Clarifying What Doesn’t Need to be Clarified

I’m very pleased to see that the Obama administration’s inexplicable decision to concede the right’s illegitimate “racist” argument is getting some well-deserved criticism in blogtopia:

One of the things that used to drive me nuts about Bill Clinton was his propensity to concede points he didn’t need to concede, thus moving the ball down the field for the other side. Over and over again, his White House succumbed to overwrought harassment by the worst elements of the Right Wing Noise machine by making incremental “admissions” out of a misplaced belief that doing so would cool the shrill shrieking craziness. (I’m pretty sure they figured they would gain allies among the allegedly saner establishment Republicans, which was also foolish because they play their own role in the loony pageant.)

It never works very well. The political press inevitably begins to look differently at the debate once the president validates the complaint in any way and it takes on a salience it would never have had if the White House simply held and let the other side fulminate and froth like the kooks they are. Unfortunately, Obama made a move in that direction today, and the press is featuring it in a way that should make everyone a little bit queasy:

The White House says Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor acknowledges she made a poor word choice in a 2001 speech in which she said that a Latina judge would often reach a better conclusion than a white male judge who hasn’t lived the same life.

That’s according to presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs. He says he has not talked directly to Sotomayor about it but has spoken to

Ed Schultz pushed hard on this point in an MSNBC interview with Lannie Davis, who was one of the people advising Pres. Obama to say that Sotomayor “misspoke.” And who better to urge the president to “clarify” what does not need to be clarified than Davis, currently a White House lawyer and formerly an adviser to that very Bill Clinton?

Here’s what Davis said:

Davis said, “Every day that goes by that they don’t say she misspoke and she used the wrong words … they just feed it and give it life and give Rush [Limbaugh] and [Sean] Hannity more airtime unnecessarily.”

Schultz wasn’t buying it. I can’t find the video clip anymore that I watched yesterday, but here is what Schultz said, quoted in a Politico article (last paragraph):

“I think this is a blunder and I’m really surprised at the White House’s reaction to this week’s right wing rhetoric on this issue,” Schultz said during his cable program. “They’re caving in, that’s the only way I can read it…. It really validates critics who were never going side with him on anything. Hey, get tough against these people. What’s really odd about this is that the White House I think really had this battle won all week long.”

Which is pretty much what digby said:

They had the better of the argument — Republicans were acting like crazed, freaks, alienating Hispanics by the thousands and making women hate them even more, and the whole country was aghast. Why they gave them validation on this, I don’t really understand.

8 Responses to “Clarifying What Doesn’t Need to be Clarified”

  1. Booogie-Mann says:

    Well I have to give Obama credit here for having the courage to state the obvious. The same can’t be said for CFLF where Double Standards DO apply. Congrats to Obama, Davis is a skilled adviser … I wonder if Latino’s were upset at Miguel Estrada’s treatment?? Were Blacks upset at how Democrats treated Janice Rodgers Brown??

    As far as all this incremental admissions during the Clinton era .. well were those bags of Cash Charlie Trie dropped off at the White House just incremental illegal donations to Clinton’s reelection?? Both Trie and John Huang have subsequently been convicted for violating Federal Campaign Regulations, both were foreigners, both were close to Clinton. But I don’t suppose Kathy or CFLF cared at the time who was visiting the White House every day or what they brought with them $$ … it’s just those mean Repugnicans !! They need to shut up !!!

    There were dozens of Clinton Scandals that went overlooked. Trie/Huang and the Illegal money from China was extremely obvious, yet went unpunished .. . Mark Rich, the biggest tax cheat in American History gets pardoned .. then miraculously Clinton gets millions from Rich’s hot wifey for his Library … there’s so much more … C’mon now!! Bubba was corrupt .. just no way around it ..

    http://www.io.com/~cjburke/clinton/clinatoz.html

  2. Booogie-Mann says:

    After some careful thought about Sotomayor, I don’t think a Latina Woman from Puerto Rico, with that background can make as many good decisions on the bench, as an American White Male with his background and American Life experience.

    Also, I did read Soto’s entire speech to Berkley. It was very divisive at points, full of Identity Politics, some common ground there, some good stuff, sponsored by “La Raza” the separatist/racist Latino Organization, and that quote was indeed taken in context. The controversial quote is bigoted, no extra context is needed, it IS in context.

  3. Chief says:

    Are we referring to the time when Judge Sotomayor said that the appeals court is where policy is made???

  4. Chief says:

    Would you please provide a link to the full text of that Berkley speech?

    Thanks

  5. Kathy says:

    No, Chief, we are not referring to the “appeals court is where policy is made” quote. We are referring to this line — “”I would hope 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.”

    The line comes from a speech Sotomayor gave in 2001 at a conference on diversity. Here is the link: http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/05/28/in-her-own-words-sotomayor-2001-latina-speech/.

  6. Chief says:

    I found it at a NYT site: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/15/us/politics/15judge.text.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2

    I don’t believe that it is possible for me to disagree more w/ B-M. She is obviously a very bright person. If you haven’t traveled in her shoes, or at least a similar path, I do not see how one can offer valid criticism.

    I, too, read the entire speech at the NYT site. I think that it is full of insights that most white males would never consider. I often say, “You can’t really appreciate the good times until you’ve suffered through the bad times.”

    All members of a minority class, and some of us that belong to the supposed majority, bring a perspective that is at least partly the result of having suffered through some bad times.

    I see no “bigot” in her speech. I see someone who graduated high enough in her law school class to be able to think on levels that B-M and I cannot understand.

  7. Chief says:

    B-M,
    And speaking of La Raza or National council of La Raza. I have heard of it but know only what I read this morning at Wiki. Sounds similar to NAACP or B’nai B’rith. What is wrong with that?

  8. Booogie-Mann says:

    Nobody’s saying she isn’t smart. But does she have the Judicial Temperament, humility, and loyalty to the Constitution I would ask for in a Supreme Court Justice? Perhaps not in my view, others favor Judicial Activism.

    This notion that you have to walk in my Minority shoes in order to level criticism is kinda racist, and unfair Chief. Using the standard set by Progressives to define bigot and racist, she fits the definition according to her own words. It would not be acceptable for a white guy to make the same kind of speech Soto did. By my definition and Conservatives she is not a racist, but that line is certainly bigoted. Obama admitted as much.

    La Raza is in part a “rights group” organization. It also includes racist and separatist portions/people. Research it a bit, and follow it for awhile on their web site or local chapters then see what you think. Anyway, got to go.

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