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Tilting at Windmills

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May 29, 2009

JEALOUSY IS SO UNATTRACTIVE.... Stuart Taylor, one of Sonia Sotomayor's more enthusiastic detractors, offers this anecdote from the judge's time at Princeton.

In October 1974, Princeton allowed Sotomayor and two other students to initiate a seminar, for full credit and with the university's blessings, on the Puerto Rican experience and its relation to contemporary America.

Now, I look at that as pretty impressive. Willow Rosenberg notwithstanding, students are rarely offered opportunities to teach before they graduate. That Princeton extended Sotomayor a chance to lead a for-credit seminar, in addition to her summa cum laude degree and the prestigious Pyne Prize, suggests she must have been quite remarkable young woman.

The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb doesn't see it that way. His headline reads, "More Preferential Treatment?"

I went to Princeton but somehow I never got to teach my own class, or grade my own work. One wonders how Sotomayor judged her work in that class, and whether the grade helped or hindered her efforts to graduate with honors.

Hmm. When a prestigious university offers a Latina student an opportunity to teach, and fails to offer a white male student the same opportunity, it could be the result of "preferential treatment" relating to the Latina student's ethnicity. Then again, it could have something to do with -- and I'm just throwing this out there as a possibility -- the fact that the Latina student was simply smarter and more impressive than the white guy. Really, it happens.

Where Goldfarb sees evidence of "preferential treatment," I see evidence of excellence. Chalk it up to competing worldviews, I guess.

Post Script: Also, note Goldfarb's suggestion that Sotomayor's seminar may have "helped" her graduate summa cum laude. The argument seems to be that she may have graduated with honors, but that was made possible by her "preferential treatment," such as the chance to "grade [her] own work."

In other words, we're to believe Sotomayor's summa cum laude honor is less than what it appears to be. How sad.

Update: Making matters worse, it looks like Goldfarb's criticism isn't even based on fact -- Sotomayor didn't teach her own class.

Steve Benen 1:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (72)

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Comments

When I was in the economics Ph.D. program at Vanderbilt, I got to teach an intermediate theory course after just 2 years in the program whereas many of my colleagues had to wait another year. I guess I got prefential treatment too, which is odd because I'm a white dude!

Posted by: pgl on May 29, 2009 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Um, maybe the Princeton administrators who approved the seminar thought that a smart, young woman whose parents were from Puerto Rico might actually know a little more about the "Puerto Rican experience and its relation to contemporary America" than your normal white male.

Posted by: Stephen Spear on May 29, 2009 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how much prep the Obama team had to do with Judge Sotomayor, in terms of getting her ready for the sheer amount of slime the GOP was going to throw her way.

Posted by: rob! on May 29, 2009 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Goldfarb, how about a nice big cup of Shut the Fuck Up? I didn't go to Princeton, and you don't see me whining online about "poor poor pitiful me".

Posted by: Breezeblock on May 29, 2009 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Look-- these wingers are just indulging in garden-variety bigotry. When even someone like dumb-as-a-brick Cornyn sees it and steps back from it, there's just no longer any need to euphemize.

Posted by: MattF on May 29, 2009 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Then again, it could have something to do with -- and I'm just throwing this out there as a possibility -- the fact that the Latina student was simply smarter and more impressive than the white guy. Really, it happens.

No way, can't be, does not compute in mind of white male wingnuts. Error. Error. Error.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on May 29, 2009 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

At my prestigious Ivy league institution students could petition to make seminars on almost anything they wanted (I took the one on wine tasting, mmmmm) and guess what: Some were student run! Some were run by teachers! NONE OF THEM HAD GRADES! That was why they were called seminars as opposed to classes.

Goldfarb is an idiot

Posted by: slapshot57 on May 29, 2009 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

How on earth did Goldfarb conclude that Sotomayor not only taught the seminar but also took it for credit, thereby grading her own work?

I don't see that anywhere in Taylor's story (and no university works like that).

Posted by: sarabeth on May 29, 2009 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, they're riding the Preference Pony into the ground. Take a look at this anecdote from today's AP story about Sotomayor:

On ethnicity, Sotomayor herself has recognized - and contributed to - the dichotomy. She proudly highlights her Puerto Rican roots but hasn't always liked it when others have. She once took issue with a prospective employer who singled her out as a Latina with questions she viewed as offensive yet has shown a keen ethnic consciousness herself.

Yet years ago, during a recruiting dinner in law school at Yale, Sotomayor objected when a law firm partner asked whether she would have been admitted to the school if she weren't Puerto Rican, and whether law firms did a disservice by hiring minority students the firms know are unqualified and will ultimately be fired.

So, apparently, being proud of your ethnic background means that you also have to nod and smile when people hint that the only reason you graduated summa cum laude from Princeton was because of your ethnic background.

And then the article goes on to whine that Sotomayor made a formal complaint against the firm and didn't rescind it when they offered her an interview in response to the complaint. Because everyone wants to work for a law firm where the partners are convinced you're stupid, amiright?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on May 29, 2009 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

How come nobody's pointing out the preferential treatment Goldfarb received when he was admitted to Princeton under it's "Retarded Jackasses" program?

Posted by: jonas on May 29, 2009 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

It's all very simple. When a white person shows some initiative, it's a wonderful testament to that individual's parents, character and intelligence, as well as proof that our country is an amazing place to reward such initiative.

When a minority person — female, black, hispanic, asian, gay, whatever — shows some initiative, it's indicative of inadequate parenting and a pathetic dependence on affirmative action promulgated by a diseased society bent on its own destruction.

See how easy it is? Gosh, who knew being a Republican was so relaxing?!!

Posted by: bluestatedon on May 29, 2009 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

As a Princeton graduate of that same era, I can assure you that summa status would NOT have been conferred based on ethnicity, sex, or any other such quality.

Moreover, let us recall that, while the average admission rate at the time for applicants NOT children of alumni was somewhere south of 20%, that for children of alumni was up close to 50%.

In other words, white kids who were the children of white males who went to Princeton had HUGELY "preferential treatment."

And I can also assure you, it showed. It quickly became obvious who was a "legacy admit" and who was not.

Comments from the likes of Goldfarb, "born on third base and imagining they hit a triple," just make me sick.

Posted by: bleh on May 29, 2009 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

One wonders how Sotomayor judged her work in that class, and whether the grade helped or hindered her efforts to graduate with honors.

Ah, there's that phrase again, "One wonders." One wonders if these dickheads could see their own racism even if it were dyed red and oozing out of every pore. The smug superiority, the unabashed attitude of entitlement, makes me wonder how any of these dudes got through any school at all.

Posted by: Jim Strain on May 29, 2009 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Goldfarb is just testing Sotomayor's "empathy" for complete idiots.

The rest of us don't have any empathy for you, Michael - just pity.

Posted by: Chris on May 29, 2009 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Who would have thought that one of the big losers in this confirmation debate would have been Princeton University. First, they let Sotomayor into the school as an Affirmative Action student. Then, they utilize some really low standards for their honor system such that anyone with better than a D+ average gets to be a cum laude of some sort. Now, they apparently graduated Sotomayor with summa cum laude status based on discriminatory permission to conduct a seminar and then give herself a grade. I wonder when it will be that Princeton is going to have to get into this debate to defend the prestige of the school. I mean, to hear the GOP tell it, looks like Princeton's Ivy League status may be in jeopardy soon.

Posted by: PS on May 29, 2009 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Just a hunch, but even if she did take her own seminar, I'm guessing that that one grade wasn't the make-or-break factor in Sotomayor's earning the summa cum laude designation.

Posted by: Anne on May 29, 2009 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Any sentence involving a right-winger that begins with the words "One wonders..." should be ignored.

Unless it's "One wonders why anyone would pay attention to a hack like Goldfarb."

Posted by: drew42 on May 29, 2009 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Good point above on seminars, they probably weren't even graded beyond P/F. And one seminar had little to no effect on your final GPA.
I'm also guessing that if you wanted to conduct a seminar, you had to ask or apply, and that Goldfarb never had half the initiative of Sotomayor.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on May 29, 2009 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

What gets me is that the Republicans can't even do racism right. You are 'supposed' to have your main columnists find some decisions they can criticize -- and no judge has failed to make some rulings that can be criticized -- be all formal and respectful, and have your underlings, your minor talk-show hosts and your state commissioners be the ones who start the 'whispering campaign' about her ethnicity. (Okay, you know the Savages, Limbaughs and Becks will bring it out -- but you can 'disavow them' -- all but Limbaugh who you beg to shut up for a month.)

That way, your Senators can claim to be opposing her on grounds of 'judicial temprament' alone, while your 'shock troops' organize a letter-writing campaign to buck up those who might be wavering.

Instead, the Republicans have led with the racism card -- so strongly that a Cornyn has had gto disavow it if he wants to win elections in Texas.

But, by now, any 'legitimate' criticism -- from a Conservative perspective -- of Sotomayor will be looked on as disguised racism. Even more, the Republicans have made the same mistake that the Democrats did with Roberts. (Who, in retrospect, shouldn't have been confirmed, but who fooled many of us -- including, mea maxima culpa, me -- into thinking he was 'as good as you could get from a Bush.') By launching an attack against a popular, believable Conservative nominee that was bound to fail, it assured that when the much stronger case against Alito would be made, it wouyld be a 'there they go again' moment that was bound to fail.

Right now, if Obama has another choice to make, he could nominate ME (a pot-smoking bisexual with no legal training, though a better than average layman's knowledge of the law) and get me through.

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on May 29, 2009 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

I went to Princeton but somehow I never got to teach my own class...M. Goldfart*********************


Ahhhh, poor babay! (Sad violin music fills the air, whining and whimpering heard in background, foot stomping and cries of "It's just not fay-er!!") Wah, wah, wah.


Oh, by the way, if I was a Princeton administrator, I'd be hitting back right now, HARD. These slams are not only insulting to Sotomayor, they de-legitimize Princeton as a university of academic integrity. Nice for an alumni to promote such attitudes. Kind of calls YOUR own degree into question too, doesn't it. I mean, IF they are the kind of institution that does what Goldfart claims, them who knows what else they would be willing to do for 'legacy white boys'.

Posted by: In what respect, Charlie? on May 29, 2009 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

What's his explanation of Sotomayor winning the Pyne Prize at Princeton, given to the most outstanding student (usually the student with the highest GPA)? Were all her professors unfairly giving her A's because she's Puerto Rican?

Posted by: Cardinal Fang on May 29, 2009 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

i think jungian psychology would back up the claim that we would have to invent a michael goldfarb had he not volunteered to step forward into the universe.

what a paradigmatically sad, snotty-nosed, adolescent pseudo-intellectual, white-male-privileged, arrogant asshole...

and i believe somewhere in dante's comedy there is a goldfarb character who causes all the angels in heaven to weep...

Posted by: neill on May 29, 2009 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

This is the kind of argument I might expect on talk radio, but you would think that readers of National Review and Weekly Standard actually know something about college. They might know, for example, that affirmative action programs help people get into college. They don't help them excel.

Posted by: Danp on May 29, 2009 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

With respect to sarabeth, 30 years ago I taught a class on college radio -- it was the only way we could keep the station on the air over the Summer semester.

Even though a PhD was the de juris instructor, I was the one who did the work and issued the grades. I gave myself an A.

It was the only time I made the Dean's list.

Posted by: unca paul on May 29, 2009 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

They allowed her to **initiate** a seminar. Most likely, that means they let her organize one, providing she found a professor to oversee it, attend, and assign grades.

As a no-longer youthful white male, I am having a hard time countenancing the utter stupidity and vileness of all the right-wing attacks on Sotomayor. (I regularly have a hard time countenancing their stupidity and vileness, but they are just losing it completely on this one.)

The irony is that I still have not been convinced that Sotomayor is as progressive as I'd like (I want another Marshall or Brennan, not another Stephen Breyer) (although I'm going happily along on the basis of trust in Obama's choice).

Posted by: N.Wells on May 29, 2009 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

As a senior undergrad at Tufts, I co-taught a seminar with another senior undergrad. She was an Asian woman; I'm a white guy. How does that stack up with the whole "preferential treatment" analysis?

BTW, we had a faculty advisor (who was largely non-existent) and were graded pass/fail. I suspect it was much the same at Princeton.

Posted by: K Ashford on May 29, 2009 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

It's a fact: while he was an undergrad, Yale administrators and faculty begged GW Bush to teach an intermediate economic theory course. He begged off, that he might better devote his time to the study of international relations.

Posted by: JL on May 29, 2009 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Does "initiate" mean teach? Maybe she just organized it? Maybe -- almost probably -- there was a faculty advisor overseeing the process. My kids went to Princeton, and there are two things that stand out senior year: everybody has to do a year long project, often quite inventive and ground breaking (my son directed "A Little Night Music," for example) and involving other people, and the Pyne Prize is a VERY big deal, in no way handed out like one of ten door prizes to people everyone wants to like or thinks they should like. Also, to get the Pyne Prize it is my understanding that your work has to be startling good in every way and it, too, often involves enriching a community (local, academic, etc.). The Pyne Prize signifies the approval of the entire university for someone; it's not an award for, say, a kid who's merely a great mathematician or English major.

Posted by: sf on May 29, 2009 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

The Press Release describing the seminar says that as of that date there had been 132 such seminars initiated by students. There is no indication that the students grade their own work, and Sotomayor's seminar was taught by a history professor, not Sotomayor herself. Goldfarb is either a liar or ignorant, and probably both.

http://www.princeton.edu/pr/pictures/s-z/sotomayor_sonia/PressRelease1974.jpg

Posted by: Dave Munger on May 29, 2009 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

rob!,

Sotomayor strikes me as someone who set her sights on her goals years ago and knows full well what to expect. If I were in her shoes, I would take a special kind of pride at being part of the team peeling back the curtain and continuing the exposure of the GOP for the racist anti-intellectuals they are. I would wear their weak criticisms as a badge of honor.

...looks like Princeton's Ivy League status may be in jeopardy soon. -PS

Well, they did admit and graduate Goldfarb...

Posted by: doubtful on May 29, 2009 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

This pick was an invitation for the Repugs to show their selfish, greedy, racist, and ignorant selves. And they accepted! This is a battle they should have either not fought or fought stealthily. These guys can't even run a political party and we're supposed to let them run the country, again.

This is a triumph of careful and deliberate planning. Obama gets to signal to hispanics that they too are valued citizens; he gets a great candidate to replace Souter; and he sets up the Repugs to make complete idiots out of themselves.

Posted by: John Henry on May 29, 2009 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

This is all of a piece with the "Obama is lucky he's not white so he can take advantage of white guilt and get votes..." shtick. But on a much smaller, more personal, and more pathetic level. Basically a whole shitload of white guys of the same age as either Obama or Sotomayor have suddenly looked around and realized that the people they never gave a second glance to in school--the nerds, geeks, minorities, scholarship kids--have eaten their fucking lunch.

Goldfarb manifestly settled for a life of simply getting by. Princeton was just another ticket he punched, or had punched for him, on his ride to a secure place in the right wing, middle class, hierarchy. And now he's full of coulda/shoulda/woulda regrets that Michelle and little Sonia have more than lapped him and he won't exactly be mobbed at the reunions.

aimai

Posted by: aimai on May 29, 2009 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Steve could run seminars on '21st Century politics in a multicultural country' for the right. He certainly seems to empathize with them in terms of the predicament they brought upon themselves.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on May 29, 2009 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

The irony is that I still have not been convinced that Sotomayor is as progressive as I'd like (I want another Marshall or Brennan, not another Stephen Breyer) (although I'm going happily along on the basis of trust in Obama's choice).
Posted by: N.Wells

Just as the Court has shifted significantly to the right over the last 30 years so that Stevens who was middle of the Court is now extreme left wing, so Obama is starting the move back, slowly with a moderate pick. I suspect he will make increasingly liberal picks through 2016. Hopefully the next President will have the good sense to appoint Obama to the court on the first 2017 vacancy. dramatically

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on May 29, 2009 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Might just be me, but when I read somebody whining about how unfair life is, and that gripe begins with the phrase "I went to Princeton..." I just figure everything else the whiner is going to write is stupid. Kinda like listening to Paris Hilton cry about how hard it is to be pretty and popular.

I sorta wonder if Sotomayor asked to initiate the class (sounds like she did) and if Goldfarb ever asked to initiate a class himself (sounds like he didn't). Chances are this sniveling little crybaby would've called Sotomayor a suck-up for showing that initiative had they been at school at the same time, and now he wants her to be punished for said initiative. Nuckfut.

Posted by: slappy magoo on May 29, 2009 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I've never understood the conservative worldview, but it's their views on race that truly perplex me.

For them, if a white guy comes from nothing and has success, it's due to hard work and determination. But if a non-white non-male does the same, it's only because of affirmative action.

The problem with that thinking, however, is that such cases would prove affirmative action actually works -- if minorities are given a foot in the door, they can go on and succeed. But conservatives can't admit that.

So they instead claim that the non-white non-male not only benefited from affirmative action, but did so without actually being as qualified as the white guy. Because, you know, that may mean white males are no longer superior. And they can't have that, either.

It really is a perverted way to view things ...

Posted by: Mark D on May 29, 2009 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Follow the links. It's not hard.

http://www.princeton.edu/pr/pictures/s-z/sotomayor_sonia/PressRelease1974.jpg

Initiate does not mean teach. The course was taught by historian Peter Winn, then a young Assistant Professor. He's a distinguished Latin Americanist.

"Initiate" simply means that students pressed to get the seminar offered. Even the most brilliant undergrads don't teach university courses, much less grade themselves.

Posted by: Colin Danby on May 29, 2009 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

I've never been to Heaven, but is it true that when you get there St. Peter's first question is, "Are you a White American"?

Posted by: Mike on May 29, 2009 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

You wrote:

"When a prestigious university offers a Latina student an opportunity to teach, and fails to offer a white male student the same opportunity, it could be the result of "preferential treatment" relating to the Latina student's ethnicity. Then again, it could have something to do with -- and I'm just throwing this out there as a possibility -- the fact that the Latina student was simply smarter and more impressive than the white guy."

Of course there's no way to tell which of the two possibilities here was the correct one .... oh wait? The white guy was Michael Goldfarb? Never mind.

Posted by: Aaron Baker on May 29, 2009 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.princeton.edu/pr/pictures/s-z/sotomayor_sonia/PressRelease1974.jpg
Posted by: Dave Munger on May 29, 2009 at 1:39 PM

Dave,
Thank you for doing the research for us.Imagine 132 previous seminars initiated by students. No doubt initiated by 132 other "unqualified" students??

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on May 29, 2009 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

In the conservative world view, the only people entitled to preferential treatment are rich and white. Want an Ivy Legue education, but have mediocre grades? No problema, if Daddy is an alum and you have lots of money. For the rest of us, grab your bootstraps and pull! Of course, women and people of certain racial or ethnic backgrounds will have to pull a lot harder.

Posted by: AK Liberal on May 29, 2009 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

When the people who actually studied with her, worked with her, and knew her personally and professionally start coming out of the woodwork, these guys are going to look like such numbskulls. However, they really have jumped the gun in predefining her as a person and as a qualified jurist.

Posted by: bcinaz on May 29, 2009 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking from another ivy around the same time frame: Yep, there were provisions for students to propose seminar courses (with faculty oversight and approval)to be taught by regular faculty, outsiders or some combination thereof. Yep, the course were graded. Yep, students who initiated such courses often did quite well in them (duh). Preferential treatment? not so much. Sometimes the students who initiated a course didn't even get in if it was seriously oversubscribed.

Posted by: paul on May 29, 2009 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

For them, if a white guy comes from nothing and has success, it's due to hard work and determination.

Unless the white guy is Bill Clinton. Then, all bets are off.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on May 29, 2009 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

The whole "I went to Princeton, too" thing is hilarious. Like, you know, everyone at Princeton should've been able to teach a class and grade themselves so they can get summa cum laude, but for some reason, only the poor Hispanic chick got the chance...

I went to a pretty good school myself - not Princeton but pretty good. And there were tons of very smart, very driven people there. But some were simply a cut above. I was not one of those. Neither was, apparently, Michael Goldfarb. Sonia Sotomayor was.

You see this in every discipline, by the way. There's not much, really, that seperates a guy like Albert Pujols and your average utility man.

Posted by: Joshua on May 29, 2009 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

You see this in every discipline, by the way. There's not much, really, that seperates a guy like Albert Pujols and your average utility man.

Great example, Joshua. Pujols is just another Affirmative Action hire.

Posted by: Tea Bagger Jones on May 29, 2009 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

I never got to play on my university's varsity football team. Clearly this has nothing to do with the fact that I never tried out for it, but instead shows that my university discriminated against me!

Michael Goldfarb, you are a douche.

Posted by: Royko on May 29, 2009 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

>> Willow Rosenberg notwithstanding, students are rarely offered opportunities to teach before they graduate.

Poor Jenny Calendar ...

Posted by: Hoosier Paul on May 29, 2009 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

I went to Princeton but somehow I never got to teach my own class, or grade my own work.

That's because you're an idiot.

Posted by: JM on May 29, 2009 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

To all who have gone hysterical with President Obama' Supreme Court nominee, (particularly Mr. Goldfarb):

Go home, have a good, good cry, and then and only then, come back with a better attitude and a better understanding of your own bigotry! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on May 29, 2009 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Obnoxious whining!!!

The underlying tenor of these articles is that 'if only I had been a poor Puerto Rican woman growing up in the tenements' or 'if only I had been a black male growing up with in a single parent household', I would have been given preferential treatment and would have gotten further in life!

There are solid reasons to believe that there are areas where 'preferential treatment' is still needed to address prior and/or continuing problems that minorities face. In the face of that, there is no evidence that either Obama or Sotomayor received any preferential treatment in education or employment.

Posted by: AmusedOldVet on May 29, 2009 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, Goldfart failed to read the link to Princeton's news release announcing the student-initiated seminar. If he had, he would have realized that Sotomayor and her three partners did *not* teach the class, they only proposed it, developed the syllabus and reading list, submitted their proposal for academic review and enlisted a professor to actually lead the seminar. All as part of an ongoing program at Princeton allowing students just this sort of participation in their education.

Once again, those pesky facts have gotten in the way of a wingnut talking point!

Posted by: Annandale Fats on May 29, 2009 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Barack Obama has handed the GOP thirty feet of rope, and the GOP has enthusiastically and expertly fashioned a hangman's noose, placed it around its own neck, snugged it up under the chin with a smile, and is happily contemplating the wonderful feeling of moral certitude born of complete ignorance as it kicks the chair out from under itself.

Posted by: bluestatedon on May 29, 2009 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

She didn't teach it. Via Media matters is this Princeton press release:

So they [Sotomayor and two other students] did what scores of other Princeton Students have been able to do for the past six years: they initiated their own seminar ... The seminar is being taught by Dr. Peter E. Winn, Assistant Professor of History and a specialist in Latin American affairs. Under a plan adopted by Princeton in 1968 students are free to propose seminars on special topics to a faculty Committee on Course of Study. ... In the past 12 terms 132 such courses have been approved and offered."

http://mediamatters.org/blog/200905290015

Posted by: Mike S on May 29, 2009 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

How I'd love to see a high up muckety muck at Princeton issue a press release asking Goldfarb to stop referring to himself as having gone to Princeton, lest he bring the rep of the whole school down.

Posted by: slappy magoo on May 29, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Michael Goldfarb: "Wwaaahhh!"

Posted by: kc on May 29, 2009 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah but Willow got to teach before she graduated high school.

Posted by: Nothing but the Ruth on May 29, 2009 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

As others have stated, at Princeton in that period it was not unusual for students to initiate a seminar. Some friends and I did the same thing in 1980. We didn't teach the course. Richard Falk and a grad student, Andy Reding, were the instructors.

This is beyond idiocy.

Posted by: Jeff N. on May 29, 2009 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

I think Goldfarb should release his transcripts at Princeton so we can determine whether he has standing to say anything about a summa cum laude student.

And BTW, initiating a seminar is a HUGE responsibility which has a larger chance of ruining your academic prospects than helping.

You have to be very organized and self-motivated to make an event like that effective for the attendees. It didn't seem to hurt her achivements.

Posted by: bdop4 on May 29, 2009 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that she's been a federal judge and now is a nominee to the Supreme Court and Michael Golbfarb is a journalist at a right wing fringe magazine says all that needs saying.

Posted by: Robert Abbott on May 29, 2009 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

We should commend Michael Goldfarb for his ceaseless efforts to disprove the ancient anti-Semitic slur that all Jews are really smart.

Posted by: TCinLA on May 29, 2009 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Why do we care about Sotomayor, in particular? If she isn't confirmed, Obama will pick someone else who is more or less the same thing. The Repubs can't deny *every* Obama pick, so eventually a solid nominee will get through. Who cares?

Do we know something about Sotomayor in particular that makes us believe she is a really good choice, better than alternatives?

Cuz it feels like there is an element to the left's defense that is just reflexive push-back to the reflexive resistance the Repubs are throwing out. Goldfarb doesn't believe what he is writing, he's just churning out advertising product for the machine he works for. Sometimes this site looks like the same thing for the Democratic side.

Now it really *does* look like the basis of a lot of the Right's propaganda is capitalizing on latent racist beliefs. Sexist too. (I think they use what they can find, and what they know works). And people should probably expose that garbage as early and often as they can.

So good on Mr. Benen, etc., for trying to embarrass the dickheads who use that stuff. But I also believe Mr. Benen would be just as vociferous, just as indignant, defending whomever Obama nominated, against whatever tactics the right were using.

Posted by: flubber on May 29, 2009 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

It's amazing what "conservatives" come up with.

John Kerry's Silver Star's weren't for valor he must have cheated. Judge Sotomayor's academic credential's weren't earned.

Next we'll hear that she passed the bar because she dressed well.

Posted by: c. on May 29, 2009 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Prior to giving herself a grade in the seminar she taught, Maria Sotomayor had a meager 2.0 GPA. She awardered herself an unprecedented 9.0 GPA, and was thus able to graduate suma cum laude.

Or something like that.

Frankly, i have little time to figure out what her scheme was here. I'm still having trouble worrying about how she'll rule in Taco's vs Hamburgers. Especially since now I have to worry about her period influencing her decision as well.

Posted by: Kevin on May 29, 2009 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

"Then again, it could have something to do with -- and I'm just throwing this out there as a possibility -- the fact that the Latina student was simply smarter and more impressive than the white guy. Really, it happens."

No.
There is a world view currently on display that dictates that it does not ever happen.
That being a wealthy white male confers so many advantages in this society because of natural superiority that it is, and should be, impossible for it to happen.

Posted by: thebewilderness on May 29, 2009 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Why do we care about Sotomayor, in particular? If she isn't confirmed, Obama will pick someone else who is more or less the same thing. The Repubs can't deny *every* Obama pick, so eventually a solid nominee will get through. Who cares?

Because some of us would prefer to see a discourse in which opponents of the nomination could bring something other than barely concealed racism and blatant stupidity. If Sotomayor's nomination fails because such slime is not rebutted forcefully, the slime merchants learn once again that slime works, and all subsequent nominees will be treated similarly. And future nominations will be shaped by the anticipation of slime being used successfully against prospective nominees.

Even if you believe that Obama could have nominated someone better, if you have an interest in a better discourse, you have to push back against the slime and stupidity, lest they win. (And I think that had Obama nominated a white man, Steve and WM commenters would be pushing back equally hard against whatever dubious arguments were being made there.)

Posted by: Jeremy B. on May 29, 2009 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Oh for f**k's sake, have none of these idiots been to college? Of course she didn't grade her own work in the seminar - organizing and conducting such seminars are part of coursework and are graded by a faculty member. It's kind of like being a TA.

Posted by: g on May 29, 2009 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin at 3:45, hilarious.

Posted by: shortstop on May 29, 2009 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm, he's using that same catchy little phrase that Barnesy and "the Gambler" used - "One wonders".

When will the GOP finally hit rock bottom and stop digging? One wonders.

Posted by: ckelly on May 29, 2009 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

How in the name of all that's holy did Goldfarb get into Princeton? Did he actually graduate or is his diploma from one of those places that offer you the chance to "replace your diploma when it gets lost." If he got in, it obviously was because one of his relatives promised a bunch of money to the school.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on May 29, 2009 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

I just read another post by Steve below about an interview with Fred Barnes. He seemed to think that the only people who didn't graduate cum laude from Princeton were the D students. What does that say about our dear Goldfarb?

Posted by: Texas Aggie on May 29, 2009 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

Update: Making matters worse, it looks like Goldfarb's criticism isn't even based on fact -- Sotomayor didn't teach her own class.
--------------------------

I honestly don't see why you think that this would even come close to bothering them.

Posted by: Fleas correct the era on May 29, 2009 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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