Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings started yesterday. The general consensus is that she will be confirmed, although a number of Republicans may vote against her (citing to Obama's votes against John Roberts and Samuel Alito for political cover).

David Brooks has an interesting take on Sotomayor in this morning's Times (here). Brooks says Sotomayor represents a new kind of "American" story: "the upward mobility story — about a person who worked hard and contributes profoundly to society, but who also sacrificed things along the way."

Brooks says that Sotomayor's most significant social relationships have been professional: mentor/mentee relationships. Meanwhile, she has sacrificed, to various degrees, her marriage (which lasted only two years) and her friendships (one friend says she has to schedule time with Sotomayor months in advance). Brooks says that a career can often become the organizing principle in the life of an upwardly mobile person:
In [Sotomayor and others like her,] you see the intoxicating lure of work, which provides an organizing purpose and identity.

You see the web of mentor-mentee relationships — the courtship between the young and the middle-aged, and then the tensions as the mentees break off on their own.

You see the strains of a multicultural establishment, in which people try to preserve their ethnic heritage as they ascend into the ranks of the elite.

You see the way people not only choose a profession, it chooses them. It changes them in a way they probably didn’t anticipate at first.
Brooks's piece is not judgmental, at least not explicitly. I like his analysis of the inevitable tension between work and personal relationships.

The picture above is by Doug Mills from the Times.

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