.
"He says that when she ended the baseball impasse that was interrupting play in 1994 and 1995, she saved baseball," Will says. "Far from it. What she did was overturn in a sense, the essence, the underlies, the essential theory of American labor relations, which is the parties should slug it out because they know best and whoever wins, wins."
Really? The essential theory of American labor relations involves management having a monopoly by virtue of being exempted from antitrust law? That's George Will's idea of a fair negotiating situation in which "whoever wins, wins"?
By the way, Will serves as a director of both the Baltimore Orioles and the San Diego Padres, meaning that his views on baseball labor relations are not exactly impartial.
Will says that "in fact, what she did was take sides, took union's side against the management, and in so-doing, wasted 262 days of negotiations. That, far from saving baseball, consigned baseball to seven more years of an unreformed economic system, which happened to be the seven worst years in terms of competitive balance."
I don't know how Will defines "competitive balance," but I do know that however he defines it, 1995-2001 aren't the "seven worst years." Just to take the simplest possible definition: The New York Yankees won 6 World Series in the 7 years from 1947-1953. Four different teams won the 7 World Series played during Will's "seven worst years in terms of competitive balance." If Will wants to provide a different definition of "competitive balance," I'll explain why he's wrong based on that definition, too.
UPDATE: To that last point, here's Bill James in his 2001 book The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract: "the method I have established to measure competitive balance does show that overall competitive balance was greater in the 1990s than in any other period of baseball history." James is an actual baseball expert; Will just plays on on TV. James doesn't specifically address the competative balance of the years 1995-2001, but it's a pretty safe bet that if the 1990s as a whole featured greater competative balance than any other decade in history, 1995-2001 must not have been the "seven worst years," as Will claims.
CNN is running a package by reporter Jim Acosta that is full of baseless conservative spin about Sonia Sotomayor.
First, conservative Wendy Long is shown on-camera claiming that Sotomayor is "very much a liberal judicial activist." Long doesn't explain what that means, give any examples, or explain why it would be a bad thing. Nor is she asked to do so. Nor does anyone point out that, by one study, Clarence Thomas is the most "activist" member of the Supreme Court. Long is simply allowed to offer a baseless and empty talking point.
Then, Acosta presents "Exhibit A" in the Right's case against Sotomayor: a video clip of the judge saying the court of appeals is where policy is made. Acosta notes "Sotomayor's critics say that's judicial activism. In other words, legislating from the bench." Acosta does not, however, note that those same critics are in favor of judicial activism - as long as the judges in question are conservatives. More importantly, the clip - and the conservative arguments Acosta passes on - take Sotomayor's comment out of context. In reality, she was simply explaining the difference between district and appeals courts. But Acosta didn't include that explanation, much less make clear that it is the truth, and the conservative complaints are misleading.
Here's The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb:
Does anyone dispute that Sotomayor has been the recipient of preferential treatment for most of her life? She played a role in the hiring of a dean at Princeton -- how many alums got that kind of treatment while they were undergraduates?
Well, gee, I don't know. How many alums won Princeton's highest academic prize? Goldfarb seems to think that being among a select few is synonymous with getting preferential treatment. It isn't. Maybe Sotomayor was chosen to serve on the advisory board on the strength of her academic accomplishments. Or maybe the fact that she -- according to Goldfarb -- "launch[ed] a public campaign" to influence Princeton's hiring had a little something to do with it. In other words, maybe she earned it. But that thought apparently hasn't crossed Goldfarb's mind; he thinks the only possible explanation is that she was a woman and a minority.
(And if Goldfarb thinks that in 1974, Sotomayor's white male classmates had less influence via their wealthy and connected parents over Princeton's administration than did Sotomayor and he fellow Latinas, he's delusional.)
Then Goldfarb argues that Sotomayor "appears to have received preferential treatment" because a law firm recruiting Yalies apologized for "insensitive and regrettable" questions asked of Sotomayor.
See, if a law firm asks a student who won Princeton University's highest academic prize whether she would have gotten into Yale if she wasn't Puerto Rican, then apologizes for the question, that means -- according to Michael Goldfarb -- the student is getting preferential treatment.
Karl Rove - the genius who sent his candidate to an un-winnable state in the closing days of the closest presidential race in American history - isn't sure Sonia Sotomayor is smart.
Rove explains: "I know lots of stupid people who went to Ivy League schools."
You might assume Rove was referring to a certain former boss of his who attended Yale and Harvard Business School. But, as Think Progress notes, Rove has previously pointed to George W. Bush's graduation from those schools as evidence of his intelligence.
So, let's get this straight: George W. Bush got into Yale because his rich daddy and his Senator granddaddy both went there. While at Yale, Bush compiled an unspectacular academic record. Karl Rove says that's evidence Bush is smart. Sonia Sotomayor went from the projects of the South Bronx to Princeton University, where she won the school's highest academic prize. Karl Rove says that doesn't mean she's smart.
I'm starting to think nobody should ever listen to anything Karl Rove has to say.
Here's Cillizza at washingtonpost.com:
If the ultimate goal for Republicans is to defeat Obama in 2012, then the Sotomayor pick presents them with a golden opportunity to cast the president as a traditional liberal -- far from the post-partisan figure he was able to present to the American public in the 2008 election.
A couple problems here. Cillizza provides no evidence to back up the claim that the Sotomayor pick would allow Republicans to portray Obama as a "traditional liberal." (i.e. There's no indication that's how voters see the nomination.) But more importantly, Cillizza doesn't indicate why that would be a problem. I realize Republicans assume that Americans would never elect a liberal president, but why does Cillizza simply accept that GOP premise? Why does he claim that, "Re-defining Obama as a liberal is, without question, Republicans best path to the White House."
The fact is that 2008 polling indicated that voters viewed Obama as a liberal when they awarded him an electoral landslide election over John McCain. According to an October 2008, Pew Research Center poll, a majority of swing voters viewed Obama as "liberal" (Obama was seen as about as far to the left as John McCain is to the right), and a clear majority of those voters sided with Obama's agenda.
And excuse me, but didn't the entire GOP campaign in 2008 revolve around the fact that Obama was supposedly the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate? Republicans hammered Obama for months as being a liberal, but Cillizza seems to think voters were blind to the candidate's progressive agenda.
Voters weren't somehow fooled during the campaign. They understood Obama represented the liberal candidate and, in overwhelming numbers, they selected him over the conservative one. Cillizza, embracing the center-right myth about American politics, seems to push the idea that if Republicans, between now and 2012, can successfully paint Obama as a liberal than they could seriously dent his chances for re-election.
There's just no proof of that.
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?