8 a.m. ET: Supreme Court campaigns are unlike most others in politics, in that nominees usually make a point of not saying what they really believe, and are applauded for it.
So one day after pro-abortion rights groups made it clear they had "concerns" about Sonia Sotomayor's views, the White House moved to reassure them -- sort of -- that she would be on the right side of the debate from their perspective. Of course, Sotomayor's public record on the issue is thin, and she and President Obama supposedly never discussed abortion. So Robert Gibbs didn't come right out and say yesterday that she supported Roe v. Wade. Instead the press secretary spoke of Obama being "comfortable with her interpretation of the Constitution." And we all know what that means, right? As Eric Idle once put it so eloquently, "a nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat."
Code words abound this morning, and so the delicate discussion of Sotomayor's "temperament" continues. She has "a blunt and even testy side," according to the New York Times this morning, traits that surely no one on the Senate Judiciary Committee possesses. Her supporters wonder whether her "assertiveness" and "aggressiveness" would be an issue at all if she were a man. Casting those code words aside, her detractors go further, tagging her as "nasty," "angry" and a "terror on the bench." As for another label lobbed against Sotomayor -- "racist" -- John Cornyn is urging his party not to use it. (On a related note, Cornyn's home state of Texas has a large Hispanic population. But according to an interesting new item on FiveThirtyEight, the data shows "Hispanics were not a key component in Obama's win." Read the whole thing, as they say.)
We've also learned this morning that Sotomayor developed some of her initial views on race at the same place Michelle Obama did several years later -- Princeton. And we know that Sotomayor is at least discreet, as she was able to dodge reporters staking out her New York apartment last week and sneak down to Washington for her meetings at the White House.
Beyond the Supreme Court, in the near term Obama is emphasizing the economic stimulus package, dispatching administration officials to several states next week to promote the measure. The White House also remains focused on the auto industry, as GM is set to enter bankruptcy court Monday after days of furious negotiations between the administration and the company's bondholders.
Domestic policy is not the only preoccupation for the administration this week. Obama met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday, as a growing rift between the White House and Israel over Jewish settlements came into view. As for North Korea, Robert Gates said the country's nuclear weapons tests do not represent "a crisis," though they are "provocative" and "aggressive." Reassuring, isn't it?
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