What they're really saying in that Senate hearing room
This is some novel reporting, and better than a lot of other Senate/Court coverage out there right now.
In the polite but white-hot world of confirmation
hearings, senators and witnesses don’t always say what they want to
say. So they speak in code.
Here’s a translation of what was said in Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing, and what the players actually meant:
WHAT SHE SAID: “If I introduced everybody that’s family-like,”
Sotomayor said with a strong voice and a smile, “we’d be here all
WHAT SHE MEANT: I may not look like all of you but, trust me, I’m no
different from every other family-loving American. I’m surrounded by
people who love me.
WHAT HE SAID: “Judge Sotomayor’s journey to this hearing room,” said
Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., “is a truly American
WHAT HE MEANT: If you love America, you’ll love Sotomayor — or at least vote for her.
WHAT HE SAID: “The confirmation of Justice Louis Brandeis, the first
Jewish-American to be nominated to the high court, was a struggle ripe
with anti-Semitism,” Leahy said. “Likewise, the first Catholic nominee
had to overcome the argument that, as a Catholic, he’d be dominated by
WHAT HE MEANT: Criticize Sotomayor at your own risk. You don’t want to sound racist.
WHAT HE SAID: “Let no one demean this extraordinary woman,” Leahy said.
WHAT HE MEANT: Criticize Sotomayor at your own risk. You don’t want to sound sexist.
Good stuff. Creative thinking in that room packed with media and politicians.
WHAT HE SAID: “I expect this hearing and resulting
debate will be characterized by a respectful tone, a discussion of
serious issues, a thoughtful dialogue and maybe some disagreements,”
said Sen. Jeff Sessions, the committee’s senior Republican.
WHAT HE MEANT: This is a lifetime appointment, folks. We’re not going to roll over and play dead.
WHAT HE SAID: “Politics has no place in the courtroom,” Sessions said.
WHAT HE MEANT: Democratic politics has no place in the courtroom.
Read it all, and use it as a translation key for this week’s events.
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