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MSNBC: Opposition to Sotomayor = "Smearing" the Nominee

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Posted on July 14 2009 12:17 pm
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On his Countdown program last night a sneering Keith Olbermann, whose modus operandi is to use well-rehearsed sneers and ad hominem derision as substitutes for facts, summarily dismissed “the Republican talking point of ‘judicial activism’” vis à vis the Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

Complaining that Republican moments of honesty were “rare” during yesterday’s Senate session, Olbermann asserted that “the Republicans have been sliming this judge for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for six weeks” — on such matters as what Olbermann called the “snippet” wherein Sotomayor was quoted stating 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.”

Within the cramped confines of Olbermann’s diminutive ideological “tent,” where all people can be neatly divided into two opposing camps – simpleminded and racist conservatives on the one hand and enlightened liberals on the other – there is no room for any honest disagreement. By Olbermann’s calculus, all criticisms of Sotomayor amount, by definition, to nothing more than mean-spirited, intellectually dishonest, politically motivated “sliming.” By contrast, we presumably are expected to believe that Democrats’ endless paeans to Sotomayor’s purportedly immense gifts as a judge are the unimpeachable impressions of honest, non-partisan statesmen who would never dream of placing politics ahead of their duty to country.

These are, after all, the same Democrats whose foremost iconic figure in the U.S. Senate, Ted Kennedy, once led his party’s effort to block the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Robert Bork by going to the Senate floor and sharing with his colleagues the following pearls of genial bipartisanship and open-mindedness:

Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens …

It is notable that Olbermann last night made no mention of the fact that Sotomayor’s so-called “snippet” about a “wise Latina” was by no means an isolated remark, but rather was just of many such assertions that she made in public speeches over a nine-year period. According to Congressional Quarterly:

A draft version of a[n] October 2003 speech Sotomayor delivered at Seton Hall University stated, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion.” That is identical to her October 2001 remarks at the University of California, Berkeley that have become the subject of intense criticism by Republican senators and prompted conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh to label her “racist.”

In addition, Sotomayor delivered a series of earlier speeches in which she said “a wise woman” would reach a better decision. She delivered the first of those speeches in Puerto Rico in 1994 and then before the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York in April 1999.

The summary descriptions of speeches Sotomayor provided indicated she delivered remarks similar to the 1994 speech on three other occasions in 1999 and 2000 during two addresses at Yale and one at the City University of New York School of Law.

If Keith Olbermann is comfortable with Sonia Sotomayor’s obvious devotion to racial politics and groupthink, he is wholly entitled to support her. But it is childish for him to suggest that people who profess a desire to see the current Supreme Court vacancy filled by someone who advocates color-blind (rather than color-conscious) justice, are somehow “smearing” the nominee.

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