The attention Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s remarks are getting in much of
the media just won’t go away as fast as the president wants them to,
and in spite of his unprecedented control over the White House press
pool.

So he’s making an excuse and trying to brush it off as something
like a slip of the tongue that Sotomayor never meant. Or wait…..that’s
not what he’s saying.

President Barack Obama on Friday personally sought to
deflect criticism about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, who
finds herself under intensifying scrutiny for saying in 2001 that a
female Hispanic judge would often reach a better decision than a white
male judge. “I’m sure she would have restated it,” Obama flatly told
NBC News, without indicating how he knew that.

This is a recurring theme in this administration’s gaffes. Not to actually apologize for remarks that offend, but to say that given the chance, the offender would just put it another way.

Like Janet Napolitano did
when she issued a threat assessment saying right-wing extremists might
recruit returning military veterans “to boost their violent
capabilities”.

Only when this report was made public and outraged
decent American citizens and veterans groups and many congressional
representatives did Napolitano come out and say ’sorry, I wish that
part had been worded a little differently.’

Are they sorry, or sorry that they got caught? President Obama’s campaign team did the same thing last year when they first learned that Sarah Palin would be the Republican party’s vice-presidential candidate.

“Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of
9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the
presidency. Governor Palin shares John McCain’s commitment to
overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George
Bush’s failed economic policies — that’s not the change we need, it’s
just more of the same.”

Not classy. Had a sniping tone that didn’t serve Obama well. So he rapidly changed it.

What happened?

Did the campaign suddenly regret failing to take note of Palin’s
unique place in American history as the first woman tapped by the
Republican Party as a vice presidential nominee? Did it regret missing
an opportunity to tell women (especially Hillary Clinton loyalists)
across the country that Palin deserved at least a cursory compliment
before being subjected to the natural rough-and-tumble or presidential
politics? Did it regret a swift descent into the negative,
back-and-forth politics that Obama has so earnestly railed against?

It would appear so.

Now, it’s Sotomayor, whose now famous statement (or one of them) is
being called frankly racist and sexist. Hard to dispute that, so just
say maybe she’d re-word it if given the chance.

After three days of suggesting that reporters and
critics should not dwell on one sentence from a speech, the White House
had a different message Friday.

“I think if she had the speech to do all over again, I think she’d
change that word,” presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.

Gibbs said he did not hear that from Sotomayor directly, but rather
from people who had talked to her, and he did not identify who those
people were. Sotomayor herself has made no public comments about the
matter and was not available for comment.

And that’s that.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....