That seems to be the message from the White House, which is apparently a little desperate to make the case that Barack Obama has proven his historical and diversity mettle in judicial nominations. In a new infographic for the website, the Obama administration now argues that it appointed the first confirmed Supreme Court justice “with a disability” (via Twitchy):
President Obama has only nominated two Supreme Court justices, both of whom were confirmed by the Senate — Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. The only unusual medical or physical condition known about either of them is Sotomayor’s diabetes, which is presumably the basis for this claim. My wife had Type I diabetes for almost all of her life (until her 2007 pancreas transplant), which eventually caused her blindness and kidney failure. She is classified as disabled because of her blindness, but no one ever suggested that her diabetes was a disability — it’s a medical condition that can be managed and doesn’t physically disable anyone from anything on its own, except perhaps eating sugar.
Count Kevin Drum at Mother Jones among the unimpressed with this claim:
[W]hen I clicked the link to take a look at the White House’s latest graphic wizardry, I was surprised to learn that one of Obama’s Supreme Court nominees was the first ever with a disability to win confirmation. I had no idea. But Google, as always, is my friend, and after first coming up dry on Elena Kagan, I discovered that Sonia Sotomayor has diabetes.
Did I already know this? Maybe. My memory is so bad that I couldn’t tell you whether I once knew this and have forgotten, or whether I had never heard this before. In any case, I guess I’ve added two new bits of knowledge to my brain pan today: (1) Sonia Sotomayor has diabetes, and (2) diabetes is considered a disability. Live and learn.
I’d hazard a guess that (2) would be a surprise to those with Type I diabetes, too. It’s an absurdity in service to a further absurdity, which is the relentless impulse of the White House to play the diversity card in advance of the election. Apparently, it’s no longer enough that Sotomayor is a Latina, but they need her to check the “disability” box as well, even though she’s not at all disabled. That smacks of desperation, and perhaps a bit of intellectual disability among the White House staff.