No, George H.W. Bush Did Not Impose a Race Qualification in Selecting Clarence Thomas

On Wednesday, I ran a column in the Wall Street Journal noting that President Joe Biden was imposing a race and gender qualification for the Supreme Court that has been rejected as either unconstitutional or unlawful by the Court for schools and businesses. While I noted that Biden could have made diversity a preferential rather than an exclusionary rule, the response was furious as commentators claimed that other presidents made the same pledge. Specifically, they claimed that Presidents Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump also confined their choices for seats to women. In fairness, both presidents did make public comments on the expected gender of their possible nominees. However, as I wrote later, the underlying claims are false. Now commentators have claimed President George H.W. Bush did the same thing with the appointment of Clarence Thomas. That is also untrue.  Indeed, it is an even weaker historical defense.

The response to my Wall Street Journal piece initially focused on Reagan for a fair reason. Reagan did say that he wanted to appoint a woman to one of the vacancies in his next term. However, Reagan did not promise to only consider women and did not commit to such a nominee in the next vacancy. In fact, Reagan had a short list with various male candidates and the White House repeatedly said that Reagan’s desire to appoint a female was “no guarantee.”  He did what other presidents have done. He made diversity a preference while not refusing to consider people on the basis of their gender.

Commentators then insisted that Trump did the same thing. He did not. Trump actually released a series of short lists that were updated as his staff did initial vetting and inquiry. While diverse, most on the list were men. Trump told a crowd shortly before his announcement on the replacement for the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg that the nominee would be a women. However, he never limited the list to women and actively considered men for the position. Indeed, his choice was unclear to the very end and the short list included a male, Judge Amul Thapar of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, who would have been the first South Asian appointee. Trump’s announcement at the rally came on September 19, 2020 after months of scrutiny of the public short list that included a majority of male candidates.  That was just a week before the formal nomination and after many of us identified Barrett as a leading contender on the short list due to her conservative academic and judicial writings.

Reagan and Trump show precisely that it was unnecessary to exclude others on the basis of race or gender, as did Biden. Other presidents have sought diversity on the Court while maintaining that they are seeking the best candidates regardless of such criteria.

During the primary, Biden wanted to garner support with black voters by saying that he would only consider black women for the next seat. He made the pledge after Rep. James Clyburn pushed him to do so during a break the presidential debate — Biden turned around and made the commitment when the debate resumed according to a new book. Clyburn then gave Biden his critical endorsement that many (including Biden) attribute his victory to in the key South Carolina primary.

Instead, the latest claim is that George H.W. Bush did the same thing. “Whataboutism” is something that we all do. However, it can backfire when the “whatabout” turns out to be “that not what it’s about.”

That is the case with George H.W. Bush. While many in the media painted Clarence Thomas as someone entirely picked due to his race (something that they would unlikely do with a Democratic nominee), Bush never said that he would only consider African-American nominees. Indeed, New York Magazine acknowledged as much (while curiously still citing this as support for Biden): “George H.W. Bush did not openly say he needed a Black jurist to replace Thurgood Marshall, but it would take heroic levels of delusion to believe Clarence Thomas was selected on the basis of his career accomplishments.”

The distinction proves the opposing point. Bush never did what Biden did. He never said that he would exclude other candidates based on their race. Like other presidents, he clearly viewed race as a factor but never publicly declared it would be an exclusionary factor.  As with the replacement of Ginsburg with a woman, the replacement of Thurgood Marshall was viewed as likely to be an African American. However, Bush did consider other non-black candidates.

Indeed, in his prior pick (that went to Justice David Souter), Bush reportedly wanted to appoint the first Hispanic to the Court.  However, he did not limit the search and decided Souter was the best qualified. The New York Times reported on that short list:

Mr. Bush’s list included about nine people of varied backgrounds and degrees of ideological conservatism, including several Hispanic judges, two women, at least two white men and at least one black man, Judge Clarence Thomas, 43 years old, of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. ‘An Interesting Mix’

Several suggested that Mr. Bush was leaning toward nominating a Hispanic judge for the seat. “It’s an interesting mix, I think,” said a senior Administration official who has seen the list but refused to disclose its contents.

Then came the vacancy with Marshall. Again, Bush never pledged to exclude any other race. That short list also included non-African Americans. Indeed, the media reported that Bush was still interested in appointing a Hispanic candidate and the list included figures like Ricardo Hinojosa, a federal trial judge in Texas and Ferdinand Fernandez, a federal appeals court judge in Los Angeles.

The argument that “we all knew it would be an African American” is entirely untrue. However, regardless of his preferences, Bush did not declare that candidates would be excluded on the basis of their race or gender. Indeed, his small list was not racially exclusionary.

The preference given to diversity is not a new factor. What is new is the categorical promise not to consider anyone else due to their race or gender. That may seem a subtle difference to many but it is precisely the difference that has motivated thousands of lawsuits. While courts struggle with patterns of discrimination in hiring, they have consistently rejected threshold, express exclusions on the basis of race or gender.

Notably, in all of the commentary that followed the column, no one is contesting the primary point: that this type of exclusionary rule has been found unconstitutional or unlawful in schools or businesses.  While there may be legitimate points of distinction with a Court appointment, there is little discussion of why we should use a threshold exclusionary rule for admission to the highest court that the Court would not allow in any admission to a school or business.

155 thoughts on “No, George H.W. Bush Did Not Impose a Race Qualification in Selecting Clarence Thomas”

  1. Historical Footnote to Clarence Thomas SCOTUS nomination:
    In Fall 1991, I covered the Court for The Detroit News’ Washington Bureau.,
    When the nomination hit headwinds, Thomas patron and Missouri Sen Jack Danforth (R) joined several of us regionals for a breakfast hosted by Budge Sperling of Christian Science Monitor. His task was to talk up Thomas’ qualifications.
    Danforth noted in passing that he had just been to the White House, had viewed the most recent short list, and that Thomas was the only Black candidate on it.
    His point was not to argue that what he saw as Thomas’ well-deserved appointment had been a case of pure Affirmative Action.
    Only that, if one were interested in seeing a well-qualified Black jurist on the Court, it was Thomas or nothing.

  2. Jonathan: Looks like you are getting a lot of criticism over you claim that Biden is guilty of “affirmative action” in wanting to appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court. Your column in the WSJ is a feeble attempt to justify your earlier comments. Why the WSJ for your column? That’s because the WSJ is owned by Rupert Murdock, your employer over at Fox. Mere coincidence? I don’t think so. In fairness, you are not the only one facing criticism. Ilya Shapiro, the new law professor at Georgetown law school and VP at the conservative Cato Institute (what is you say about conservatives being an endangered specie at law schools?, said in a tweet Biden’s choice would be a “lesser Black woman over a more suitable man”. Shapiro came under fire for his racist tweet by his Georgetown colleagues and even the Dean. Shapiro was forced to apologize and took down his tweet. But Tucker Carlson, on his show yesterday, went further than Shapiro. He said: “Joe Biden confirmed today what we already knew: Our next Supreme Court Justice will not be chosen on the basis of legal acumen, intelligence, wise judgment or fealty to the Constitution”. Carlson’s racist comments come before Biden has even made his selection! But that’s Carlson who frequently shoots from the hip!

    You claim George W Bush “did not impose a race qualification in selecting Clarence Thomas”. Oh, really? Thomas was nominated precisely because he is Black–and a member of the Federalist Society. Had Bush selected a white male the “racist” optics would have been all too obvious. Since Reagan the Federalist Society has had an outsized influence on judicial appointments and even lawyers selected to work in the DOJ under Republican administrations. George W gave responsibility for selection of judicial appointments to Lee Liberman Otis, a founder of the FS. Same with Trump. During the 2016 campaign Trump made an unprecedented promise ( one of the few promises he ever kept). that judicial nominees would “all [be] picked by the Federalist Society”. During Trump’s term all judicial appointments were selected by the FS. Over 90% were white males with solid FS credentials. If that isn’t “affirmative action” for mostly whites what is it? When Justice Scalia died Trump consulted with Leonard Leo, FS’s vice president, who put together a list of 21 potential replacements for Scalia. Neil Gorsuch was on the short list and Trump selected him. All the potential nominees were either FS members or adherents. Scalia was one of the founders of FS. Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Alioto, Thomas, Barrett and even the Chief Justice are or were members of FS. Don McGahn, Trump’s former WH Counsel, let the cat out the bag when he said: “Our opponents of judicial nominees frequently claim the president has outsourced his selection of judges. That is completely false. I’ve been a member of the Federalist Society since law school–still am. So, frankly, it seems like it’s been insourced”. Clearly.

    Now the FS is not just a group of conservative lawyers espousing an “originalist” interpretation of the Constitution. FS is funded by massive secret contributions from right-wing corporate interests who want to shape policy and the law in the interest of large corporations. FS believes that if it can load the courts with FS members that will shape public policy for years to come. FS wants the country to become the “Federalist United States”–doing only what the big corporations want. The rights of women to control their own bodies don’t count.

    I don’t know whether you are an actual “member” of FS. But in 2017 at the FS “National Lawyers Convention” Don McGahn made remarks along with Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh. You were were one of the panelists. So it is clear you support the goals of FS. But you don’t say anything about the FS in your column–their influence on judicial appointments under either George W or Trump. You claim there should not be a “threshold exclusionary rule for admission to the high court”. But George W and Trump had their own “exclusionary rule”. Only FS members or those closely aligned with
    the Society need apply. I bring up all the above simply so your followers will see the big picture and will take your arguments with a grain of salt! There has never been a Black woman on the Supreme Court. Don’t you think it’s about time?

    1. Dennis,

      Take a look at Hannity last night referencing Turley’s tweet about Biden’s Supreme Court statement:

      https://youtu.be/woiGbgJPn94

      What Turley said was quite limited, yet Hannity insinuates that Turley agrees with his characterization of Biden’s statement as “identity politics on steroids.” Of course, that smear is not at all what Turley believes, yet his good name and standing is being exploited by this liar.

      Does Turley care that his remarks are being misconstrued?

      1. Jeff: I don’t think Turley’s op eds opposing Biden’s nomination to the SC are being “misconstrued” by Fox’s Sean Hannity. Has Turley publicly disagreed with Hannity’s characterization? Fox hired Turley as their legal analyst and constitutional expert because he was guaranteed to provide support for the media giant’s position on almost any issue. Turley provides a veneer of “legal authority” for Fox. Notice Turley’s columns often follow by only a few days after Fox has staked out a position. Turley knows his role. He and Fox work hand in glove. Turley may use more “lawyerly” language but the result is the same. Hannity wouldn’t cite Turley if he thought the latter would disagree. Hannity’s words are a distinction without a difference.

        Turley’s opposition to Biden’s likely pick is hypocritical. When Justice Ginsburg retired Trump pledged to appoint another woman to the Supreme Court.: “It will be a woman…”. Did you hear a peep out of Turley claiming this was unlawful “affirmative action”, gender discrimination or that other male candidates should be considered? Nope. Turley and Fox enthusiastically supported Amy Coney Barrett mainly because she was conservative and a member of the Federalist Society that selected all of Trump’s judicial appointments. That appointment was based on “identity politics”. It was just a month before the 2020 election and Trump hoped he would get the female vote by selecting Barrett. It didn’t work because female voters went overwhelmingly for Biden. They saw through Trump’s charade. I think you are giving Turley too much credit. Any comments?

        1. Dennis,

          I agree with your first paragraph. Turley’s silence in the face of Hannity’s exploiting his criticism of Biden to justify Fox’s false narratives is shameful. Turley is paid more for his silence than his commentary. I do not fault Turley for criticizing the MSM; I denounce him for keeping his mouth shut about Fox News, Newsmax, OAN, etc.

          You may be correct that I may be giving Turley too much credit in this instance. I prefer not to accuse people of acting in bad faith unless it is unmistakable. In this respect, I am not unlike Turley who also presumes that people are acting in good faith even when it appears that he is being deliberately naive. I can cite one clear case of Turley being disingenuous which perhaps you did not see:

          https://jonathanturley.org/2022/01/28/no-george-h-w-bush-did-not-impose-a-race-qualification-in-selecting-clarence-thomas/comment-page-1/#comment-215434

        2. Dennis,

          The fact that 98% of Turley’s followers are Trumpists (or at least not Liberal) demonstrates that Turley has been written off by NeverTrumpers and Liberals. That you and I and a handful of others have seen fit to consider Turley’s opinions and remain here despite all the invective thrown at us is a testament to our willingness to entertain opposing views. We read bad speech on this blog, and we counter it with our good speech. In this way, we are practicing what Turley preaches. In spite of the many calls by Trumpists for us to leave, can there be any doubt that Turley would condemn their calls?
          It’s a pity that Turley does not step in on occasion to remind his followers that all are welcome provided that everyone remains civil. Since he himself is a NeverTrumper, Turley should be grateful that there are a few voices left on this blog who agree with him!

          1. Jeff: I don’t think Turley is a “NeverTrumper”. Yes, he criticized Trump for his speech at the rally on Jan.6. But on the really important issues he is in lock step with Trump. Turley testified opposing Trump’s impeachment. He even met with Senate Republicans to encourage them not to vote for impeachment. He supported all of Trump’s appointments of whites to the Supreme Court–especially in several columns supporting Barrett’s nomination.

            Turley works for Fox News. Over 4 years Fox supported Trump’s agenda providing Trump with talking points and policy positions. As you know 3 days ago was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Tucker Carlson, a Trump supporter who has the top rated show on Fox, marked the day with a “Special” in which he glorified Hungary’s white Cristian nationalism and accused Holocaust survivor George Soros of waging a “secret war” on Western [white] civilization. Trump has often expressed anti-semitic views. If Turley was really an “NeverTrumper” why has he remained silent over Carlson’s anti-semitic diatribe or resigned from Fox? I mean does he really need the money?

            Just yesterday Trump said that if he is re-elected in 2024 he will pardon the insurrectionists charged in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. He has continually downplayed that attack on our Democracy calling Jan. 6 “entirely peaceful”– a delusional claim. Turley has criticized many of the prosecutions and has also downplayed Jan. 6 by calling it a “riot” not an “insurrection” .Trump made his promise yesterday because many of those arrested and charged complained Trump didn’t pardon them before leaving office. This is Trump’s attempt to regain support from the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers because he will need their support if he chooses to run in 2024. Any comments?

            1. Hi Dennis,

              Have you not seen my pointing out the sheer level of contempt which Turley bears for Trump:

              https://jonathanturley.org/2011/12/09/newsmax-flames-out-trump-debate-down-to-gingrich-and-santorum/

              Turley said:

              “NewsMax CEO Christopher Ruddy’s cynical and sensational selection of Donald Trump to moderate the next presidential debate has backfired. Ruddy united conservative and liberal commentators and candidates in denouncing him and NewsMax for the obscene idea — with Ron Paul and Jon Hunstman leading the way in immediately refusing to participate in such a circus. Perry, and Romney were the next (rather belatedly) to refuse to participate. Bachmann has now also declined to participate on a program with look of The Apprentice and the dignity of the Jersey Wives. That leaves Santorum and Gingrich who have confirmed that they will appear with a carnival snake charmer to get on TV.”

              Once a carnival snake charmer always a carnival snake charmer! Nothing has changed which would indicate that Turley has gained any respect for Trump. That is why I call him a NeverTrumper.

              Unlike Trumpists who claim that Trump’s call to the President of Ukraine was “perfect,” Turley stated he thought that Trump’s conduct was impeachable IF Democrats could prove his bad intent, but he faulted the Democrats for rushing through the process which he criticized as a “snap impeachment.” So, Turley took both sides on both Impeachments- I presume in good faith- though you may be more cynical.

              With the SC appointments, he speaks in favor of them all. Has he ever voiced his dissent to a nomination?

              I agree with everything you say about Tucker Carlson. And this is why I have repeatedly said that Turley- for as long as he lives- will NEVER wash off the stench of having collaborated with Fox in legitimating Carlson by appearing on his show and ignoring his rage inducing lies. I look forward to the day when Turley will be asked, “Would you ever appear with Alex Jones on Infowars?” “Surely not,” he would certainly say. “Then why did you appear with Carlson?” At which point, we can watch Turley attempt to differentiate Carlson from Jones and defend or explain away Carlson’s embrace of autocrat Orban and his Soros anti-semitism. Won’t that be a sad moment in Turley’s career. Yes, the money is why Turley exposes himself to such humiliation. It’s a lot of money; in addition, he maintains his good standing with Republicans who also pay him a lot of money to be their go-to Liberal witness to defend them in Impeachment hearings!

              As for 1/6, I too don’t believe it was an insurrection. It was a riot. It was also a lynch mob for Pence. However, these Q-Anon and Trumpist knuckleheads were too disorganized to effectuate a real insurrection. The fact that Turley called for Trump’s Congressional Censure once again proves that he is a NeverTrumper. Not one Trumpist on this blog agreed with Turley though I can’t recall one who *publicly disagreed* because they refuse to admit that he is a NevefTrumper! So they just brush it off by ignoring his call to censure.

              Turley shares OUR liberal values; he sees Trump for what he is- “an absurd reality television star.” Regrettably, Turley has sold out to Fox News. He is a flagrant hypocrite. His academic reputation has suffered. He’ll live to regret it when eventually he has to account for his hypocrisy:

              “Tell me, Professor, how can you call for the end of “our age of rage,” when you profit from the engine of that rage, namely, Fox News, by appearing with the likes of Carlson, Hannity, Ingraham and, still worse, saying nothing to condemn the hateful diatribes of your Fox colleague Mark Levin?”

              His comeuppance is coming, and it would not surprise me if it keeps Turley awake some nights.

  3. What I said yesterday bears repeating:

    Turley says:

    “What is most striking about the Reagan-Biden comparison is how unnecessary it was for Biden to categorically rule out non-female and non-black applicants. He could have simply made clear that he wanted to add a black female to the Court and would make that a priority without promising that the first vacancy would be barred to other genders or races.”

    A distinction without a meaningful difference because as Turley honestly concedes:
    “There is no doubt here that identity politics played a role in some nominations, but presidents have at least maintained an *appearance* of their selections based purely on merit.” (My emphasis)

    https://jonathanturley.org/2020/03/19/supreme-identity-politics-biden-pledges-to-only-consider-black-females-for-supreme-court-pick/

    In other words, like Trump was wont to do, Biden made a faux pas by stating the quiet part out loud.

    And Paul who is a Conservative replied:

    Jeff, perfectly stated. Making it a PRIORITY without saying it was absolute would have been the better way to go. That and I thought he would have learned his lesson from the Kamala Harris fiasco.

    —————

    If a Liberal and a Conservative can agree, that’s progress (or should I say “making America great again”)

  4. I call this disgustingly racist and sexist. It is not progress, it is retrogression. Americans should not tolerate social Jim Crow dynamics like these any more than we tolerated Jim Crow laws in the second half of the 20th century. I don’t want to go through another round of mass civil unrest to re-establish that American ideal, either. Neither should anyone else, but that’s what this kind of sex- and race-baiting will lead to if left unchecked.
    https://thefederalist.com/2022/01/28/bidens-pledge-to-nominate-a-black-woman-for-scotus-is-racist-and-sexist/?

  5. This issue is a tempest in a teapot. All SCOTUS nominees are selected to satisfy some constituency: Female, Black, White, Hispanic, liberal, conservative, etc., etc. So the mere fact that a preference is announced only states the obvious – and is a fair heads-up for any citizen who likes or dislikes the selection.

  6. (I made an earlier anonymous comment about how I can tell political sides of commenters merely by their language, i.e., the Left employs the word “disingenuous” after Obama brought the word back to life a few years ago. I just read some posts, and JeffSilberman, Svelaz, their “Anonymous” counterparts, and now RIchard Weisberg– all redundantly invoked that word-just today-and just in this particular article’s comment section alone! Geez, guys, can you come up with another word and stop being so disingenuous.

    1. Lin asks:

      “Geez, guys, can you come up with another word and stop being so disingenuous?”

      Why don’t you substantively reply to my criticism of Turley’s disingenuousness instead of nitpicking over the use of a particular word?

      Is there a Trumpist here who does NOT believe that the mainstream media is “fake news”?

      Does anyone honestly believe that Turley is so clueless NOT to know that “fake news” is a widely held belief among Trumpists?

    2. Lin,

      What other word would you use to describe the disingenuous rhetoric? It is after all proper description of what Turley and others who use such rhetoric or opinions. Would you prefer, deceitful, dishonest, crooked, unfair?

    3. lin,

      I already showed you that your claim about Obama is false. Here, AGAIN, is counterevidence:
      https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=disingenuous&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Cdisingenuous%3B%2Cc0
      Just as I told you that evidence can convince me that I’m wrong about a factual issue, I hope you can likewise be convinced with evidence.

      It’s your opinion that the word was used redundantly in comments here. You’ve provided no actual evidence or argument to bolster that opinion, nor do you explain why you think others are being disingenuous (unless you only meant that last part sarcastically).

      1. Hi there, Anonymous. I just looked at your provided link (I hope others do….) The “graph” shows a tremendous spike in the word’s use, starting @ Obama’s campaign and election years (2007-2009). Wasn’t he elected in 2008? Sure wish you were opposing counsel for one of my cases…..

        1. Hi Lin,

          It is my fault. I used the word ‘disingenuous’ in a comment to Silberman a couple of days ago, it can be found in the link below.

          https://jonathanturley.org/2022/01/26/no-president-biden-should-be-impeached-for-lax-border-security/comment-page-1/#comments

          It is no surprise that the resident lefties and their various sock puppet accounts picked it up. Their arguments are weak so when they find a word or a phrase that lends gravitas to their position they repeat it endlessly. We see this all of the time with the MSM.

          I found the Silberman, Svelaz, and Weisburg comments from today that included ‘disingenuous’ but did not find the Anon comments. However, I instinctively scroll right past these so I certainly missed it.

          I’ll conclude by saying that I enjoy your comments, keep up the good work!

          1. Ray in SC: What a pleasant surprise to see a comment from you, and ditto, I read your comments all the time because you debate and challenge and stimulate discussion, which is what I love and which I believe is what the good professor intended as a desirable consequence/outcome of his work. And yes, your use of the word likely stimulated its current popularity herein…

            1. Hi Lin,

              Thank you for your kind words. I look forward to reading more of your comments and interacting with you in the future.

              I am somewhat perplexed by Turley’s position on this topic. On the one hand, he appears to have very strong objection to excluding everyone who is not a black female from being considered. ‘Excluding’ is a key word here.

              However, on the other hand, he seems to suggest that this situation would not be objectionable if Biden had “ simply made clear that he wanted to add a black female to the Court and would make that a priority without promising that the first vacancy would be barred to other genders or races.”

              Turley went on to suggest that there is a distinction between ‘preference’ and ‘exclusion’, with preference being acceptable over exclusion. This somewhat aligns with the quote above.

              But, he also goes to great lengths, especially in the Reagan article, to explain that racial preferences in college admissions and in hiring are unconstitutional.

              I do not understand Turley’s position. It seems to be conditional and situation dependent which is very much unlike the usually very clear positions that he takes.

              What am I missing?

        2. No, it does NOT show “a tremendous spike in the word’s use, starting @ Obama’s campaign and election years (2007-2009).”

          Are you sure that you’re paying attention to the labelling on the x-axis? It starts at 1800 and goes through 2018. It peaks in 1825. The lowest point is in 1942, and there was a noticeable increase from 1976 through 2007, when it starts to generally decrease again.

          1. Anonymous: are you sure you’re paying attention to your own “evidence” and that you comprehend the words that I use in my original comment (with which you apparently took umbrage?) Your reference to 1825 has nothing to do with anything.. As you probably know and understand such graphs (since you are offering this graph as your “evidence”), the significance (in lexology) is reflective of the relative use of the word. In this century (specifically, 2000-2019), please note that the word’s use PEAKS during 2007-2009, concurrent with Obama’s campaign and election, and remains relatively high during his subsequent years…I invite all who read this thread to look at your “graph.” No one can deny his televised use of the word, -if I recall, even in the presidential debates? I say no more and no less, thanks anyway.

            1. (and by the way, if you are able to understand your own graph, considering that the traceable use of words (through recorded media) has grown exponentially since “1825,” indeed, the word’s use likely represents a significant spike when you look at raw numbers…

            2. Yes, lin, I’m sure.

              Neither your original claim at 1:24pm nor your second claim at 2:08pm nor your third claim at 3:34pm limited the domain to this century.

              Maybe you were thinking that, but it’s not what you said.

              “the significance (in lexology) is reflective of the relative use of the word”

              Are you familiar with statistical normalization? There are different kinds of normalization, and these Ngrams use feature scaling normalization, so that the range is always between 0 and 1. These graphs show an annual normalized value: the total # of times that a word appeared divided by the total number of words in that year’s corpus. Given the large number of different English words that people can use, and the huge total number of words in a year’s corpus (which includes repeat appearances), the max of these graphs is always much less than 1.

              Your claims that it’s “a word that’s been around for years but seldom-and I do mean seldom-used–until Saint Obama used it” and “Obama brought the word back to life a few years ago” are false.  As I noted, the relative use had already been growing since 1976. There’s nothing to indicate that Obama’s campaign use influenced this growth. The normalized growth is fairly linear until 2007. ​There’s no reason to only consider this century, but since you now want to, you can limit the domain to 2000-2019 in the viewer using the left-most pull-down menu above the graph, and you’ll instead get a relatively flat graph during this century.

              As for “please note that the word’s use PEAKS during 2007-2009 … if you are able to understand your own graph, considering that the traceable use of words (through recorded media) has grown exponentially since “1825,” indeed, the word’s use likely represents a significant spike when you look at raw numbers,” no, the local max occurs in 2007, and given the growth in size of the annual corpus (the denominators in the normalization), odds are that the absolute (not relative) max is in 2021. To know for certain, we’d need the raw data.

              1. Good morning. Don’t want to “clog the blog” with such tangential silliness. Yes, I do know about min-max scaling and the use of standardization v. normalization. But I cannot access on my computer the entire report/methodology used in your cited graph. And I certainly am not an expert in the area of data mining and statistical analysis. Therefore, I consulted a local statistical mathematician and showed him our respective posts.
                He told me to tell you that you were “full of it” and that my deductive comments were “totally plausible.” He also said that everything you said neither defeated nor disproved what I said. He did not want me to use his name as he is with local university and does not want “external” contacts bothering him. (Curious that you post as “anonymous.”) But I also will add that he opined you were getting all your information from others or off the internet. I agree, since you seem to be such a wonderful expert on soooo many topics. Perhaps you are a DNC plant who monitors this blog and tries to dispel certain politically-unfavorable comments. Thanks anyway

                1. “he opined you were getting all your information from others or off the internet.”

                  What we read from him is superficial though he states it pretentiously as an expert. Depth comes when one has not been force-fed talking points.

                2. It is truly bizarre that your pal
                  conjectures that I’m “getting all [my] information from others or off the internet” without knowing anything about me. It’s false, as is your conjecture that I’m “a DNC plant who monitors this blog and tries to dispel certain politically-unfavorable comments.” You claim that you “Don’t want to “clog the blog” with such tangential silliness,” and then you proceed to post a bunch of tangential silliness about me.

                  For goodness sake, lin, relying on a claim that I’m “full of it” without identifying any actual errors in my argument is ad hominem. If I said something false, quote it and provide an argument for why it’s false. I don’t care what this other person’s name is (and I now post anonymously due to harassment under my original name, so I empathize). I can be convinced with a fact-based argument. Do you have one?

                  No, your claims are NOT “totally plausible.” Again: the frequency of use of “disingenuous” started increasing decades before Obama’s campaign. Your claims that it’s “a word that’s been around for years but seldom-and I do mean seldom-used–until Saint Obama used it” and “Obama brought the word back to life a few years ago” are false, and the graph demonstrates this by showing the relative use had already been growing since 1976, and there’s actually very little difference in its use in 2006 (before his use) versus 2007. There’s nothing to indicate that Obama’s campaign use influenced this growth. The normalized growth is fairly linear until 2007.

                  IF I said something false there, THEN you should quote it and make an argument for why it’s false. Otherwise you have nothing but ad hom.

                  1. This will be my last response to you (so that you won’t assume I am avoiding you by not answering). First and foremost, such a sensitive ego that perceives any challenge as “ad hominem!” (Sorry, don’t mean to be rude, but talk about tangential silliness!) Challenging someone’s logic or position on a topic is not ad hominem. You will please note that I have never accused anyone of this (not even you). But please don’t loosely use terms that you apparently do not understand. (BTW, while you are at it, please consult your Google graphs to chart the palpable increase in the use of “ad hominem” *on this site* -just in the last year or so. I’ve noticed your own invocation of it several times (to certain other commenters)…
                    Soooo, let’s go back to the beginning and make it simple, (1) I made a sarcastic comment (like hundred of others do)—and not even addressed to you,—about word usage (“disingenuous”) *on this site* (the original “corpus”). (2) With admitted hyperbole- a hallmark of sarcasm-, I said that Obama brought the word “back to life.” (3) From somewhere in the wings, you came forward with a “graph” ( a Google one, no less) which ostensibly plotted the word’s broader use among a much larger landscape (N=?) (whatever your motivation)… (4) I simply used your own graph to respond and dismiss it as insufficient to displace what I said. End of story. We each have different opinions.
                    (5) The professor is not “my pal.” I neither met nor talked with him before in my life. (6) So, here’s the part you missed: the graph explained nothing in context with/to my original comment, and I turned it back on you to nonetheless show the coincidental rise and plateau-ing of “use” during the early Obama years, particularly noting for you his use of the term in pre-presidential debate(s) as well as later presidential comments. Whether it was already on the incline prior to 2007 means nothing, as did your 1825 reference: It PEAKED during the Obama years that I mentioned.
                    You further-and importantly- failed to note the coincidental DECLINE in the years immediately following his tenure (something the prof pointed to as well)– despite the years of INCLINE that you noted.. (8) Finally, you fail to appreciate that I did NOT say the professor said I was correct–( I could have lied to you about that.)..he merely said that my deductive commentary was “totally plausible” and that your little “graph” did nothing to dispel it. Period. End of story.
                    So, you have your opinion and I have mine.Just let it go, anonymous.

                    1. lin,

                      There is a difference between opinions and T/F (factual) claims. Of course people can have different opinions! But (my opinion) people should distinguish between T/F claims and opinions, and people should work to resolve factually contradictory claims.

                      If you are now claiming that all of your claims were simply opinion and none were intended as factual, OK, in that case I badly misinterpreted some of your claims. I thought some were intended as factual claims, and a subset of those were false, and I was trying to point out why they’re false.

                      I guess I’m having trouble figuring out which of your claims you intend to be T/F and which you’re only stating as an opinion. For example, when you say “Whether it was already on the incline prior to 2007 means nothing” and “You further-and importantly- failed to note the coincidental DECLINE in the years immediately following his tenure (something the prof pointed to as well),” do you only mean those as opinions? Because as factual claims, they’re false (e.g., his tenure ended in 2017, and the relative decline started in 2008, when he took office).

                      It’s my opinion that you don’t understand what is and isn’t an ad hom fallacy, so you’ve mistakenly criticized an accurate reference to the fallacy.

                      “please consult your Google graphs to chart the palpable increase in the use of “ad hominem” *on this site* -just in the last year or so”

                      AFAIK, it is not possible to create a site-specific Ngram. If you think it’s possible, and if you intend your claim as factual, the onus is on you (not me) to demonstrate that your claim is accurate.

                      Next time, if I respond to you about a claim of yours that strikes me as T/F, I’ll try to remember to double-check whether you’re asserting it’s true rather than just personal opinion.

    4. Hi Lin,

      You have made my day! Laughter is the best medicine and the “disingenuous” bit has made me laugh out loud a couple of time already. I don’t know if you saw it but I commented down the thread to explain why this word suddenly became ubiquitous in the forum.

      What is hilarious is that three of the four sock puppets have replied to contest your comment about “disingenuous” being word-bombed and while doing so they all used the same word again!! Send in the clowns!!

  7. OT

    Meanwhile, Joke Buydem is complicit in the illegal, international, racist invasion of America to dilute Americans out of existence.
    ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

    “Government Contractor Spills The Beans”…

    as to Why Biden is Hiding Illegal Immigrant Flights in The Dead Of Night: “If This Gets Out, the Government is BETRAYING The American People” But, on Wednesday, one of those federal contractors was caught on police bodycam video saying the quiet part out loud. In the video that was obtained by Tucker Carlson Tonight, a supervisor for the operation speaks with an officer as yet another planeload of illegals is unloaded at the Westchester Airport in New York. During their brief chat, the officer presses the federal contractor about what’s actually happening here, questioning why they are working so hard to keep these flights hidden.

    “What’s the big secret? Everyone knows it’s happening,” the officer points out about the flights. “You know why.” Likely unaware he was on camera, the supervisor eventually gives in, providing an awfully honest answer about the true nature of this illegal scheme.

    “I get the whole secrecy and all this s*it, but this [decision] is even above my f*cking paygrade.

    Because like, look who’s in office, that’s why.

    If it gets out… the government is betraying the American people.”

    The supervisor also explains a little bit about what he is there to do – mainly, stay under the radar, which doesn’t really work too well when you are talking to a police officer with a body cam.

    “Alot of this is just down low stuff that we don’t tell people.

    Because what we don’t want to do is attract attention. We don’t want the media. Like we don’t even know where we’re going when they tell us.”

    – Julian Conradson

  8. As sad as it is, Biden won the election. He can nominate who he wants for whatever reason, as far as I’m concerned. Elections have consequences.

    It’s up to the Senate to review the candidate’s qualities and demeanor. All we can do is hope they do their job.

    Frankly, I have no real issues with the women on the short list. They seem well qualified and have the expected viewpoints on the Law.

    The bigger question is what if Biden were to nominate his awful VP, Kamala Harris? If the vote is 50-50, can she vote for herself to break the tie (seems like a conflict of interest).

    1. 2020 was stolen from President Donald J. Trump.

      Unconstitutional means against the law; mail voting is against fundamental law.

      An election cannot be conducted on one day, Tuesday, by mail.

      Conducting an election for 30 days prior to Tuesday is a criminal act.

      Directly violating state election laws is a criminal act.

      What part of stealing an election do you not understand?
      _____________________________________________

      “Pennsylvania Court Says State’s Mail Voting Law Is Unconstitutional”

      The decision, which could deal a blow to voting access in a critical battleground state, was immediately appealed.

      – NY Times
      _________

      Election Day is Tuesday – ONE DAY – ONE 24 HOUR PERIOD.
      _________________________________________________

      2 U.S. Code § 7 – Time of election

      The Tuesday next after the 1st Monday in November, in every even numbered year, is established as the day for the election, in each of the States and Territories of the United States, of Representatives and Delegates to the Congress commencing on the 3d day of January next thereafter.

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