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.
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.