Tuesday, October 11, 2005

It depends on what the meaning of "possible" is

Well, now there's a firestorm around Laura Bush, heretofore the most inoffensive woman on the face of the planet.

And just what is Ms. Bush alleged to have said? I'm not going to go into every detail. I'll just link to this post at Big Lizards (via Instapundit), for your perusal.

So, did Laura Bush in fact declare that critics of the Miers nomination were motivated by sexism? Read the transcript; you be the judge (unlike the unfortunate Ms. Miers). Did Ms. Bush indeed, as Reuters alleges, make the nefarious claim that, "it was possible some critics were being sexist in their opposition to Harriet Miers"?

Well, if so, I would just like to point out that, last time I checked, the word "possible" meant "within the realm of possibility." It does not mean "certain," nor even "likely;" in fact, it doesn't even mean "probable." It simply means "not able to be absolutely excluded as impossible."

If Laura Bush had answered the question Lauer posed as to whether "[s]ome are suggesting there's a little possible sexism in the criticism of Judge [sic] Miers," with the words, "No, absolutely not; it is categorically impossible," she would have been criticized for being stark raving mad.

Of course it's "possible" that somewhere, somehow, there are "some" critics who are indeed a little sexist in their criticism.

I think the entire blogosphere needs to take a chill pill.


At 11:35 PM, October 11, 2005, Blogger Meade said...

"I think the entire blogosphere needs to take a chill pill."

Would that you could in fact prescribe one.

At 3:02 AM, October 12, 2005, Blogger camojack said...

You are potentially correct...

At 5:58 AM, October 12, 2005, Blogger terrye said...

It is just possible that in some sense of the word you might be correct.

I actually saw this exchange and anyone watching and listening could ascertain that Laura Bush was responding to someone who was asking a leading question.

I guess she could have said "No comment".

the right is starting to look as whacky the left.

At 7:20 AM, October 12, 2005, Blogger Goesh said...

You are possibly right about the blogsphere needing to take a chill pill. Terrye is right, elements of the Right are appearing as looney as the fringe Left folks.

At 7:57 AM, October 12, 2005, Anonymous AGA said...

Ask anyone whether "there’s a little possible sexism in the criticism of Judge [sic] Miers," and if they answer, "no", they run into the buzz saw of "Not even a little?" "Not even possible?" "So, you are saying that it is impossible for there to be even a little sexism in the criticism of Miers?" Her answer perhaps should have included an acknowlegement that she was unable to speak for what motivates critics, but she did give her opinion that it was ignorance of Miers which was the prime causative factor. Those who feel incensed by Ms. Bush's response should really ask themselves why they feel so incensed.

At 8:09 AM, October 12, 2005, Anonymous Crosstalk said...

One thing I've appreciated about neo-neocon's blog (as well as those of drsanity and shrinkwrapped) is the psychological framework they use to analyze some people's responses. What we are seeing here is that these same mechanisms can affect those with whom we normally agree. This alone should serve as a bit of a warning to ourselves, especially when we quickly jump to a conclusion or say "I knew it!" to some news report we need.

The Laura Bush - sexist brohouha is also a reminder of this. Most of us probably ascribe to a view that the dominant media is somewhat (heh) biased and slanted in its reporting, and less than accurate overall. Like with the Katrina-Superdome reporting, many of us got suckered into believing the media reports, instead of adopting a "wait and see" attitude. (I am guilty of this.) Both these examples should serve to remind us to take dominant media reports with a block of salt.

At 8:10 AM, October 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This little firestorm has shocked-me-Centrist. Perhaps a tiny mirror-image bookend to Neo's reported transformation.

No matter how wacky and hostile the Left, I'll never again deeply identify with the dug-in religious social conservatives or the Kewl-Kid NRO wanna-WFBees again; not because they are not relatively sound on policy and culture angles much of the time, but because of the emotional, cultural, and intellectual desert climate this premature tantrum has revealed.

Ah, the value of letting life take its course, opining and acting where asked, and when the opportunity arises. Where did Edmund Burke ever promise them a SCOTUS full of Scourge-of-God chainsaws? And would they want it if they had it?

At 8:12 AM, October 12, 2005, Anonymous meander said...

After watching the video and reading a few of the critques, I think that Laura's use of the "it's possible" was merely a polite and non confrontational bridge to get to the points she really wanted to make. For heaven's sake, she is a politicians wife and has experience with moving an interview along. Neo, your take on this is totally reasonable and I'm sure Laura was not planning on waving the red cape to further enflame feelings. She wanted to skip past the sexism part as politely as possible and get her soundbites in on Harriet's accomplishments and the justification for the woman being a worthy nomimee. I can't believe conservatives are going into histrionics like Nancy Pelosi does and overreacting to every little thing said. Yes, a horse sized chill pill is very much in order!

At 10:07 AM, October 12, 2005, Anonymous the unknown Blogger said...

"I think the entire blogosphere needs to take a chill pill."

You GO, girl!

If I may be permitted another pious piety:

The blogosphere usually gets touted (especially among bloggers) as an alternative to the "MSM" but most of the time it functions more like an alternative to the TV and radio shout-fests...

At 10:17 AM, October 12, 2005, Anonymous Mike said...

I disagree with your viewpoint (a first in the month that I have been reading).
Your comment about “chill pill” assumes the conservatives are off the reservation and need to chill out.
Suppose I, as a friend have supported you through thick and thin for 5 yrs.
Then suppose I need a heart surgeon and you recommend Dr. Miers.
Instead of meekly saying—Gee sounds good to me, sign me up---, I balk at this suggestion and question her ability to perform a complicated surgical procedure.
And while I’m just looking for facts or dialog as an equal, I hear rumblings about my being sexist and elitist for not embracing Dr. Miers
Suppose you are aware of the fact that I have both male and female doctors in my preferred doctor list and know gender is not an issue.
Given these facts when you are asked “Do you think it’s possible there is some is sexism in his balking?” is an appropriate answer “Possibly?”.
Or does the answer “Possibly” smack more of an indication that in your opinion “Children should be seen and not heard” or “How dare you question the king, you serf”.
My annoyance with the Bush comment is on a deeper level. Sort of like when you’ve finally come to the realization that your “best friend”
viewed the friendship as a utilitarian one. Hence when your usefulness was gone, so was your value as a friend.
Just as I would like factual answers when looking at a doctor to perform heart surgery, I would like factual answers to what Ms Miers views are. And I don't think she is the most qualified.
Just telling me “Trust me, she is the best” reminds me of Lucy and Charlie Brown and holding the football.
But perhaps on a more basic level, I’m annoyed because I think I’ve been played for a fool for all the times I’ve held my nose when voting for Bush.
I may just sit the ’06 elections out. It seems the conservative principles do better when the republicans are in the minority than the majority.

At 10:30 AM, October 12, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

Total tempest in a teacup.

Is there anyone, anywhere, who thinks it's not possible that there was "a little possible sexism in the criticism of Judge [sic] Miers"?

Her answer was totally inoffensive and insignificant. I can't imagine why it's the least bit controversial.

From a brief search for mention of the issue, she seems to be getting pummelled more from the right -- William Kristol, e.g. -- than the left. I guess conservatives are touchy after expressing outrage at Ed Gillespie's suggestion of sexism a while back.

Besides, I like Laura Bush!


At 10:32 AM, October 12, 2005, Anonymous E.M.H. said...

The blogosphere? Take a chill pill??. Won't bloggers chilling out and speaking rationally violate some fundamental property of the internet somewhere? I'm sorry, but from what I remember from the days I was heavily into usenet, "restraint" and "posting" are mutually exclusive terms. :)

All kidding aside, NNC is right. Too many on the blogosphere, like too many on posting boards and the dear old usenet of times past and present act like they're actively looking for things to get pissed at, and choose to interpret things in the worst light possible, regardless of how (in?)accurate that interpretation may be. I don't know much about this latest Laura Bush and Supreme Court nominee scuttlebutt -- work's been so damn busy, I'm having trouble keeping up with housework, let alone current events -- but God knows I've seen this reaction on the internet before, no matter what the forum (blog, BBS, newsgroups, etc.). There's some property of such postings -- most likely the anonymity of it -- that lead some folks to let the worst aspects of their character come out. Just give them a subject-of-the-day, and WHAM! Instant rant.

Instarant? Heh...

At 10:45 AM, October 12, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

"No one else, including the White House, claims that Gillespie and Laura Bush meant anything else."

From Captain's Quarters.

The problem with the CPT is simple, on the one hand he talks about how the administration is desperate and failing in the defense/selling of the nomination, and then he talks about how the administration should have clarified Laura's statement(As if they are guilty till proven innocent) as if the administration have spy squads on every blogger and what they are writing.

"Given the chance to lay out a positive, substantial case for her nomination to the Supreme Court, the Bush administration has remained largely silent."

First the administration is making a mistake by not saying anything, then they should have said something and the fact that they haven't is proof that they are guilty.

The logic is perverse.

And it is sort of the same logic as what happened with the Tancredo Firestorm.

No matter how wacky and hostile the Left, I'll never again deeply identify with the dug-in religious social conservatives or the Kewl-Kid NRO wanna-WFBees again; not because they are not relatively sound on policy and culture angles much of the time, but because of the emotional, cultural, and intellectual desert climate this premature tantrum has revealed.

Obviously, you wouldn't, if all you heard was the bad news filtered through more bad news ala Iraq.

But for now, President Bush's apparently weak argument, "Trust me," is beginning to look much sounder. Perhaps the great Texas jurisprude, Lino Graglia, put this best, in an interview with Hugh Hewitt. To paraphrase: the Supremes are in the habit of arrogating to themselves decisions that should really be made by the people (on everything from abortion, pornography, and school prayer, to all-male military academies in the State of Virginia). Power naturally flows to their heads. Yet the Constitution had nothing to say about such things, and explicitly left what it had nothing to say about, to the people. It is this trust in the people that has made America the beacon she is.

And Harriet Miers may be exactly the sort of real-world type who can
understand that. And George Bush, from knowing her well over a long time, is
in a good position to know she knows. She doesn't need bells, whistles, and
law degrees from Harvard and Yale. It might even be helpful not to have

Warren began his piece with this confession:

In the week since [his initial announcement of opposition], much dust has settled, and it has become clear that Ms
Miers is acceptable to the broad rightwing Republican constituency, and to
not a few Democrats. She is despised, chiefly, by the rightwing
intellectuals (people like me), who were heartbroken that Mr Bush would pass
over the long list of brilliant, strict-constructionist legal scholars that
have arisen in response to the challenge presented by two generations of
often deconstructionist rulings by the same Supreme Court.

People who don't know enough, also can't make justified decisions at all.


At 1:08 PM, October 12, 2005, Blogger Holmes said...

Even I'm tired of this stuff. I really need to reduce my political intake to like 25% of my reading. Anything more is unhealthy.

At 1:13 PM, October 12, 2005, Blogger Robbie said...

The people prescribing chill-pills need one too!

The anger at the sexism charge seems to come from the Washington Post's skewed reporting of the incident. Malkin links to this headline: "Laura Bush says sexism possible in Miers criticism". It sounds as if she made the charge, and in this context "possible" is more like "likely but I'm being coy about it". The actual incident involved the reporter asking her the "loaded question" as some have called it.

Of course, you would think Malkin would be among the last people to mistakenly trust a MSM article. It seems people like her were already on edge from Ed Gillespie's sexism charge.

At 1:38 PM, October 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most terrible crime Bush has committed is in failing to be a mindless partisan hack. He is really a strong moderate, even when his party isn't, and never misses an opportunity to reach out to the "other side" of the political spectrum.

The same qualities that drive his enemies to literally commit suicide when they can't negotiate the cognitive dissonance their irrational hatred leads them into, is now driving right-wing nutcases to come out of the woodwork to attack him.

I hope his successor is just as infuriatingly moderate. Because Hillary "It Takes A Socialist Society To Raise A Child" Clinton certainly isn't.

At 2:56 PM, October 12, 2005, Blogger Michael B said...

The puppeteers, as regards this non-issue with the estimable Laura Bush, are the MSM. (Could be wrong, but I believe it was Cokie Roberts who actually did advance the sexism charge more seriously, without substantiating it.)

The puppeteers, as regards the Miers nomination, are the Gang of Fourteen, not the President, who is more simply making a political calculation, and an understandable one at that. McCain and the Gang of Fourteen should be the focal point; the President is dealing with the political realities - as is often said politics in the realm of the possible.

The Gang of Fourteen have capitulated to the Dems and Left/Dems in the Senate and are forwarding themselves as "leaders". However, in point of fact they're capitulating and manipulating for political ends rather than providing leadership in any more thoughtful and substantive manner.

At 2:56 PM, October 12, 2005, Anonymous Liz said...

Anonymous at 9:10 am on October 12 wrote:

"No matter how wacky and hostile the Left, I'll never again deeply identify with the dug-in religious social conservatives or the Kewl-Kid NRO wanna-WFBees again; not because they are not relatively sound on policy and culture angles much of the time, but because of the emotional, cultural, and intellectual desert climate this premature tantrum has revealed."

I've been reading and observing the "wanna-WFBees" at NRO with an increasing sense of dismay. There has been IMO a distinct whiff of elitism over there, long before the Miers business blew the lid off. It makes me tune them out for weeks at a time. I don't believe the lot of them together could even begin to fill the tippy-toes of WFB's shoes.

Your blog is wonderful, neo. From this lurker's point of view, you and Dr. S. are right on on this one. It really is a tantrum, and a chill pill is definitely in order.

At 11:24 AM, October 15, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I would be far more inclined to proscribe facts and reason rather than medical drugs. From a psychological point of view, psycho-drugs don't really help in the permanent sense.

At 6:01 PM, October 15, 2005, Anonymous tequilamockingbird said...

Oh, for God's sake, are you people still discussing this?

It's a non-issue. Laura Bush is not guilty of all charges. Accept it and move on.


At 8:35 PM, October 17, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Someone needs to take two chill pills, just as a tranquillizer.


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