By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Crowdsourcing Severin’s errors

Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh writes that he’s going to try crowdsourcing Jay Severin’s errors. Good luck with that. Here’s my first contribution, based on listening just to part of his first hour yesterday.

A caller ripped the media for hounding poor Sarah Palin while letting Sonia Sotomayor get away with not giving interviews. At least Palin answered questions, the caller said. How can the media let Sotomayor get away with not giving interviews? (I’m paraphrasing from memory, but that was the gist.)

“Great point,” Severin responded, without bothering to point out that Supreme Court nominees, by longstanding custom, are not allowed to grant interviews. As Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said yesterday, he wants to begin hearings sooner rather than later so that Sotomayor can finally be heard.

Severin had to know better. By not only not correcting the caller’s error, but by amplifying it and giving him an “attaboy,” I’d say that qualifies as an error. So put it on your list, Scot.

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  1. lkcape

    The custom that you mention, Dan, stems from Judge Bork's willingness to speak and Sen. Kennedy's viscous attacks. From then on the wise candidates kept their mouths shut. There is no law that requires their silence, and there is no reason, other than self preservation for it to continue. Liberal partisan politics has, once again, silenced the very open and free dialog that that is essential to democracy.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Ikcape: I'm pretty sure you're wrong. Bork got into trouble with his voluble performance at his confirmation hearing. I don't believe Supreme Court nominees have given interviews at any point. Indeed, as several experts have pointed out, it's only within the past generation or so that nominees have even showed up in person for the hearings.

  3. lkcape

    The point was, Dan, and still remains, that custom is not law and that there is no REQUIREMENT for the candidate to remain silent.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    By the way, it makes perfect sense that a president pick one sort of nominee if he's got (1) a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate; (2) another if he's got a slight majority; and (3) yet another if the other party controls the Senate. The trouble with Bork was that Reagan picked a #1 when politics dictated that he pick a #3. So let's not shed any tears for Bork.I'm in hurry, so I'm not going to track down links. But Republicans are now dislocating their shoulders from patting themselves on the back over their relatively easy treatment of Breyer and Ginsburg. What's left unsaid was that Clinton was in situation #3, and actually worked out a list of acceptable candidates with the Republican leadership ahead of time. So there would have been no reason to stage a fight. Breyer and Ginsburg are both regarded as moderate liberals, more technocrats than sweeping thinkers.And let's not forget Bush 2's misbegotten choice of Harriet Miers. How could he make such a terrible choice? One reason was that Harry Reid suggested her, ensuring a smooth ride at a time when Democrats controlled the Senate. As it turned out, she was done in by fellow Republicans.Obama's political position is almost a #1 right now, yet he's picked someone whose long record (as opposed to a few excerpts from speeches) suggests she's somewhere between a #2 and a #3.

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Ikcape: Let me help you out. Repeat after me: "You're right, Dan, the custom of nominees not granting interviews goes back well before Bork, and I was wrong suggest otherwise."That wasn't so hard, was it?

  6. Mitch Krpata

    Sarah Palin didn't answer questions. She gave a couple of well-choreographed interviews, but only a couple, and held no press conferences at all. Her lack of media availability was astounding for a vice-presidential candidate. I remember this because I got annoyed with how often Andrew Sullivan was beating that drum. (Here's a sample post.)But you can't blame Sotomayor for wanting to avoid the kind of thick, sticky attacks Senator Kennedy made on Bork.

  7. lkcape

    Let me help YOU out, Dan… CUSTOM IS NOT LAW and that is an error that perhaps Severin would like to add to his catalog of Kennedy's errors.As to where Sotomayor falls within the spectrum of choices? I think she is mediocre, at best. Her comments, while not necessarily disqualifying, are disturbing and should be so to anyone who believes in the rule of law. In the terms of the media, her handler's are walking those back as we speak, but like a bell, once rung, it cannot be un-rung.It's sad that Obama wasted his first Court pick by picking an transparently politically advantageous candidate rather than one who can articulate the Liberal position in a consensus-building fashion.Solicitor General Kagan would have been a much better choice.

  8. mike_b1

    I highly doubt that when it comes to the Supreme Court nominations, the liberal majority in this country is counting on lckape for solid, informed advice.Nice try, though.

  9. lkcape

    Mr. _b1: It is sad that you elected not to address the points raised. But hey, that is the "liberal" way is it not? ….Attack the person not the argument…

  10. mike_b1

    There were no points raised to address.

  11. lkcape

    More attacks, eh? So sad.

  12. Steve

    How would you expect Republican senators to react to the following?"Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that 'a wise old man and a wise old woman reach the same conclusion in dueling cases.' I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes the line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, if Prof. Martha Minnow is correct, there can never be a universal definition of 'wise.' Second, I would hope that a wise woman with the richness of her experience would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion."Republican senators Bennett, Cochran, Collins, Gregg, Hatch, Lugar and Snowe all voted in favor of confirmation of the judicial nominee who made this statement.

  13. lkcape

    It's the a priori assumption that one "class" of people reach better decisions than another that is offensive.I know truck drivers and store clerks that make better decisions than some Harvard MBAs or doctors or even judges. And then there are our politicians. Need I say more.

  14. Bill Toscano

    I think you're giving Severin too much credit, Dan. 😉

  15. Steve

    lkcape – your outrage rings false. The above statement was part of Sotomayor's confirmation hearings 11 years ago, and no one said "boo". Now there's all this angst. Why now and not then? How did all those Republicans vote for her last time, her statements notwithstanding?EVERYONE brings their own viewpoints, built from their life experience, to any intellectual exercise. Given a judges of equally capability, I would think a group with more varied life experience would render better justice than more homogeneous group.Sotomayor has an impressive and long record of jurisprudence. If you want to prove her unsuitability, there's a huge record to find evidence thereof. Objecting to a few words here and there isn't going to get it done. So far, that's all her opponents can muster.It's weak.

  16. Mike from Norwell

    Crowdsourcing? Given that TTK's ratings have been lagging, wouldn't crowdignoring be the better action? How does that old line go: good pub, bad pub, just don't misspell my name?

  17. krembo

    Severin addressed Scott Lehigh's column about keeping tabs on Jay's record. Perhaps the "Internet Pulitzer" claim is debatable, I believe I heard Jay make the claim that he graduated from BU with honors and then go on to say that he didn't complete *all* the requirements. Maybe it is me but I don't think they let you graduate until you complete everything that is asked of you. Therefore, I'm led to believe that you can't graduate with honors until you finish all the requirements of the program.

  18. Dan Kennedy

    Perhaps the "Internet Pulitzer" claim is debatable …How?

  19. mike_b1

    "I know truck drivers and store clerks"You could have stopped right there, lkcape!*GUFFAW!*

  20. krembo

    Dan,I've never heard Severin's actual wording about the Pulitzer but his excuse yesterday was that he originally said that he won the Internet's equivalent to a Pulitzer. Unless someone has the audio of him making the precise claim that he won a Pulitzer Prize how can we refute what he said yesterday?

  21. Dan Kennedy

    krembo: Scot Lehigh dealt with this several years ago, including Severin's actual quotes.

  22. lkcape

    Mr_B1… As your use of apicutre of an obscene gesture as an avatar demonstrates, you epitomize those who have yet to learn or refuse to use the fundamentals of civil discourse. Time to grow up.

  23. mike_b1

    Wow, lots of words in that response.

  24. lkcape

    And typical sophomoric intelligence in yours.

  25. mike_b1

    And yet you can't stop responding.Rush Limbaugh, I presume.

  26. sgpeople

    "I know truck drivers and store clerks that make better decisions than some Harvard MBAs or doctors or even judges."The Khmer Rouge agreed with you.

  27. lkcape

    How about Tom Finneran and Sal DiMaisi and Deval Patrick….How about the ex-wife of "Clark Rockefeller"?Hmmmmm…..I think that, on the whole, the man on the street has a better sense of right and wrong….

  28. mike_b1

    Right…. Since most criminals have Harvard MBAs and law degrees….

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