Nominee Sotomayor, continued

Judge Sonia Sotomayor with Obama and Biden

The big political fight continues to be over Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court, judge Sonia Sotomayor. I haven’t said much about this, because I don’t have much to say about Sotomayor’s credentials (a judgement better left to legal experts) and I don’t think any amount of rightwing bleating is going to stop her confirmation absent some excessively stupid behavior on her part.

But, I have seriously been surprised by the level of tone-deaf insanity being leveled at Sotomayor by her Republican critics. From Media Matters, here’s a sampling of what they’ve said so far:

  • MSNBC’s Pat Buchanan called Sotomayor a “lightweight,” “an anti-white, liberal judicial activist.” He and his sister Bay both claimed that Sotomayor’s nomination was the result of “affirmative action.”
  • Rep. Tom Tancredo on CNN claimed Sotomayor was a member of the “Latino KKK.”
  • Jeffrey Kuhner, filling in for right-wing radio host Michael Savage, claimed Sotomayor believes “that America is a racist, sexist, homophobic and misogynist society.”
  • Fox News’ Glenn Beck said Sotomayor’s appointment was more evidence of a Marxist “hostile takeover” of the United States. He also called her a “racist,” who “is not that bright” and “divisive.”
  • Savage described Sotomayor as “Chairman O’s pick for the Supreme Court” and a “radical activist.”
  • Radio host and conservative movement leader Rush Limbaugh called Sotomayor “an angry woman,” “bigot,” and “racist.”
  • Mark Krikorian, over at the National Review Online, had an issue with the pronunciation of Sotomayor’s name, writing that “it sticks in my craw.”
  • Fox News’ Sean Hannity claimed Obama turned “his back on Mainstream America” by nominating “the most divisive nominee possible,” a “radical.”
  • Politico’s Mike Allen and Jonathan Martin initially reported that Sotomayor was “a Latina single mother” despite the fact that Sotomayor has no children.

I don’t think it’s hard to imagine that these sorts of attacks are going to hurt the hurt the GOP among women and Hispanic voters. I do know for sure is that the usually level-headed Matthew Yglesias is pissed:

As anyone who knows me can attest, I don’t have what you’d call a strong “Hispanic” identity. Three of my four grandparents are Jews from Eastern Europe. …

But for all that, I have to say that I am really truly deeply and personally pissed off my the tenor of a lot of the commentary on Sonia Sotomayor. The idea that any time a person with a Spanish last name is tapped for a job, his or her entire lifetime of accomplishments is going to be wiped out in a riptide of bitching and moaning about “identity politics” is not a fun concept for me to contemplated. Qualifications like time at Princeton, Yale Law, and on the Circuit Court that work well for guys with Italian names suddenly don’t work if you have a Spanish name. Heaven forbid someone were to decide that there ought to be at least one Hispanic columnist at a major American newspaper.

Somehow, when George W. Bush affects a Texas accent, that’s not identity politics. When John Edwards gets a VP nomination, that’s not identity politics. But Sonia Sotomayor! Oh my heavens! …

I think conservatives are playing with fire here, and underestimating the number of, say, Mexican-Americans in Texas who didn’t think of themselves as having a great deal in common with Puerto Ricans from New York who are waking up today to find that in the eyes of the conservative movement normal qualifications for office don’t count unless you’re a white Anglo.

Julian Sanchez too:

Look, it’s not racist to oppose a Latina judicial nominee, or to oppose affirmative action, or to point out genuine evidence of ethnic bias on the part of minorities. What we’re seeing here, though, is people clinging to the belief that Sotomayor has to be some mediocrity who struck the ethnic jackpot, that whatever benefit she got from affirmative action must be vastly more significant than her own qualities, that she’s got to be a harpy boiling with hatred for whitey, however overwhelming the evidence against all these propositions is.  This is really profoundly ugly.

I think that’s exactly right. Again, I don’t think any GOP cries of racism or attempts to paint Sotomayor as an Affirmative Action nominee will work. She’s popular among the public and the Republicans just don’t have enough votes in the Senate to block her. But the rightwing arguments against her are so widespread and repugnant that we just can’t ignore them.


  1. Ian

    There is so much fake outrage over this woman’s appointment on both sides. I’m not saying you are faking it. The Republicans are only opposing this because its a Democratic appointment, so they feel like its is their duty to paint this woman as bad. There is a hint of a good idea there. They should be questioning this woman’s credentials and playing devil’s advocate to make sure she is properly vetted. Unfortunately the most intelligent arguments they seem to be coming up with are “She’s Latin! and a woman! Boo! Hiss!” I’m sure there are some GOP guys out there being reasonable about this, but the highest profile and most vocal guys are not.

    The Democrats are being equally ridiculous. “Oh no how can they say such racist things!?” It is all just fake outrage/knee-jerk reactions on both sides. Same crap, different day. Let’s be honest, Obama didn’t pick Sotomayor simply because she was qualified. I suppose it is a possibility. I’m not saying she isn’t qualified and I have no objections to her selection. There are probably quite a few judges out there who are qualified. There is some political and racial motivation to her selection however. Obama made a pretty smart political move in her selection. The GOP is playing right into it too. He selects a hispanic woman, the GOP comes out and attacks her stupidly just because she is hispanic, and then the GOP looks like the don’t like hispanics. Add on the fact that Obama selected a woman, and maybe he wins over some independent women voters as well. This will help him and other Democrats in the near future in elections.

    Its the same crap as when Obama was elected. “Oh look at how progressive we are, we elected a black man!” and now its “She is the Latin Obama!” Its ridiculous how the left pats themselves on the back for this. THAT’S racist to me. Why is it that a black man being elected is such a surprise? Why is it an accomplishment for all of us, rather than just for him and his party? Our nation has an ugly past, and we shouldn’t get to celebrate because we finally, after 232 years as a nation and a few hundred years of slavery before that, could finally convince people that a minority could run the country. Its terrible that we ever couldn’t see electing a minority in the first place.

  2. Chris

    There is some political and racial motivation to her selection however.
    Agreed. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Presidents on both sides have long used cabinet and judicial appointments to cement elements of their electoral coalition. Sometimes this is done on along racial, religious and regional lines. As long as the people selected are qualified, there is no harm and a lot to be gained in terms of diverse viewpoints.

  3. Andrew

    Agreed. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

    Oh hell no it’s not a bad thing. While Obama has been a disappointment on a number of fronts, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching him ratfuck the shit of the GOP.

  4. Biff

    I agree. It’s very brave and smart of President Obama to appoint a conservative judge to the SCOTUS. Our friends in the insurance companies should be well represented now. But, of course, it’s the repububthuglican attacks on her that concern us most, not her actual record. After all, as Chris pointed out, we as mere lowly citizens aren’t qualified to pass such high judgements. Especially now that we’re in power and call the shots thanks to President Obama’s Hope for Change.

  5. Chris

    Or you could have just said we shouldn’t like Sotomayor because she’s in bed with insurance companies. I’m sympathetic to that criticism.

    My point was that I don’t feel qualified in judging her legal opinions. Sometimes legal opinions are blatantly erroneous. But how am I supposed to judge a large set of seemingly reasonable opinions (and compare them against opinions from other potential nominees or past nominees) in my spare time?

  6. Biff

    Well said, Chris! That’s just my point. None of us are able or qualified to judge President Obama or our Democratic Party leaders or their judicial nominees on their actions. We have to rely on their words and good intentions and what we know is in their hearts.

  7. Chris

    There are plenty of legal scholars and full time journalists that can and should dig through her legal opinions and come to an informed opinion. I’m just not one of them.