David B.




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May 28, 2009

GOP and Sotomayor: Some People are Never Happy


Poor, poor Republican Party. After eight solid years of packing not only the federal judiciary but the U.S. Attorneys offices and the entire federal legal apparatus with right-wing loons, they must finally come to grips with the concept of a Supreme Court nominee credentialed from something other than a Liberty University comic book correspondence course. And she’s a woman. And one of them furriners to boot.


Wasn’t it only four/eight short years ago that proud pseudo-Texan George W. Bush was gladhanding his way through Miami and South Texas with Spanish homilies flowing from his lips like honey as various and sundry party apparatchiks babbled about Hispanic voters being a cornerstone of the “new” Republican base and a lynchpin of Republican electoral hopes for decades to come? Hispanics, they said, were social conservatives by nature – the “new,” bigger-tented GOP would happily roll out the welcome mat.


Naturally, that lasted until about November 5. Then it was back to the rube-scarin,’ base-solidifyin,’ contribution-generatin’ bugbear of illegal immigration, and apart from a few demented Batistite proto-fascist Cuban exiles in South Florida, wayward Hispanic voters swiftly beat a retreat back to the Democratic fold.


And along comes Sonia Sotomayor – distinguished and experienced jurist, graduated at the top of her class at Princeton – and distinctly to the right of Republican-nominated, Republican-confirmed departing justice David Souter. Not a wild-eyed liberal firebrand, but a rather dozy, milquetoast, middle-of-the-middle-of-the-road moderate. A Hispanic female. In short, precisely the sort of person George W. Bush himself might nominate, were he still in power and concerned with currying the favor of the Hispanic electorate.


As a nominee, Sotomayor should be, by rights, the safest of safe choices for the high court. Her judicial career is both unquestionably capable and cottage-cheese bland, seemingly utterly void of any hint of dreaded “activism” benefiting either the left or right. Minority background aside, Sotomayor’s record is that of go-along-to-get-along, ever-hesitant to pose any serious challenge to past precedent, corporate privilege or existing political power structures. She’s not a sociopath like Antonin Scalia, nor a goose-stepping totalitarian like John Roberts – but she’s no progressive, either. She is a capable, cautious, diligent stopgap, and thus a disappointment to liberals everywhere.


So why aren’t Republicans dancing in the streets? They offered up Harriet Miers, the southern-fried Sarah Palin of the bench, a rigid partisan ideologue and Bush loyalist and were deservedly shot down. They had had every reason to expect President Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee to be an anti-Miers of the left – certainly better educated, better informed, less corrupt, and more readily confirmed, but no less transparently partisan. Instead, Obama offered them Christmas in June – a seemingly ideology-free, post-partisan nominee whose most memorable judicial decision amounted to saving professional baseball. If they weren’t in love, at least they should be relieved.


Instincts, however, die hard – and there is no more reliable Republican instinct than to lash out blindly at the insufficiently Caucasian. Sotomayor is, they say, a “reverse racist,” presumably by virtue of denying a qualified white candidate a Supreme Court seat; and an “affirmative action nominee,” presumably by virtue of not being that white candidate.


Sorry, Ms. Precedent-setting-first-Hispanic-nominated-to-the-Supreme-Court, you’re just not good enough for the shrinking big tent of the GOP – and presumably, neither are the votes of the tens of millions of Hispanic-American voters who are watching your confirmation process with particular interest. We’d rather fold our big tent, thank you, and go back to the welcoming arms of our ideologically pure peeps in the deep south, our beloved base – its missing recent cornerstone notwithstanding.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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