Couric and Schieffer Gush Over Sotomayor's 'Very, Very Compelling' Bio

Moments after President Obama announced his pick of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court, CBS’s Bob Schieffer and Katie Couric enthused over what Couric called Sotomayor’s “very, very compelling life story,” with Schieffer cheering that she was “the political advisor’s dream candidate.”

“This woman has a life story that you couldn’t make up!” Schieffer exulted: “She’s born in the public projects, in the shadow of Yankee stadium, a single parent household, she goes to a Catholic school, she gets scholarships to the best schools in the country, Princeton and Yale, she overcomes all that while dealing with diabetes all her life, and she is Hispanic. This will be a historic pick.”

Couric immediately followed-up with her own salute: “Add to that, Bob, the fact that her father was a factory worker who died when she was nine years old, raised by a single mother who raised her brother to be a doctor and, obviously, her daughter to be an extremely accomplished lawyer and now judge. So it is a very, as you say, very, very compelling life story.”

Earlier in the CBS Special Report, correspondent Wyatt Andrews noted that the White House strategy would be to “position” Sotomayor “as a centrist: She was a tough on crime district attorney; she was a corporate lawyer for eight years. They are going to say she is, you know, the mainstream candidate with a great life story,” while conservatives were going to “paint her as someone with a liberal agenda inclined to be biased towards the little guy or minorities.”

It’s safe to say that Schieffer and Couric were much more in touch with the Obama camp’s talking points than Sotomayor’s conservative opponents.

Here’s a transcript of the relevant portion of the post-announcement commentary on CBS, starting at about 10:35am ET, as transcribed by the MRC’s Mike Sargent:
WYATT ANDREWS: The battle lines, despite the benign-sounding nature of what's coming from the Republicans right now, battle lines are being drawn behind the scenes to -- attack might be too strong -- but certainly sharply question Judge Sotomayer about her background. And you can see in the press conference that the President just held, him already laying out the groundwork of how his side, the Obama supporters, Sotomayer supporters, want to position her as a centrist: She was a tough on crime district attorney; she was a corporate lawyer for eight years. They are going to say she is, you know, the mainstream candidate with a great life story.

Where the attack will come from, though, is that Judge Sotomayor, several times in her career has said, has made speeches, at least two speeches that may give rise to the word 'agenda.' Conservative activists and some Republicans are likely to attack her on the charge that she has a liberal agenda. In a Duke speech in 2005, she says that, on the Courts of Appeal, “that's where policy gets made.” She immediately tried to take it back, but it was out there. And, significantly, in a 2002 speech at Berkeley, California, she seemed to say that race and gender do -- race and gender issues -- do make a difference when someone is judging. Specifically, she said, “I accept that our experiences as women and people of color affect our decisions. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see.”

So, again, these sound like benign comments, but these are comments that will be used against her as conservatives try to paint her as someone with a liberal agenda inclined to be biased towards the little guy or minorities.

KATIE COURIC: Thanks so much. Let's turn to Bob Schieffer. We just heard Wyatt talk about some potential obstacles in terms of her confirmation hearings, do you think her compelling life story will win the day, or do you think they are in for a real fight?

BOB SCHIEFFER: Yes, the answer, short answer is yes, Katie. I mean, I take Wyatt's point, yes there will be some hard questions asked, there will be a thorough examination, there ought to be.  But this woman has a life story that you couldn’t make up!  I mean, you know, she’s born in the public projects, in the shadow of Yankee stadium, a single parent household, she goes to a Catholic school, she gets scholarships to the best schools in the country, Princeton and Yale, she overcomes all that while dealing with diabetes all her life, and she is Hispanic, this will be a historic pick.

There will be opposition, some will try to picture her as an activist, but it's going to be very, very difficult to oppose this woman with this kind of story. This was the political advisor’s dream candidate. In addition to having all of experience, which she does that President Obama cited, the story this woman has to tell, it's going to be very difficult to go against that; especially, Katie, when you have a large Democratic majority in the Senate.

COURIC: And add to that, Bob, the fact that her father was a factory worker who died when she was nine years old, raised by a single mother who raised her brother to be a doctor and, obviously, her daughter to be an extremely accomplished lawyer and now judge. So it is a very, as you say, very very compelling life story. Bob Schieffer, Bob, thank you so much.

President Obama nominates federal appeals court judge Sonia Sotomayor of New York to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by Justice Souter. The Senate is expected to hold those confirmation hearings in July. We'll see how testy they end up being. And of course, there will be much more about Judge Sotomayor and reaction to her nomination on your local news on this CBS station and of course on tonight's CBS Evening News. Until then I'm Katie Couric in New York.
Rich Noyes
Rich Noyes
Rich Noyes is the Senior Editor for Newsbusters