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No Supreme Court Pick This Week (VS to Blame?) – Update

John on May 6, 2009 at 8:18 am

It appeared on Monday that Obama was set to name retiring Justice Souter’s replacement by the end of the week. Now CBS News has a story up about the White House suddenly hitting the breaks on the pick:

The presumed frontrunners for the position are already coming under close public scrutiny.

Sonia Sotomayor, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit who is considered the top contender for the slot being vacated by David Souter, is the subject of a critical article published Monday by the New Republic called “The Case Against Sotomayor.” Right-wing pundits have already taken up the article as ammunition against the case for promoting diversity on the Court, while others on the left are assailing author Jeffrey Rosen for shoddy and biased reporting.

To add fuel to the fire, a video recently surfaced of Sotomayor giving a speech at Duke University in 2005, in which she says courts are the place “where policy is made.” She qualifies her statement by saying, “I’m not promoting it and I’m not advocating it.”

That last paragraph is about the video Morgen posted here at VS late Saturday night. It was picked up by Hot Air and Ace before making its way to over 10K hits by tonight. So, you know, I’m not saying we had something to do with the White House about face on a nominee this week…not at all.

CBS is saying it.

They’re not alone. The NY Post devotes an entire article to the clip, calling it a “Supreme Screw-Up.” There’s also a brand new story up at the Washington Post this morning about the unusually small and politically charged team (led by Rahm Emmanuel himself) working on the selection. Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, the heart of the piece is a description of Morgen’s video clip.

The Post’s, Chris Cillizza is also covering the reaction to Obama’s potential nominees. He has this to say about a memo (one critical of the front-runners) which has been making the rounds:

The memo, which was sent to conservative activists around the country, goes on to lambaste the vetting process of the White House in regards to “its willingness to appoint to high government posts nominees who gave cheated on their taxes and have other ethical problems.” OUCH.

It also details the supposed flaws in the three leading picks for the Court opening: Elena Kagan (“a hard left activist record”), Sonia Sotomayor, and Diane Wood. (The Sotomayor image campaign is already under way with the surfacing of a YouTube video this morning that shows her seemingly advocating for judicial activism.)

Morgen and I laughed and laughed about that last line. An “image campaign?” Campaigns have budgets and staff and people to fetch lunch. Sadly we have none of that. And for the record, neither one of us has any connection to the memo or the group that’s circulating it.

But by far the most ridiculous reaction was the conspiratorial rant posted at Salon by Mike Madden:

The right is launching preemptive strikes against any judge Obama might want to pick, hoping to paint whoever the eventual nominee is as too far left even before a name surfaces. Someone anonymously posted a YouTube clip that seemed aimed at discrediting one potential nominee, Sonia Sotomayor; by Tuesday morning, it was flying around Washington by e-mail.

Hey, I won’t lie. I’m happy the clip was flying around Washington. But as for “anonymous”, are you kidding me?! The clip was posted by Morgen under his You Tube username which also happens to be…wait for it…his real name. If that weren’t a clue, the 35 second clip ends with the URl of this blog in big white letters. Put those into Google and you can click on our About page for the names, bios and recent photos of everyone who posts here. Don’t strain yourself doing research, Mike. [Seriously, how does this guy have a paying job phoning it in like this?] He continues:

Enough Republicans are pushing a similar message that it’s clearly coordinated. While not confirming that the response was a group effort, a GOP consultant told Salon that message control was a smart choice. “The news cycle and the public debate won’t just sit and idle until there is a nominee announced, so it doesn’t make any sense to just wait to put a frame around our arguments.”

So Tuesday brought unified talking points from most Republicans. “The president should be given every deference, as far as I’m concerned, but if they put up a nominee who doesn’t understand … judges are not supposed to run the country, they’re supposed to interpret the laws made by those who are elected officials — who have to stand for reelection — then, yeah there’s going to be a big fight over it,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who would have taken over the top GOP spot on Judiciary if not for term limits that ruled him out. “There’s no doubt in my eyes that [Obama's] going to nominate somebody who is far to the left of where I am. And I mean — he was elected as probably the most liberal president in history, and there are all kinds of expectations by him on the far left.”

So Republicans are trying to coordinate a message. Wow, that’s newsworthy stuff. And, yeah, it sure sounds as if Senator Hatch saw Morgen’s clip, but again, we have no connection to anyone in the party. [Surely if we did have such connections there would be some sweet Lakers playoff tickets waiting for us at will call tonight. Thanks, Hatch! Sorry about the Jazz.]

Sadly, we’re expecting to watch the game on TV.

This is the same reaction we saw from Democrats to the Tea Parties. They were sure it was all astroturfing even though, as we reported, it clearly was not. I think that’s what psychoanalysts mean by projection.

Update: CNN has a story up with one new tidbit I had suspected but which hasn’t been confirmed before now:

As far who is on the short list, the sources said the Obama vetting team is aware of recent heavy public pushback against Judge Sonia Sotomayor, considered by many to be a leading candidate. Conservative groups Monday highlighted on-camera remarks from 2005 where the 54-year-old federal appeals court judge said the “Court of Appeals is where policy is made.” Then laughing, she said, “I know, I know, this is on tape.”

Conservative blogs have cast the remarks as revealing Sotomayor’s support for “judicial activism” or legislating from the bench.

So, I guess the only thing left to say is…welcome to the blog, Rahm Emmanuel!

Addendum: Oh, one last note about news. The NY Times has a piece up indicating that the Sotomayor clip wasn’t the only one of ours circulating yesterday:

On Monday, some insurers and Republican lawmakers circulated a video clip of a recent speech by Representative Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois, in which she said insurers were right to fear that a public plan option could “put the private insurance industry out of business.”

Last month I applied to Google to make Verum Serum a source under Google News. They rejected us within 24 hours because, essentially, we’re too small to make news. Just want to say, good call there guys.

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