In a tactical retreat, the spin of the story has changed.
The White House said Friday that Judge Sonia Sotomayor chose her words poorly when she suggested in 2001 that a "wise Latina woman" could reach a better conclusion as a judge than a white male could.
How she said it, and in what context, matters less than no longer defending those words.
Critics of the Supreme Court nominee have seized on the remark to suggest that Judge Sotomayor wouldn't give a fair shake to all parties in the cases she decides.
The words offer her opponents something to grasp. Repeated enough, spun enough, the charge begins to take on some heft. Never mind that she happens to be correct: a wise Latin indeed will reach better conclusions in some cases than a white male, yet the Senate is composed mostly of white males, who are not taking her comments kindly.
"I think she'd say that her word choice in 2001 was poor," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said at a briefing.
That is what she will say, now.
Judge Sotomayor was "simply making the point that personal experiences are relevant to the process of judging," Mr. Gibbs said, and "that your experiences impact your understanding. I think we all agree with that."
Sam Alito apparently does. And I agree.
Earlier this week, administration officials said the nominee's comments at the University of California, Berkeley, were being taken out of context.
They were, and are, but it is not a battle worth waging.
Mr. Gibbs he hadn't spoken with Judge Sotomayor directly but had "discussions with people" about the matter.
"People"? Rham Emannuel, perhaps?