Tuesday, May 11, 2010

True Stripes? Or Truism Stripes?

“At the Daily Beast, Peter Beinart says Kagan barred military recruiters from campus and that she should apologize. … Beinart writes that Kagan's shows her true stripes and that they are anti-military.”
—Emily Bazelon, Slate

What concerns me most about the public debate (such as it is) about Obama’s judicial nominees is that so much of that debate moves forward from erroneous statements of fact, which no one bothers to check for accuracy until after they become embedded truisms. As Emily Bazelon illustrates by looking at the actual facts, Kagan did not bar military recruiters from campus. The true stripes, in other words, turn out to be just truism stripes.

This type of factual error is endemic in the judicial-nominee wars when it is a Democratic president that is doing the nominating. To wit: the formulaic false claims about Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Goodwin Liu. (See "Sen. Jeff Sessions' Habitual Conflations and Misrepresentations," above.)

But usually the ones guilty of the misrepresentations of fact are people like Jeff Sessions and John Cornyn, not respected journalists like Peter Beinart, who is hardly a rightwinger.

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