The Most Dangerous Game
William Rivers Pitt, t r u t h o u t:
Needless to say, it's on.
Before the nomination of Judge Sotomayor, lots of people were expecting President Obama to replace Justice Souter with someone virtually identical to Justice Souter: moderate, even-tempered, contemplative, and above all else, inoffensive to as much of the galaxy of interested interest groups as could be managed. Instead, Mr. Obama nominated someone moderate, even-tempered, contemplative, profoundly experienced, and above all else, guaranteed to hyperactivate a certain segment of those interested interests while putting the Republican Party in an almost inescapable bind. [...]
The Republican right-wing's campaign of resistance settled into a predictable pattern almost immediately after the announcement. While those voicing opposition to Judge Sotomayor claimed to be surprised and disappointed that Obama chose such a "controversial" nominee, the truth is they've been suiting up for weeks to fight whomever finally got the nod. Their attacks were triggered automatically and would have come no matter what; if Mr. Obama had nominated Jesus of Nazareth to replace Justice Souter, the GOP would now be denouncing Him for favoring a socialist welfare state because He gave away loaves and fishes and circumvented the insurance industry when He raised Lazarus from the dead.
A fair portion of the arguments against Judge Sotomayor, therefore, have been pro forma, along all the old, well-traveled lines. The fact that Mr. Obama nominated a Hispanic woman to the bench, however, has inspired a particularly shrill reaction from the segment of right-wing interested interests that are somehow genetically hard-wired to freak out whenever someone besides a white male gets a gig in government.
It was a canny political move on Mr. Obama's part to nominate an indisputably qualified minority woman to the high court, because in doing so, he has once again scrambled the GOP's eggs. As the Times editorial noted, Judge Sotomayor brings all the qualifications one would expect and demand of a Supreme Court justice to the table, and her qualifications are further enhanced by her rich personal history. She is an excellent nominee, and Senate Republicans - already weakened by consecutive electoral defeats and lavishly despised by a majority of Americans - stand demonstrably incapable of thwarting Obama's choice, and run the risk of further damaging their prospects if they try. [...]
The problem for the GOP is they may have to fight Sotomayor even if it means political suicide. The raving messiahs of the GOP base like Limbaugh are already up in arms over a cavalcade of anti-Obama issues and fighting a range war against so-called "moderates" within the party. Now, they're demanding that Senate Republicans fight to the knife to defeat Judge Sotomayor's nomination. If Limbaugh and his fellow rabble-rousers whip enough GOP base voters into a froth, the Republican Party will be stuck between a rock and a hard place: fail to fight and incite the base, or decide to fight and wind up giving mortal offense to a large swath of Hispanic voters in America.
The GOP has been courting Hispanic voters, with varying degrees of success, for many years now; Hispanic voters are the fastest-growing electoral bloc in the country, and the GOP covets their support in no small part because their survival as a viable party depends on it. If Senate Republicans go after Sotomayor, they run a great risk of alienating an entire generation of Hispanic voters, which simply eviscerates GOP hopes for a recovery at the polls going forward. But if Senate Republicans don't fight the Sotomayor nomination, they run a great risk of further alienating and infuriating the leading voices of an already deranged base, an event that could lead to open revolution within the party and be just as damaging in the long run. [...]
It's going to be a hot summer no matter what. Get ready, and enjoy the show.