Saturday, May 30, 2009

All Politics Is Madness: The Sotomayor Gambit

It's been a mad week, in more ways than one, with Obama announcing his first Supreme Court Justice nominee with Sonia Sotomayor, a Puerto Rican woman with a long career as prosecutor and judge... and with the wingnut talking head faction of the Republican Party responding by going into Crazy-Ass Insane Mode so quickly that forget Light Speed, they've gone to Plaid.

The best I can do right now is throw up a few thoughts:

  • Sotomayor isn't Harriet Miers. Miers was at most an office manager throughout her legal career: she had some corporate litigation cases but most of her time was served as head of the Texas Bar Association. Miers lacked courtroom experience, above all the experience of being a judge at any level. Even conservatives were balking at her nomination. Bush the Lesser's administration tried to weaken that argument by pointing out other SCOTUS nominees like Earl Warren never had judicial experience as well: that actually inflamed the Far Right more because conservatives hate hate HATE that Warren as the worst of those detested Activist Judges.
    Before I lose focus on this: By comparison Sotomayor has judicial experience up the wazoo. Placed at a District level by Bush the Elder in 1992, Clinton bumped her up to the Appellate level in 1996 and she's been on the Democrats' SCOTUS short-list since 2005. Toss into that her brief career as a DA prosecutor and that's already a career equal to the likes of Alito, Breyer and Ginsberg (the other Justices have barely a few years of judicial experience but have decades with the Attorney General's office and related federal agencies that handle constitutional issues on a daily basis, giving them quality experience).
  • Sotomayor is Puerto Rican, and would be - technically - the first Hispanic SCOTUS Justice ever (there's semantic arguing over how to classify Justice Cardozo: he's Portuguese/Spanish, but he had considered himself of Jewish ethnicity above all, so...)
  • I think Obama knew exactly what he was getting himself, his administration, and this nation into when he nominated Sotomayor. I think he knew the Far Right Noise Machine would go straight into Insanity Mode and attack Sotomayor within three seconds of the pre-announcement leak. He knew that the likes of Limbaugh, Gingrich, Fox Not-News, NRO, Weekly Standard, WSJ and other Right-leaning sources would not stand for ANYONE he picked, so he picked the nominee that would cause the Republicans the most self-inflicted damage. I bet Obama even knew that one little paragraph (and it IS little, for God's sake) where Sotomayor said her life experience as a "wise" Latina woman would give her "better" judicial insight than a white male and that it would drive the Limbaugh crowd to crazier heights of shriekitude, that her one statement would make the Republicans overreact to her being a woman and a Hispanic. That the Far Right would even go so far as to charge Sotomayor (and by extension their true target Obama) with "reverse racism" or even outright racism (focusing on the Ricci case, which will most likely be the blunt instrument used against her in the Senate), even when her actual judicial record shows no such evidence. The Far Right is going so far as to bring back retired SOB Tom Tancredo. Remember him? The one idiot who went out of his way to insult Miami Cubans (!!!), and then feigned outrage when they assaulted him when he dared to show up later in Miami for a book signing. There's crazy, and then there's stupid, and then there's Tancredo the one Republican who automatically drives every Hispanic-American into the arms of the Democrats. And so you've got all this overreaction by the wingnut base that would further alienate women and Hispanics against the Republicans. When a Hispanic Republican media adviser openly complains about the flame war - he didn't hide behind the "anonymous source" shield - that's telling you something.
  • And all Obama had to do was select a qualified judge. All he has to do now is stoke the Far Right with a few more half-hearted pseudo-apologies, and then sit back and let the GOP eat themselves with their own rage, impotence and racist stupidity. Dear G. Gordon Liddy: don't confuse Puerto Ricans for illegal aliens. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens (since 1917). They may be Hispanics but that is such an over-arching umbrella covering everyone from Mexico to Chile that its' ethnic status is actually rather fluid.
  • The current polling numbers show Obama's gamble is playing beautifully: all the polling shows comfortable acceptance margins by the public for Sotomayor and for Obama's handling of the pick. While the poll numbers always fluctuate, there's little the Republicans can say or do that would make things worse for the Sotomayor selection. Unless they get even more racist and misogynistic than they already are. It *would* be nice to see if libel and defamation laws have any teeth left...
  • The odds of a filibuster are surprisingly low. While it may be the one weapon the Republican Far Right wingnuts will eventually hope (grope?) for, the deal is the Republicans who are actually in office with their own asses on the line aren't about to go nuclear on a pick like this. Having a heavy hitter like Sen. Cornyn openly rebuke Limbaugh is rare: equally rare is that there's no sign Cornyn has back-stepped his statement or apologized to the Grand Overlord Rush (yet, the weekend is still young).
    If a Republican is crazy enough to force a filibuster, or even a cloture vote on the matter, you are gonna see the biggest stampede of Puerto Ricans to the local Elections offices to switch their voter IDs to (D)emocrats in human history (by the by, there's more Puerto Ricans in the U.S. than in Puerto Rico!).
That's all I have for the moment (but not the nonce, by what my dictionary tells me). I'm sure there'll be more batsh-t crazy stuff over this as the days pass.

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