Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bias watch: Day 2

Dana Milbank makes an ass of himself in today's Post describing the woman who may be America's Next Top Jurist:
In selecting Sotomayor, Obama opted for biography over brain. As a legal mind, Sotomayor is described in portraits as competent, but no Louis Brandeis. Nor is Sotomayor, often described as an abrasive jurist, likely to be the next Earl Warren. But her bio is quite a hit. In Spanish, her surname can be translated as "big thicket" -- and that's just where Republicans could find themselves if they oppose this up-from-poverty Latina.
Who says she's not brainy? Well, no one that Milbank can name, but why let fact intrude on this lovely fictional narrative. Who describes her as abrasive? Duh, PEOPLE. You know, smart people, with titles and experience and everything. Just trust me on this, says Milbank. As I'm sure many folks will.

Let's make a song, shall we? Then we can sing it in response to anyone who claims that this brilliant, accomplished woman is merely Ghetto Barbie (comes with a briefcase!).

The song will begin:

Princeton U! Yale Law!
ADA for Morganthau!
Princeton U! Yale Law!
ADA for Morganthau!

Okay, that's more of a chant. No one ever accused me of being Bob Dylan. (Bob Dylans out there: help?) I am accusing Milbank of willful deceit, however, unless he can back up his demeaning, offhand assertions that there is nothing to Sonia but dark skin and a good bio. God, I hate this nonsense.


angela said...

Honestly I don't know what to think: I've been hearing the "not so smart" charge from a few corners, including some liberal ones. (I guess most notably the Jeffrey Rosen article in the New Republic here.) And I have to admit that even the possibility freaks me out, being the sort of person that values smarts almost to the exclusion of anything else. But then of course I can't help feeling like in every criticism of her, some weird racist/sexist/classist strains come through... I guess I'm looking forward to hearing more about her. And hopefully having my doubts quelled pronto.

ester said...

The Rosen thing relies heavily on blind quotes and I've seen it pulled apart several places by people who've called it something close to character assassination. Even Rosen published a semi-retraction in which he apologized for the title and some other aspects of the piece.

Here Morganthau chimes in to say, among other things, "'She’s highly intelligent, extremely fair and not doctrinaire,' ... He wrote today that he is “astonished” that some have labeled Sotomayor “an affirmative action beneficiary…it is simply unreasonable, if not racist, so to impugn this individual... Sotomayor is where she is today because of her talent.’" So that's a start.

angela said...

It seems like the "not smart" charge is being thrown at her in a couple of ways. The first (indefensible) way makes her out to be an affirmative action pick who has no qualifications beyond her bio. Which is just plain ridiculous--she's way more well-qualified than any of Bush's picks, and it wouldn't be possible for anyone with her CV to have anything but a very fine mind.

But what I took away from the Rosen article and others is that she's not the brilliant liberal opinion-shaping justice that I would have most wanted. I'm no legal expert and only know the pre-digested info I read in news outlets, but the more I read the less excited I feel (this Glenn Greenwald post even made me tear up a little bit).

That said, the right-wing attacks on her are infuriating and, maybe even more than that, depressing. It astonishes me how many people still just don't get it. Anyway, let's discuss in person Saturday :)

angela said...

ps. Scary-ass case in point

Nathan said...

That Salon/Greenwald post was so awesome.