Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I must say, watching the reactions to the Sotomayor pick has been an almost beautifully predictable exercise in Kabuki politics. Observe:

Opponents’ first claim – likely stated obliquely and only on background – will be that Judge Sotomayor is not smart enough for the job. ... By contrast, John Roberts was described as brilliant and Sam Alito as exceptionally smart. The objective evidence is that Sotomayor is in fact extremely intelligent. Graduating at the top of the class at Princeton is a signal accomplishment. Her opinions are thorough, well-reasoned, and clearly written. Nothing suggests she isn’t the match of the other Justices.

Rod Dreher:
Given that we were certain to get a liberal justice out of Obama, I suppose one has to take comfort in knowing that Obama made a quota pick too, and did not choose a liberal justice who can match intellects with Roberts and Scalia.

Done and done.

What is incredible is that Dreher's sole basis for insulting Justice Sotomayor's intellect is the infamous Rosen hit piece that went up at The New Republic. I find it impossible to believe that Dreher missed the entirely warranted firestorm that followed the story, which was largely composed of anonymous gossip and amorphous "doubts" and concerns as well as flat-out falsehoods. That Dreher relied on a piece that even Powerline called gossipy suggests that he has given little if any thought to his opinion. He seems quite ready to buy into what Greenwald described as "the Jeffrey-Rosen/Ben-Wittes/Stuart-Taylor grievance on behalf of white males that, as Dahlia Lithwick put it, 'a diverse bench must inevitably be a second-rate bench.'"

Truly, deconstruct Dreher's statement for a minute. He said that Obama was bound to choose a liberal, and of his options he chose a "quota pick" who, for reasons passing understanding, therefore is necessarily intellectually subpar for the Supreme Court. I'm sure Dreher did not actually intend to say that any non-white non-male nominee would be likely to be below the level of Samuel Alito or John Roberts; what he intended to say, no doubt, was that this particular brown woman is seems to be below their level, and therefore must be seen as a quota pick.

But he's stuck in a circle here: he has no decent evidence to rely on when it comes to assessing her as indeed a less brilliant mind. The only evidence he bothered to cite is flimsy at best. So what I want to know is, how does he know she is a quota pick?

I won't attempt to answer the question. I don't know Dreher's mind. But I will say I do think he has what my roommate would call his judgment pants on.

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