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Rock/Hard Place: the Sotomayoran Dilemma

July 15th, 2009 - 4:29 am

Everybody tells me that Sonia “wise Latina” Sotomayor has her place on the Supreme Court of the Untied States sewn up. The little entertainment currently being furnished by the U.S. Senate, I am authoritatively informed, is not a  “hearing” in any traditional sense of the term — i.e., a procedure whose findings might reasonably be thought to alter the ultimate decision — but is rather a stamp made entirely of rubber.

I do not dispute the accuracy of this prognostication. The number of Democrats currently sitting in the United States Senate forecloses any other outcome. The party that supported slavery in the 19th century, segregation in the early 20th century, and every neo-segregationist initiative (quotas, affirmative action, all manner of politically correct legislation) in recent decades is certainly not going break ranks and vote on something as outmoded as judicial competence when it has an opportunity to garner not one but two points for being politically correct (the hispanic column as well as the female column).

No, absent what Senator Lindsey Graham describes as “a complete meltdown” (a partial thaw wouldn’t do it), the only real questions that face Sonia Sotomayor concern the furniture and color of curtains she wants in her new office. It would be a nice touch if she chose fire-engine red (Ricci red may be the official name) for the latter.

Still, there is something to be said for lodging a minute into the historical record so that future historians can look back and see that the intoxication, though irresistible, was not quite complete. So here, via Instapundit, is a remarkable piece that appeared (mirabile dictu) on the AP wire. Among other things, the column introduces a new term — “Sotomayoran” — that promises to be of great use when the wise Latina ascends to the court:

It’s a good thing Sonia Sotomayor speaks Sotomayoran.

After week upon week in which plenty of other people on the planet interpreted Sotomayor’s past comments, the Supreme Court nominee at last got a chance to deconstruct her own words Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Fingers splayed, palms flat, hands bouncing up and then deliberately pressing down to the table, Sotomayor elaborated, clarified, expanded, retracted.

She drew loopy circles on her paper; she ran rhetorical circles around her past words.

“I didn’t intend to suggest …” she explained.

“What I was speaking about …” she offered.

“As I have tried to explain …” she parsed.

“I wasn’t talking about …” she demurred.

She was a tough critic at times.

“I was using a rhetorical flourish that fell flat,” she averred.

“It was bad,” she said. Of her own words.

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit contented himself with a one-word response: “Ouch.”

For most of us, yes, it would have been a painful precis. But for Sonia Sotomayor and her friends? I suspect they are beyond such embarrassments. As I’ve noted elsewhere, it is a curious quirk of language that “shameless” entails “shameful” — that is, being without shame is something to be ashamed of. How convenient, then, that shame and all its works have been enrolled in the index prohibitorum of reactionary vices (what we used to call virtues). O brave new world, that has such creatures in it!

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