Dafydd ab Hugh says:
Despite the newest charge sweeping the blogosphere, Laura Bush did not call Miers opponents “sexist.”
True enough. She said she thought it was “possible.”
If Dafydd had stopped there, I’d have no quarrel with his post. I also applaud him for noting that — contrary to the suggestions of some — Matt Lauer asked the question, and Laura Bush simply responded.
But Dafydd goes further than that, arguing that the news services have completely botched the transcription in a misleading way. And I don’t think they did.
Here is Dafydd’s own transcription of the relevant portion of the interview (starting at about 8:28 of the video at this link):
Lauer: Some are suggesting there’s a little possible sexism in the criticism of Judge [sic] Miers.
Laura Bush: That’s possible. I think –
Lauer: How would you feel about that?
Laura Bush: That’s possible. I think she is so accomplished that… I know, I think that people are not looking at her accomplishments and not realizing that she was the first elected woman to be the head of the Texas Bar Association, for instance, and all the other things. She was the first, uh, woman managing partner of a major law firm. She was the first woman hired by a major law firm, her law firm.
Based on this transcription, Dafydd argues:
What a difference a single interruption makes! In the deceptive version being pedaled by Reuters and the Post, they have Laura say sexism was possible and then repeat it for emphasis: “I think that’s possible.” This has the subtextual effect of making it appear certain that the First Lady was agreeing with Lauer’s question, that critics were motivated by sexism.
But in reality, Lauer asked the question and paused; Mrs. Bush started to answer and was cut off by Lauer, who finished asking the question… so the First Lady, being a trouper, simply re-commenced her same answer. She did not say “that’s possible… I think that’s possible;” she dismissed the charge with a curt “that’s possible,” then started a new sentence on a different topic.
That’s not how I hear it — at all. Contrary to Dafydd, I don’t hear a pause in the sentence: “I think that’s possible.” Here is my own transcription of the relevant portion of the exchange:
Lauer: Some are suggesting there’s a little possible sexism in the criticism of Judge Miers.
Laura Bush: That’s possible.
Lauer: How would you feel about that?
Laura Bush: [The beginning of this sentence runs together with the end of Lauer's previous sentence:] I think that’s possible. I think she is so accomplished [etc.] …
Dafydd’s argument is based entirely on his hearing a break in the sentence: “I think that’s possible.” But I just don’t hear it. The sentence is unbroken.
Also, I think that even if Dafydd is right (and I don’t think he is), it’s a distinction without a difference, as one of Dafydd’s commenters notes.
However, I like Dafydd’s overarching point: don’t take anyone’s word for anything. That applies to the pundits Dafydd is criticizing, Dafydd himself — and me. Play the video yourself, look at our respective transcripts, and make up your own mind.
UPDATE: In his post, Dafydd says in an update [but see UPDATE x3 below]:
The charge from Michelle Malkin and Captain Ed (and now Patterico) is, boiled down, that Laura Bush is calling opponents of Miers “sexist.”
Go back and read the beginning of this post. I do not say that — in fact, I agree with Dafydd that she didn’t. She merely said it was “possible.” She didn’t dwell on it. Make of it what you will — I don’t think it amounts to much — but face the facts that are in front of you.
UPDATE x3: Responding to my first UPDATE, Dafydd has now removed the “and now Patterico” parenthetical from his post.
This was intended to be a corrective post about the media and media criticism, but since some are reading it as substantive commentary on Laura Bush, let me say this:
Let’s get some perspective. Placing to one side what I perceive as an error in Dafydd’s perception of what happened in the video, his larger point is valid. Lauer tried to put these words in Laura Bush’s mouth; she didn’t bring up sexism. She merely said it was “possible,” which of course it is — because anything’s possible. This is not something Miers opponents should get terribly upset over. Even if you reject Dafydd’s (in my view hairsplitting and unconvincing) interpretation of this video, Laura Bush’s comment was just not that big a deal. It really wasn’t.
Having said that, I think Miers opponents can and should object to the President’s decision to nominate Miers. Not only is she not the most qualified candidate, she’s not even the most qualified female candidate. We deserve better.