The XX Factor

Let Me Tell You a Thing or Two

Of all the stylistically tone-deaf things Sen. Lindsey Graham said to Sonia Sotomayor Tuesday, the worst was his declaration that he was going to tell a 55-year-old judge with 18 years of appellate experience how the world works. “I need to be sure that you understand the world as it really is,” he said before launching into a lecture about how a comment analogous to her much-maligned “wise Latina” remark would have ended his career. Graham sounded truly aggrieved: “I just hope you will appreciate the world in which we live in, that you can say those things … and still have a chance to get on the Supreme Court. Others could not remotely come close to that statement and survive. Does that make sense to you?”

Graham wasn’t telling Sotomayor how the world works; he was telling her how his world works. But he conflated the two, making a statement about the standards set for his demographic-white males-out to be an assertion about the nature of the universe. Pretty rich, considering this hearing is supposed to be all about empathy.

Photograph of Lindsey Graham by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.