By macleans.ca - Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 0 Comments
Sonia Sotomayor hits Sesame Street, Robert Mugabe is the new Cecil Rhodes, plus a king-in-not-waiting
The full-bore FAQ
The royal family still feeds Prince Charles now that he’s 64—just not seven eggs at breakfast, as per popular myth. That and other long-held beliefs about the Prince of Wales were laid to rest this week in an FAQ released by Clarence House on the occasion of Charles’s birthday, as part of the royals’ ongoing effort to put a more normal face on their sometimes remote heir. He doesn’t duck taxes, advocate use of dangerous alternative therapies or loathe modern architecture, according to officials. And he doesn’t spend any—repeat, any—time thinking about being king. All of which is too bad: those were things that made him interesting.
Now, put that wand away
No sooner is Barack Obama re-elected than his first Supreme Court appointee is out spreading his radical anti-princess agenda. Sonia Sotomayor appeared on Sesame Street to confront a pink muppet named Abby who was dressed as a Disney-style princess, telling her that pretending to be a princess “is definitely not a career,” and encouraging girls to be “a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer and even a scientist” instead. But her profession hasn’t been very helpful to Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who plays Elmo on the iconic kids’ show. He took a leave of absence after being accused of sexual misconduct, an accusation that was then recanted in a statement by the accuser’s law firm. Maybe he’d be happier if more people became princesses, not lawyers. Continue…
By Colby Cosh - Monday, May 17, 2010 at 6:16 AM - 46 Comments
Andrew Sullivan isn’t winning a lot of friends by challenging Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan on her sexual orientation. If all you see is headlines like “Answer the lesbian question, Ms. Legal Eagle”, you’re likely to write this new crusade off as evidence of the brain-porridgification Sullivan exhibited during his earlier “Show us the afterbirth, Madam Vice-Presidential Candidate” campaign. Not (quite) so fast!
…the White House reiterated last week that questions about sexual orientation “have no place” in judging a nominee (but her gender most certainly does). Quite how you defend this argument—from a president whose own criterion for nominees is a real experience of how law can affect ordinary people—is beyond me. It is also beyond most ordinary people out there.
The Obama administration embraced identity politics with the appointment of the “wise Latina” Sotomayor; now, with Elena Kagan, it is putting forward a Supreme Court candidate who appears to have almost no relevant public identity of any kind at all. It would be one thing if she had a long and detailed record of legal philosophizing or judicial rationes, but it appears that even Kagan’s friends aren’t too clear on her principles or on the fine details of her personal life. It’s a little weird; we not only don’t know whether or not the Republic is getting a “wise lesbian”, we don’t know what her basic ideas about the rule of law or the Constitution might be. (It’s only weird because it is happening south of the 49th parallel, of course. Up here senior appellate judges tend to explode instantly into being out of an impenetrable biographical void.)
This is naturally frustrating for Sullivan, who doesn’t, deep down, appear to believe there is any kind of politics other than identity politics. He is serving, and not for the first time, as the wild-eyed radical who takes a popular idea to its logical conclusion and tests it to destruction and beyond. Americans, by and large, probably don’t want a system in which a candidate for the Supreme Court is quizzed on the most intimate details of her life and personality. “Madam Solicitor-General, have you ever allowed a biologically male person to fumble awkwardly with the clasp of your brassiere, and if so for how long and on what dates?”
But Sully’s on board! Having faced odious intrusions into his own privacy, he is willing, even eager to extend to everybody the rules under which he has hitherto been forced to live.
And, ultimately, he has a point: if we accept the premise of identity politics, then we are going to need honest, detailed information about the identities of those who propose to rule—about the “life experiences” that they “bring to the table”, to use the childish liberal argot. Sotomayor was a fountain of such dreck until she came, unprepared, to the attention of an audience skeptical of identity politics—an audience, that is, who sees the “wise Latina” stuff not as a harmless toasty-warm piety, but as a tendency that would, if unopposed, turn government into an irrational contest of identity groups, an exercise in token-counting.
Sullivan’s Palin issues make more sense once you see him as an identitarian ultra-radical. He was unwilling to take Palin at her word concerning matters in which there was no really good evidence of lying and no convincing natural explanation for lies. He smelled a specific rat that almost no one else has yet detected. Why, even granting appropriate leeway to his editorial intuition, would he react so strongly to the sort of distasteful childmongering we’ve accepted from politicians for a hundred years or more?
Simple: if identity is to be everything in politics, then lying about one’s identity, adding artificial “richness” to one’s experiences, is the gravest sin. It makes the golden ticket of victimhood/otherhood available for a dangerously small price to brazen liars. The scrutiny to which we subject candidates for office—especially if they have no objective way of demonstrating their talent, intellect, or seriousness—must correspondingly be very intense, in a Sullivan World.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 12:50 PM - 2 Comments
A Supreme Court nominee brushes off ethnicity and gender
A curious thing happened on the way to the now-seemingly inevitable confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor, Barack Obama’s first nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. The nominee herself was transformed.
Sotomayor, a long-time appellate judge of Puerto Rican descent, who rose from a Bronx housing project to graduate summa cum laude from Princeton, had for years presented herself as a different breed of female judge than, say, the only two women who have thus far made it to the top court. When those trail-blazers, Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, graduated from law school in the 1950s, they had to justify why they were taking the place of a male student. O’Connor graduated third in her class at Stanford Law School, but the only job offered to her at the time was as a legal secretary. Every step of the way, Ginsburg and O’Connor were at pains to prove their equality. A favourite saying of theirs was that a wise old woman and a wise old man would reach the same conclusion when deciding cases. Continue…
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 3:00 PM - 131 Comments
In a world of imponderables, some old-fashioned detachment might serve us better
Empathy. You either got it or you ain’t. Sonia Sotomayor’s got it, which is why she’s just been nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. President Obama said that what he’s looking for in a big-time judge is “the depth and breadth of one’s empathy.” As he told his pro-abortion chums at Planned Parenthood, “We need somebody who’s got the heart—the empathy—to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old—and that’s the criteria by which I’ll be selecting my judges. Alright?”
Er, well, alright. But what does it boil down to in practice? Then-senator Obama voted against the confirmation of Chief Justice Roberts because the nominee said he saw the judge’s role as that of “umpire.” The President wants someone less hung up on the rule book. He likes to cite the case of Lilly Ledbetter, who sued Goodyear Tire for discrimination but ran up against the pesky old statute of limitations. An “empathetic” judge would presumably say, “Screw the statute of limitations.” Strange to hear the same folks who complain that Bush disregarded the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Constitution at Gitmo (both charges untrue, by the way) simultaneously hailing the ability to disregard inconvenient laws as the indispensable attribute of a Supreme Court justice.
By Jaime Weinman - Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 4:37 PM - 1 Comment
Is the President’s new Supreme Court pick a dig at the media?
President Obama’s choice of Sonia Sotomayor for the U.S. Supreme Court is most notable, of course, because (if confirmed) she will be the first Hispanic justice on the court. But it’s notable for another reason: it may be a sign of Obama’s lack of patience with the world of news punditry, which is pretty bad, but usually taken pretty seriously by political insiders. His press secretary, Robert Gibbs, has said that where the public is “may not necessarily be where cable television is,” and Obama may be trying to prove it with this nomination. Continue…