Saturday, August 20, 2005

NYT: The fumes from his smelly jock k.o. Todd Purdum yet again

But a survey of tens of thousands of pages of documents released by the National Archives this week makes it clear that Mr. Roberts, whom President Bush has nominated to the Supreme Court, was often his own best storyteller. What follows is an impressionistic sampling of his writings from 1982 to 1986, when he served as an associate White House counsel.
Protecting Reagan With Women
Some critics have made much of Mr. Roberts's jocular 1985 aside in a memorandum about whether an administration aide could be nominated for an award celebrating her transition from homemaker to lawyer. The comment: "Some might question whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good." A (perhaps not terrific) joke about lawyers has been interpreted in some quarters as an insensitive critique of women.
But another document from that same year shows that when it came to discussing women's roles, Mr. Roberts could be a sensitive New Age guy. On June 14, 1985, in a briefing memorandum for a presidential news conference, he noted that a proposed description of President Ronald Reagan's tax proposals "assumes that the auto worker's wife will be a homemaker, rather than a wage earner."

The above is from Todd S. Purdum and John M. Broder's "As a Man of Letters, Roberts Showed Practicality and Humor" -- an "impressionistic survey" passing itself off as reporting in this morning's New York Times.

Okay, let's all face facts, Todd S. Purdum's athletic cup (an apparent mandatory wardrobe requirement for reporters -- male and female -- at the Times) is so smelly that no one wants to wash it. Fine, can Purdum not hang it somewhere and let it air out so that the fumes from it will stop interfering with his ability to report?

Are they writing an op-ed today or is this supposed to be wink-wink reporting? I'm not sure. "Roberts could be a sensitive New Age guy"? I don't think that even the worst feature writing in a mainstream publication would attempt to utilize that word combo. But not since Purdum attempted to make his Dead Sea Scrolls joke, has he tried so hard to be funny and had a joke fall so flat.

Wait, maybe it wasn't a joke? I mean I'm assuming it was an attempt at a joke. Kind of like Purdum and Broder assume that the earlier remark by Roberts was a joke:

Some critics have made much of Mr. Roberts's jocular 1985 aside in a memorandum about whether an administration aide could be nominated for an award celebrating her transition from homemaker to lawyer. The comment: "Some might question whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good." A (perhaps not terrific) joke about lawyers has been interpreted in some quarters as an insensitive critique of women.

I'm not surprised that Purdum has a problem evaulating a joke, "(perhaps not terrific)," but exactly what is the basis for assuming that it was a joke in the first place? Because when trying to sell a tax proposal, Roberts didn't repeat it? That makes it a joke? Might it also be Roberts' real feelings and those feelings were shoved aside when the time came to sell a tax proposal?

Yeah, that might be. But when the fumes from the smelly jock overcome Purdum (and his common sense), the boy can't help himself. Purdum, it's been years since you were a copyboy at the Times, you don't have to try to prove your manhood at this late date. But if you feel you do, sporting the smelliest jock doesn't make you "manly," it just makes you "stinky" -- sort of like the article he co-wrote with Broder.

If he won't wash it, can he at least air it out? Those fumes are destroying his brain.

Robert Parry, actually reporting on the memos, didn't find John Roberts "New age sensitive."

From Parry's "Judge Roberts's Slap at Women" (Consortium News):

Which brings us to two little-noticed memos penned by Roberts when he was a young lawyer helping to shape legal policy in Ronald Reagan's White House from 1982 to 1986. One of the women's rights issues at the time was whether women should get equal pay for comparable work, and a Washington state "equal worth" case was winding its way through the federal courts.
Three Republican women in the House of Representatives -- Olympia Snowe of Maine, Claudine Schneider of Rhode Island and Nancy Johnson of Connecticut -- implored the Reagan administration to accept a U.S. District Court ruling in favor of the principle. They wrote that "support for pay equity ... is not a partisan issue."
As the issue heated up in early 1984, Roberts wrote two tartly worded memos, which showed which side he was on.
The first -- to his boss, Fred Fielding, on Feb. 3, 1984 -- denounced the notion of equal pay for comparable worth, saying "It is difficult to exaggerate the perniciousness of the 'comparable worth' theory. It mandates nothing less than central planning of the economy by judges."
Roberts returned to the issue in a second memo on Feb. 20, 1984, again using language that compared an approach toward rectifying wage discrimination against women to Soviet-style policies, the ultimate insult in the Reagan administration.
Roberts expressed annoyance that three Republican members of Congress would favor what he called "a radical redistributive concept." He also cited possible justifications for paying women less than men for comparable work, such as the female tendency to lose seniority by leaving the work force for extended periods, presumably for child-rearing.
But Roberts didn't stop there. He included in the memo a quip likening the congresswomen's advocacy of "equal pay for comparable worth" to the most famous expression of communist principles.
"Their slogan," Roberts wrote, "may as well be 'From each according to his ability, to each according to her gender.'"
The existence of these two memos was reported by the Washington Post on Aug. 16 near the end of a lengthy article on the National Archives' release of Reagan-era documents on Roberts. But the slap at the women's rights issue has drawn little attention.
When asked about Roberts’s memos, Olympia Snowe -- now a U.S. senator -- responded diplomatically. "Hopefully, 21 years later, Judge Roberts possesses an openness with respect to issues of gender-based wage discrimination," Snowe told the Post.
But the larger point is that Roberts -- while in a position to influence policy inside the White House -- opted for a knee-jerk right-wing position on an important discrimination issue facing the American people.
Then, rather than showing sensitivity to the long history of injustice inflicted on women in the work place, he chose to make a joke, suggesting that women wanted money they didn't deserve.

See what a reporter can do when he's not choking on his own crotch fumes? When he doesn't assume that his article is a try out to become the headliner at Catch a Rising Star?

In other reality-based reporting, note Matthew Rothschild's "Santorum’s People Toss Young Women out of Barnes & Noble, Trooper Threatens Them with Prison" about how a Rick Santorum book signing event turns into a nightmare for teenagers and their parents:

As Shaffer was talking with her friends, Rocek made a joke.
She held up a copy of a book by the gay writer Dan Savage called "The Kid," which is about how he and his partner adopted a son. And Rocek said, "It would be funny if we got Santorum to sign this book." (To discredit Santorum, Savage and his readers in 2003 came up with a nasty definition of "
Santorum" that now often appears on Internet searches for Santorum's name.)
Not everyone enjoyed the joke.
"A woman nearby snapped: 'He's only here to sign his own book. He won't sign that,' " recalls Galperin.
Shaffer says the woman also added, "You're shameful and disgusting."
For a minute, the young women thought that would be the end of it.
But no such luck.
A state trooper in full uniform, including hat and gun, was in the store, and, according to Shaffer and Galperin, he met with the person who didn't care for the Dan Savage joke, along with a few others, including members of the store and Santorum's people.
Galperin says she heard the trooper ask, "Do you want me to get rid of them?"
And then the trooper, Delaware State Police Sgt. Mark DiJiacomo, who was on detail as a private security guard, came over to the group of women.
Here is the conversation, as Galperin remembers it: "You guys have to leave."

"Your business is not wanted here. They don't want you here anymore. If you don't leave, you're going to be arrested. If you can't post bail, you'll go to prison. Those of you who are under 18 will go to Ferris [the juvenile detention center]. And those of you over 18 will go either to Gander Hill Prison or the woman's correctional facility. Any questions?”
Shaffer remembers the conversation basically the same way.
"I said, 'Sir, we're not doing anything wrong. We're sitting in a bookstore. On what grounds would we be arrested?' "
"He said, 'This is private property. Are you going to leave on your own, or are you going to leave in cuffs?"
Shaffer decided to leave with her friends.
Galperin and Rocek decided to stay.
"That's it," he told them, according to Galperin. "You're under arrest. Give me your ID. You're going to prison."

The above's an excerpt. To read Matthew Rothschild's article (The Progressive) in full click here.

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