Ramesh Ponnuru unpacks his controversial description of Sotomayor as "Obama's Harriet Miers," explaining:
What I'm suggesting is that both nominees were picked because they were women, because they were members of politically valued groups (evangelicals in Miers's case, Hispanics in Sotomayor's), and because they were considered politically reliable by the people who picked them. Neither was picked based on her impressive legal mind, although the pickers in each case doubtless believed that the nominee exceeded some threshold level of competence. These parallels seem like more than enough to justify the title of a Corner post.
Okay. But, for future reference, when you analogize a current Supreme Court nominee to a past nominee who was widely denounced as a hack (even by members of her own party) and whose nomination was ultimately withdrawn because she was deemed unqualified, you probably should be prepared for people to think that was the point of your anology.
Ponnuru also takes a shot at those who noted Sotomayor's impressive academic credentials (Princeton and Yale), especially compared to Miers' (SMU and SMU):
I am, incidentally, enjoying the spectacle of leftists who spent years saying President Bush was a moron carry on about how insane and probably racist it is for anyone to doubt the intellect of someone who went to those schools.
Give me a break. Bush went to "those schools" during an era (actually, at the tail end of an era) when admission to those schools wasn't necessarily a sign of towering intellect, at least if you hailed from the right family, as Bush did. As Nicholas Lemann explained it in his 2000 New Yorker profile of Bush:
After Bush's class was admitted, Yale's new president, Kingman Brewster, Jr., a liberal-reformist New England patrician, brought in an insurrectionary new director of admissions, only twenty-nine years old, named R. Inslee Clark, Jr. Clark set about making Yale more of a national institution dominated by public-school graduates who were picked for their academic abilities. He made so many people mad that he lasted only five years in the job, but by that time the revolution was substantially complete. A good way of encapsulating the abrupt change from Old Yale to New Yale is this: George H. W. Bush is the eldest of four brothers. All four went to Yale. George W. Bush is the eldest of four brothers, too. He is the only one who went to Yale.
This approach, of course, spread to the rest of the Ivies, which is how Sotomayor, a poor Hispanic girl from the Bronx who went to a Catholic high school, got admitted to Princeton, from which she graduated summa cum laude. Of course, some of her conservative critics--not Ponnuru, who is "perfectly willing to assume that Sotomayor's IQ is north of 100"--won't even grant her that achievement. Michael Goldfarb over at the Weekly Standard looks at her impressive resume and asks:
Does anyone dispute that Sotomayor has been the recipient of preferential treatment for most of her life?
Honestly. Is there anything in Sotomayor's background--other than the fact that she's a Latina--that would lead Goldfarb to such a sweeping conclusion? I'm always reluctant to say someone's a racist, but I'm really struggling to come up with another explanation here.