While mesmerizing audiences with soothing teleprompted speeches and a hypnotic cadence, the disconnect between his words and his actions is already well-established. And now, in her first week of Senate confirmation testimony, Judge Sonia Sotomayor has demonstrated that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the proverbial tree. Like President, Like Nominee: Obama and Sotomayor Render Language Increasingly Meaningless

In his brief political prime, Barack Obama has already established new lows in the art of dishonesty.

While mesmerizing audiences with soothing teleprompted speeches and a hypnotic cadence, the disconnect between his words and his actions is already well-established. And now, in her first week of Senate confirmation testimony, Judge Sonia Sotomayor has demonstrated that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the proverbial tree.

Americans received an early insight, of course, into Obama’s mendacity when he disregarded his solemn commitment to public campaign finance limits.

At the time he made that promise, Obama was just gaining traction in his primary campaign and significantly trailed Hillary Clinton. Accordingly, he pounced upon the opportunity to distinguish himself from Clinton by telling voters that he would accept public financing for the general campaign if he won the Democratic nomination. In addition, he attacked then-Senator Clinton for opting out of public financing during the primary campaign based upon her fundraising prowess.

This worked to his advantage at the time, considering Clinton’s enormous financial edge.

Upon securing an irreversible delegate lead over Clinton in March 2008, however, Obama quickly disregarded his promise. After raising record contributions that dwarfed Senator McCain’s donation reservoir, he counted upon a case of collective national amnesia and cynically became the first major party candidate to opt out of public financing during a general campaign.

Predictably, Obama rationalized his reversal by alleging that small contributors constituted his donor base, but that wasn’t true. The reality was that large donors and groups like MoveOn.org and Big Labor propelled his campaign.

Since that date, of course, Americans have been served with an endless parade of this dishonesty.

As the healthcare debate intensifies, for instance, Obama has abandoned his campaign pledge not to tax employer-provided benefits. During the general campaign, Obama absolutely savaged Senator McCain’s healthcare overhaul proposal, which might have shifted the federal tax incentive from employers to individuals. In a shamefully dishonest campaign commercial, Obama stated the following:

“McCain would make you pay taxes on your health benefits, taxing your healthcare for the first time ever, raising costs for employers who offer healthcare, so your coverage would be reduced or dropped completely. You won’t find one word about it on his website, but the McCain tax could cost you thousands, or even your healthcare. Can you afford it?”

Now, however, Obama slyly indicates his willingness to sign Congressional healthcare legislation that would tax employer-provided healthcare. This follows an onslaught of other reversals, such as his micromanagement of the auto industry while simultaneously claiming no interest in running a car company, and his promise not to raise taxes on anyone earning under $250,000.

In just six months in office, Obama has thus established an ignoble record of oratorical deceit.

And now, his nominee to the United States Supreme Court is establishing her own dossier in this regard, and assumed the same audience amnesia as Obama himself.

As one prominent example, Judge Sotomayor attempted to rationalize her infamous and oft-repeated “wise Latina” comment. She alleged that this was merely an isolated incident, and that she was somehow echoing former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s comment that a wise man and wise woman should reach the same conclusion.

Of course, this isn’t remotely true. Rather, Judge Sotomayor explicitly refuted Justice O’Connor in asserting that inherent, physiological differences would make her a better judge than a white male counterpart:

“Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life. Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case.”

Similarly, Judge Sotomayor attempted during her confirmation testimony that she believes in judicial restraint and objective adherence to precedent and the text of the Constitution. Yet in 2001, she stated that impartiality is merely an “aspiration,” and that “I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society.”

Judge Sotomayor’s assurances of judicial objectivity also contradict earlier statements that “the Court of Appeals is where policy is made,” and that “our society would be straight-jacketed were not the courts, with the able assistance of the lawyers, constantly overhauling the law.”

Simply put, Judge Sotomayor’s current words flatly contradict her long record of contrary rulings and comments.

In this way, however, she’s merely imitating the man who nominated her. But as Americans now oppose her confirmation by a 41% to 37% margin according to Rasmussen, and as Obama’s own ratings sink further into negative territory, both Obama and Sotomayor may begin to realize that the American people aren’t the fools that they assume.

July 16, 2009
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