Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jeffrey Rosen Liberal Hero

I am wearing my tin hat. I am actually not totally sure that this post is a joke.
Rosen did a huge damage to the conservative movement by writing that Sotomayor is not too bright based on anonymous sources not in a position to know and a colleague who said she was smart (he cut that part of the statement, which is publicly available, out). Any sensibile (non paranoid) observer must conclude that he is a disgrace to journalism and should stick to teaching (proposed course "the case I made against Sotomayor, don't let this happen to you when you are in court"). However, given the way DC works, that hasn't hurt his career hobby of playing journalist. He got a lot of attention and that's what counts.

But conservatives couldn't resist the "even the liberal TNR" bait. So they argued that Sotomayor is, among other things, not too bright. The overwhelming evidence that she is very very smart makes any sane observers (and this paranoid) think that they believe that no Latina is smart, that they are racists or sexists or both.

If it hadn't been for Rosen, they would have started with the La Raza and "wise* latina" stuff. Still unconvincing but not loathsome. I'm sure they disagree with Sotomayor on exactly how judges should deal with "their personal gender ethnicity and politics". Those smarter than Inhofe can manage not to suggest that anglo men do not have a personal gender or ethnicity. For all I know, Inhofe may have virtually nothing in the way of genitalia (would explain a lot no ?) but he has a gender. The enthusiastic racists and sexists would have done their stuff. But the hacks would have avoided comments about intellect which can be due only to racism or Rosen.

Think of Obama playing 11 dimensional chess and telling Rosen "I'll make you a village star if you plant the idea that Sottomayor is dumb in the minds of racists and sexists who sure won't check." Didn't happen, but it would have been a brilliant trick if it had.

1 comment:

Bruce Webb said...

In the past certain Supreme Court seats were rather openly reserved for particular religious/ethnic categories. You had a Jewish seat and Catholic seat, that is Franfurter was succeeded by Goldberg who was succeeded by Fortas. And no one realistically doubts that the same thing has happened to Thorgood Marshall's seat, no one seriously argued then or now that Thomas was the most qualified candidate in the whole country. Now he may have been the most qualified young, reliably conservative black lawyer in the country, a point that can be debated. but to suggest that his choice was color-blind is to ignore all reality.

Reagan ran on a campaign platform that included the promise that he would appoint a female Supreme Court justice. As it turns out Justice O'Connor was a brilliant choice who in turn kicked open the door with the result that we have a deep, deep bench of talented female judges ready to move up. As a result no one squawked much when Obama's short list included only one man, and one perhaps a little too old to be an ideal selection.

Obama has a perfect right to pull a Reagan or a Bush and pick a candidate who is qualified but also meets pre-selected ethnic and gender attributes. If there were in fact no qualified Latinas out there then picking one would be dereliction of duty. But given that there was one with impeccable credentials Obama has every right to explicitly target diversity.

Judge Goldberg was Jewish, Judge O'Connor was (and is) a woman, Judge Thomas is black. And those were in those cases necessary if not sufficient reasons for their selections for those seats at that time.

Finally the Right is going to come to regret this. By making it clear that they are motivated entirely by questions of ethnic and gender bias they have used up a lot of ammunition for the next judicial fight. Because if you think they are squealing now wait until Obama nominates openly gay Kathleen Sullivan, perhaps one day to take Ginsburg's seat.

Wingnut heads will explode.