It Was Short, but Was It Wise?

Slate's Dialogue on the Sotomayor Hearings

It Was Short, but Was It Wise?

Slate's Dialogue on the Sotomayor Hearings

It Was Short, but Was It Wise?
E-mail debates of newsworthy topics.
July 13 2009 4:13 PM

Slate's Dialogue on the Sotomayor Hearings

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Finally, Sonia Sotomayor speaks … for less time than it takes a senator to clear his throat. I think I'm in the minority here, but I wanted more of her. Why not end the day on a bolder note?

Emily Bazelon Emily Bazelon

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones.

OK, OK, the answer is obvious. This way, the sound bites of the afternoon and evening and on through tomorrow's early-morning shows are of senators on the attack and Sotomayor soaring above them. She may not be a justice yet, but she is already playing the Olympian card. They were windy and overblown; she was gracious and understated. She started by thanking two of them by name (her home-state senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, for introducing her) and then the whole lot of 89 who met with her and in the process gave an "illuminating tour of the 50 states and invaluable insights into the American people." She gave her mother special thanks and pivoted expertly to how her mother studied alongside the judge and her brother, when they were kids, to become a registered nurse. "We worked hard," Sotomayor emphasized, punching out each word. I heard shades of New Haven firefighter Frank Ricci after his victory before the Supreme Court, when he said, "If you work hard, you can succeed in America, and all of these guys worked hard." Rhetoric ripe for reclaiming. Sotomayor's sweet-looking white-haired mother teared up, and who could blame her?

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Two other lines that stood out to me (nice and short, ready-made for TV and radio):

  • "My career as an advocate ended—and my career as a judge began—when I was appointed by President George H.W. Bush." Translation: She stopped pushing a cause when she stopped being a lawyer.
  • "In the past month, many senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy. It is simple: fidelity to the law." No translation needed.

—Emily

AP Video: Sotomayor's Statement

Click here to launch the Sotomayor Stopwatch.