Enemy of the Week

Unwise Non-Latinas

The most famous Latina since Queen Isabella wisely allows others to shine.

By 7.17.09

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One night last February we were on patrol for big government apologists in Fairfax County, our one-way radio tuned to WTOP, the authoritative all-news station of Washington, D.C., and what did we hear? Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was suffering from an early form of cancer. What kind? The yokel announcer said it was "prostate cancer." Our investigations wagon did a 360 spin. The fellow sure knew how to hit a defiant feminist where it hurt. Moreover, we feared for his well-being and the likelihood that he would join the ranks "of populations that we don't want to have too many of," as Ginsburg recently put it apropos her understanding of whom supporters of Roe v. Wade intended to target. Her remark came in a pre-Sotomayor hearing interview in the New York Times, where nobody stopped to ask, perhaps because they didn't have to, "What do you mean 'we,' Justice Ginsburg?" And where nobody bothered to apologize to Rush Limbaugh for ridiculing his use of the term "Feminazi," as if there could be no such thing.

We should not be too hard on the New York Times, which is going through a difficult stretch. Last month, to save on printing costs, it had to downsize its famous Sunday magazine, which now looks almost as puny and negligible as the Washington Post's own Sunday supplement. To be sure, the magazine's editor explained to horrified readers that the tiny font they were suddenly having to decipher was an improvement on the previous and easier on the eyes. We're all Obamas now. Or at least they are.

But sometimes we don't appreciate the NYT's contributions, even in an area as contentious and complex as climate change. Its print "Washington Edition" took the lead, predicting in the upper right hand corner of its Sunday, July 12 front page, "Today, mostly sunny, low humidity, highs in mid-80s. Tonight, mainly clear, lows in mid-60s." Those forecasts proved accurate, as those of us who live in the Washington, D.C. area could testify, under oath if need be. But then dread climate change kicked in, and Beltway-area readers of the July 13 paper's "Washington Edition" found walking up to this in the upper right corner: "Northwest: Partly to mostly cloudy west of the Cascades. Some thundershowers east of the Cascades in Washington, northern Oregon, Idaho. Weather map is on Page D8." Everybody talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it. Until the New York Times came along. Again, no one at the Times has reacted to this latest faux pas. Perhaps friends of the ill Kim Jong-il have hacked the NYT's weather bureau.

But there have been compensations from living here. This week, instance, we got to hear from the formidable Sonia Sotomayor. After the singularly unhappy Justice Ginsburg, she came across as a happy trooper, a fan of all-white male Perry Mason (Della Street was conveniently forgotten), macho Yankee baseball, and a taste for English elocution that could have her living permanently on the Upper East Side and guesting semi-annually on Charlie Rose. Already she has performed a major public service, allowing the nation to be introduced not only to herself but to Democrat interlocutors who made one yearn for the return of Hamilton Burger.

Take Rhode Island's new senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a blueblood who apparently inherited the time-worn patents to patronizing speech. "Your nomination caps what has already been a remarkable career legal career and I join many, many Americans who are so proud to see you here today," he said at his first opportunity. "And welcome again, your honor. I have to say, before I get into the questions that I have for you, that I, like many, many, many Americans, feel enormous pride that you are here today," he said next time around. "…it actually give me goosebumps to think about the path that has brought you here today."

But wait. "No, no, no, no, you can't say 'goosebumps,'" friends told him. "You have to say 'piel de gallina.'" "And so I promised them that I would…." One can only imagine how he speaks to his gardener.

Which brings us to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, whose main claim to fame is likely to remain that she is senior senator to Al Franken's junior role, notwithstanding the greater senatorial bearing Senator Smalley already displays. For instance, can we imagine him telling Judge Sotomayor, as chit-chatty Ms. Amy did, "I've been focusing on how patient your mother has been through this whole thing, because I ran into her in the restroom just now"? Regardless, no one was hurt.

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