Opinion: Sotomayor hearings: Word count -- Senators out-talk her 2 to 1 (Updated)


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(UPDATE: Well now our good friend Thomas De Senso, the first one to think of this, has completed his word-count analysis of the Sotomayor testimony, and shown that those senators who said they were so eager to hear what she had to say were actually a whole lot more eager to hear what they themselves had to say. Check this out.

(More importantly, check out diligent Thomas’ stunning conclusions here: Just on the fourth and final day of testimony -- as laboriously transcribed in this space -- the senators allowed other witnesses to collectively speak more than 5,000 words more on that one day than they allowed Judge Sotomayor to utter during her entire time on the stand. Talk about yada-yada!)


Yada yada yada. According to some politics blog -- we’ll call it Top of the Ticket -- that’s been publishing the entire transcript of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination, the senators perched in their official comfy chairs behind their nifty nameplates said they’re just so very pleased to have the nice nominee appear before them.

As if Sotomayor had a choice, assuming she still wants the robe job across the street.

They are so happy to see her, the committee senators said, because they are all so very eager to hear in her own words what she thinks and how she thinks and explore her all-American story from da Bronx.

One problem: According to an unofficial word count, these guys are out-talking the nominee.

Better than two senatorial words for each one of hers after only two days.

And that was before Arlen Specter opened his mouth for questions.

As of Wednesday morning, the senators had spouted 50,082 words.


In response Judge Sotomayor had been able to utter barely 20,000 words (20,728, to be exact).

Monday was the worst day: senators 23,175, Sotomayor 942.

Some ‘hearing.’ Maybe they ought to call it a ‘talking.’

Here’s how we know this: The Ticket’s good friend Thomas De Seno has an outrageous theory that politicians love to talk -- more precisely, they love to hear themselves talk. These legislators, De Seno holds, are the kind of folks who say things like, ‘But that’s enough about me. What do you think of my legislation?’

So De Seno set himself a tall task. Using The Ticket’s transcript, he started counting every word uttered in this week of meetings. (Having processed all those words, we’re going to accept his total without a Minnesota recount.)

And if you agree with De Seno’s theory, you won’t be surprised to learn that he’s correct.

The Judiciary Committee members, lead by Democrat Chairman Pat Leahy of Vermont (see top photo), are not doing a whole lot of hearing at their hearing. They’re doing a whole lot of talking at their hearing.

Instead, it’s Sotomayor, and the watching American public, who are sentenced to do a whole lot of hearing at her hearing.

De Seno’s fascinating numbers are all right here. One word, Thomas: Thanks.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Few words: Click here. Twitter alerts of each Ticket item. Free. Or follow @latimestot

Photo credits: Wally McNamee / Getty Images; Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty Images