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July 14, 2009

Sotomayor Confirmation: The Tag Team of Kyl and Graham

kyl sotomayor.jpg

Great shot from Getty’s Mark Wilson capturing the dynamics today between the Sonia Sotomayor and the tag team of Senators Graham and Kyl.

Perhaps my repulsion was enhanced by listening to the lecturing and general condescension on the radio. (Really, Graham had the gall to try and bait Sotomayor into reciting the so-called “Latina Woman quote” — and from memory, no less?) As a result, it was only fitting to discover these Senators sharing this frame-within-a-frame, the tilted screen highlighting the fixed, turned-down mouth of the outlandishly-inflated Kyl alongside Graham, this perennial sidekick, alternating between thinly-disguised patronization (see above) and pure haughtiness.

Of course, what the photo primarily does is anticipate how the attacks net out, Sotomayor remaining largely peripheral to this right-wing, white male sideshow.

(image: Mark Wilson/Getty Images. Second day of Supreme Court confirmation hearings July 14, 2009. Washington, D.C.)

  • Blue Shark

    …as a middle aged, middle class, white guy…i’m embarrassed by these clowns.

  • mjf

    It’s the triangle of red. The extinguisher fire red – reinforced by the ‘f’ word on the wall that contextualises the image. Sotomayor appears as a block of red and the darkened monitor red of Kyl’s tie that is directly beneath the fire.
    I would actually read Sotomayor as dominating the image. She translates as a calm unmediated presence – given the location she appears to have the confidence and the self-belief to appear as she has before. Her blurred presence adds to her power and serves to focus attention on her questioners.
    Colonial and post-colonial intent is nearly always premised on the people. place and process of discovery and exploration being feminised and made ‘other’ and the act of exploration generally carried on by white men -hyper masculinised – who discover ‘stuff’ about everybody else except themselves. This is why Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III can ‘honestly’ believe and say that the white male norm is not a construct but a norm that everything else must be judged (and found less than) from and by.
    Kyl and Graham are in the process of conducting their ‘exploration’ of this “Latina Woman” and her capacity to make weak and potentially destroy (to burn white justice) the judicial process. In this discourse Judge Sotomayor will always be constructed/positioned as a weakness, an absence, a lack. Her capacity to gently resist this position with integrity, clarity and thoughtful push-back makes for frustrating times for people like Kyl and Graham. In reality Graham and Sotomayor would be looking at each other but in the image everybody seems to be looking elsewhere. It’s an interesting and thought-provoking disjuncture.

  • http://www.gongshangfa.com Rhodo Zeb

    It is probably cogent to mention that Graham is quite probably a closeted homosexual. He is, I believe, unmarried and there have been rumours for years about him, iirc.
    I love the self-indulgent little smile. Almost as ugly as Bush’s sneers.

  • Tena

    Rightwing white male sideshow is a perfect description because even the GOP has acknowledged that this is all political theater and that’s all they’ve got. So the Republicans have admitted that they are no longer a serious political party run by serious people – they are nothing more than political theater – bad political theater. And this performance during the Sotomayor hearing, so far, is one of the most useless wastes of everyone’s time I’ve maybe ever seen.
    And the GOP admits it.

  • paulimorph

    sca l i a r
    q uanta

  • Tena

    For some reason I hadn’t heard that rumor, but yesterday that was all I could think while watching Graham: “How latently homosexual are you?” kept going through my head -
    What is it with the GOP and closeted self-hating homosexuals? IF they could ever get their heads right they might be able to move off of ground zero with regard to their failings and they might be able to move in a forward direction. I’ve never seen such a large group of people

  • Apple

    Interesting photo. Sotomayer is colorful and is the real flesh and blood figure here (life). The two senators in the monitor are bland, colorless and two-dimensional (death).

  • Jeff

    I found it interesting to view the Washington Post’s photo galleries of the hearings — http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2009/07/13/GA2009071301792.html?sid=ST2009071202351
    Two photos show her in warm embraces (#16 and #5), one shows her physically reaching out to Sen. Graham (#3).

  • wagonjak

    Kyle was referring to my dad, the late US Federal Judge Carl A. Muecke in the fifth paragraph down…he rose to be the Chief Federal Judge of AZ, and being a liberal, he was hated by the Conservatives and the powerful there…his spotted owl decision saved much forest land and is still derided by Conservatives these days!
    KYL: If I could just interrupt, I think you just contradicted your speech because you said in the line before that, enough women and people of color in enough cases will make a difference in the process of judging.
    Next comment, the Minnesota Supreme Court has given us an example of that. So you did cite that as an example of gender making a difference in judging.
    Now, look, I’m not — I — I don’t want to be misunderstood here as disagreeing with a general look into question — into the question of whether people’s gender, ethnicity or background in some way affects their — their judging. I suspect you can make a very good case that that is true in some cases. You cite a case here for that proposition.
    Neither you nor I probably know whether for sure that was the reason, but one could infer it from the decision that was rendered. And then you cite two other studies.
    I am not questioning whether the studies are not valuable. In fact, I would agree with you that it’s important for us to be able to know these things so that we are on guard to set aside prejudices that we may not even know that we have.
    Because when you do judge a case — I mean, let me just go back in time. I tried a lot of cases, and it always depended on the luck of the draw, what judge you got; 99 times out of 100 it didn’t matter. So what we got? Judge Jones, fine. We got Judge Smith, fine. It didn’t matter, because you knew they would all apply the law.
    In federal district court in Arizona, there was one judge you didn’t want to get. All — all of the lawyers knew that, because they knew he had predilections that was really difficult for him to set aside. It’s a reality. And I suspect you’ve seen that on some courts, too.
    So it is a good thing to examine whether or not those biases and prejudices exist in order to be on guard and to set them aside. The fault I have with your speech is that you not only don’t let these students know that you need to set it aside; you don’t say that that’s what you need this information for. But you’re almost celebrating. You think — you say, if there are enough of us, we will make a difference, inferring that it is a good thing if we begin deciding cases differently.

  • thirdeye pushpin

    Kyl looks dismayed, he can’t reach out of the box and pull the fire alarm, so his alarming rhetoric rings hollow….As a bent white male I can not celebrate enought the diminishment of men like graham and kyl and sessions. A pox on the diversity of our species!!!

  • Siobhan

    Normally I wouldn’t consider it germane to the hearings but that thought ran through my mind as Graham read off the anonymous complaints about Sotomayor’s temperament and attitude – “what would your co-workers and underlings anonymously say about you, Graham?”

  • http://www.gongshangfa.com Rhodo Zeb

    Siobhan:
    Given the contempt with which Graham feels he may show directly to Sotomayor, I felt empowered to mention the big secret about him. I do not go around the web outing Mr. Graham, I assure you.
    Whether it is true or not I do not know, but he is unmarried at the age of say 55…
    What would happen if an indiscretion about Graham (and it need not be homosexual in nature, so long as it is sufficiently extreme) were to come out? We all know that his power, i.e. his political bunk-mates, would all abandon him, in an instant. He wouldn’t be so arrogant then.
    Here is a link to a recent article about an outing in SC, including the dear Senator:
    http://www.chicagopride.com/news/article.cfm/articleid/7515625
    Tena:
    I agree, but it seems like a pretty tricky issue. How do you resolve something like that?
    Having raised the issue, do I dare to mention the wrist, bent just so? He is so happy because he, personally, will not pay a price for his actions. Indeed, he feels quite comfortable, because he is building his credibility, getting political points, with every question.

  • Ali

    Thoughtful analysis, and well written. Good catch too on the triangle of red.

  • yg

    aholes forced her to apologize for being latina.

  • Chris

    Looks like a ventriloquist & his dummy to me.

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