Friday, May 29, 2009

Words Matter

I am a lover of words; I love learning about their roots, how they fit together, and how the nuances of words impress different meanings depending on which word you choose; out of three or four words that have similar meaning, one will be able to best express what you want to say.
I tell you this, not to bore you to tears, but to bring up a point.
Today, the White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, said this about a comment the new Supreme Court nominee made:

"I've not talked specifically with her about this, but I think she'd say that her word choice in 2001 was poor."

Now, in case you don't know what she said, let me quote her:

"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."
The context was about gender: "our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging."

Wow! If a white male had said that, he would have been asked to step down from the bench.

Several things bother me about this. First, that she said it, and second that the best "excuse" the White House could come up with was that she chose her words poorly.
We've all had moments where we say something dumb, but we're paying this woman TO choose words carefully as she adjudicates; she should be more well spoken than the White House is claiming.
Secondly, if Robert Gibbs is going to allow a question about this in the press briefing, don't you think he would have ASKED HER, so he could QUOTE her?

No, I think this is a carefully orchestrated attempt at continued judicial legislating. This woman knew perfectly well what she was saying; she's also quoted as saying: "The court of appeals is where, before the Supreme Court makes the final decision, the law is percolating — it’s interpretation, it’s application."
And this: "Because it is...[the]court of appeals is where policy is made."

Make no mistake, words DO matter, and I don't know about you, but I'll be listening.

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