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May 28, 2009 07:33 PM UTC

The Perils Of "Sotomayor Rage"

  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE: Tom Tancredo handily winning the race to the proverbial bottom, courtesy TPM:

From the New York Times:

President Obama’s selection of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for a seat on the Supreme Court has put the Republican Party in a bind, forcing it to weigh the cost of aggressively opposing the first Hispanic named to the court against its struggle to appeal to Hispanic voters.

The Republican Party has been embroiled in a public argument over whether to tend to the ideological interests of its conservative base or to expand its appeal to a wider variety of voters to regain its strength after the defeats of 2008. Many conservative activists and political strategists came out fiercely against Judge Sotomayor as soon her name was announced, denouncing her as liberal and promising Mr. Obama a tough nomination fight.

“The G.O.P. has to make a stand,” said Scott Reed, who managed Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign. “This is what the base and social conservatives really care about, and we need to brand her a liberal with some out-of-the-mainstream positions. Forget about cosmetics and ethnic heritage, and focus on her record.”

But some Republicans warned that the image of the party’s throwing a roadblock before a historic nomination could prove politically devastating…

“If Republicans make a big deal of opposing Sotomayor, we will be hurling ourselves off a cliff,” said Mark McKinnon, who was a senior adviser to Mr. Bush and has long advocated expanding the party’s appeal. “Death will not be assured. But major injury will be.”

And while conservative activists and some Republican leaders outside the Senate are calling for a strong effort against the nomination, the reaction from some senators – who will actually vote for the nomination – has been notably measured, suggesting that they are not necessarily looking for a fight, barring some revelation in the weeks ahead.

As we discussed yesterday, Tom Tancredo didn’t get the memo–and he was joined in his fascinatingly absurd “racist” mantra by GOP luminaries like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh, as well as locally on your conservative AM talk radio dial. In its way, this is the same problem the GOP had opposing the stimulus with “Swastika Guy,” or with Dave Schultheis wishing AIDS on babies. The crazies hog the limelight and whatever message was supposed to stick with voters backfires–and soon, all anyone remembers is the backfire.

There is a limited window for the GOP to get control of its message, and oppose Sotomayor (if they choose to at all) with fact-based arguments (to the extent they exist, Sotomayor is moderate enough that she has even some liberals worried) instead of over-the-top nonsense that winds up doing far more harm to their long term interests than Justice Sotomayor ever could. We’re betting most Americans don’t even know how many members are on the Supreme Court, let alone the names of any of them; but it’s not hard to remember strange racist rants like these. Another news cycle of regrettable posturing from a small but highly visible segment of GOP influentials like we’ve seen so far and the aforementioned window will close.


44 thoughts on “The Perils Of “Sotomayor Rage”

  1. .

    I predict that the lead Republican critic of this nominee is Hispanic, a woman or both.  

    I predict the criticism focuses on a comparison of her values to mainstream Hispanic values, as if there is such a thing.


    1. have put themselves in an awkward position by not having very many of those in the best place to make such an argument from.  Zero women Hispanics in the senate.  As far as women, I doubt that Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) whose home state population is roughly 36% hispanic and make up 1/5 of the voting population, and the two from Maine are likely wishin that Sotomayor were a bit more liberal.

      That leaves Mel Martinez in the Senate and possibly Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in the House as the two most likely to be looked at.  Martinez isn’t running for reelection, so he may or may not be willing to take on such a role.  If, as you suggest, Republicans are looking for a woman and/or hispanic to lead the charge Ros-Lehtinen would seem to be the obvious choice in that she seem quite knowlegeable on issues and presents well on television (which begs the question, why has she not been tapped by Republicans for higher office in Florida?).

    2. I predict that will go down really well. Will mainstream America identify with this Wendy Long character, or with Sotomayor? I think asking that question answers itself.

      Unfortunately for them, the coordination on the GOP side has been a disaster. The lead attack dogs have no idea how to connect with regular Americans–even if they wanted to. Their main audience anyway is the dwindling faction of uber-right partisans who are their fund their operations–not exactly a winning coalition in American politics lately. That disconnect shows that there effort is less about Sotomayor, than about establishing credentials for long-term job security. Lastly, it is obvious that none of those bobbleheads are coordinating with the Senate GOP; so there is no strategy.

      We saw something similar when pro-choice groups tried to go after Roberts, and ended up legitimizing the pick because they were so overboard.

      So here we see there is no real message other than over the top attacks on Sotomayor’s character that is extremely alienating to women, Hispanics, and mainstream Americans. The first round of polls show that the public generally favors this pick. I hope the mouth-frothing continues. Having guys like Tom Tancredo and New Gingrich setting the tone for the Republican Party will make this process go even more smoothly.  

  2. of repeating the mistake Democrats made with John Roberts. When Bush nominated Harriet Meiers it caused such an outrage that as soon as Meiers withdrew her name, Bush could have nominated pretty much anyone he wanted to.

    If the Republicans keep up the “neo-racist” bullshit, they might very well get someone far more left wing than Sotomayor, and they’ll be wishing they just confirmed her in the first place.

  3. The President has definately wedged the reds on this, and it’s because his nominee is so moderate that even Democrats are worried that she’d be likely to come down on the side of corporate in future rulings. For them it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t. For the President, it’s sheer brilliance.

    The wingnuts  (cunny bob newman, caplis, rosen, koppel, carroll, jones etc. locally) are attacking via talking points, without any research, but their listeners/readers are a tiny demographic.

    The red legislators are in a sticky wicket. She’s vastly more qualified than  Alito was, based on Alito’s overturn rate alone. (Not my litmus test, but rather that of fox news sycophant major garrett. He stepped on his tongue at the W/H presser yesterday).

    Sessions has to hope beyond hope that “something bad, anything bad”, surfaces in the next few weeks. Otherwise, as the lead red witch hunter, he’s going to look every bit the part of the racist, hompohobic, sexist southern white republican that he is, allways has been, allways will be.

    The reds bragged about Alito’s “empathy” toward immigrants during his confirmation run. Bad decision to hit Judge Sotomayor on “empathy”.

    Great pick, let’s sit back and watch the red base get even nastier and shrink even further in their quest for conservative purity.  

    1. During the confirmation process, we need to know her stance on choice.

      Other than that, I agree 100% with what you said.

      Can I also add that the entire premise of their whole argument–that she’s a reverse racist–is crap. Reverse racism does not exist. The fact that Rush Limbaugh and all the rest of them can say what they’re saying right now (calling themselves victims, saying that she’s the one who’s going to persecute them) without even pausing for one second to think about how privileged they are to be white, christian, and wealthy, it boggles the mind.

  4. Rs are only winning anymore in a shrinking number of far right districts where they can only escape being primaried out by staying in the Limbaugh amen corner.  

    Individual elected Rs have a choice between helping turn the party away from the brink by appealing to moderates and indies and  restoring the possibility of breaking the party out of its shrinking geography or hanging on to their own individual seats by pushing the Limbaugh racist red meat. They can’t do both at once. This is the corner they’ve painted themselves into.  It’s going to be tough to break out.

    Looks like they may be stuck falling in lne with Limbaugh and Rove on Sotomayor being an unqualified, dumb, affirmative action pick when she has more bench experience than any pick in recent history and graduated second in her Princeton class.  Good luck winning back the middle with that.

  5. I’ve read regarding the GOP’s problem with how to oppose this nomination:

    The crazies hog the limelight and whatever message was supposed to stick with voters backfires–and soon, all anyone remembers is the backfire.

      1. How come I never come up with anything that witty or precise? I mean, that is just brilliant, whichever Pols wrote that one.  

  6. I strongly object to your use of a quote from the NYT of 291 words. Despite a link, an extract of that length obviates the need for a reader on this site to go to the NYT site (and, in the process, perhaps generate some marginal benefit to the organization that created the story in the first place).

    Simply crediting the source is entirely irrelevant. Your use of extended extracts surely constitutes copyright violation–in spirit if not in the fine print.

    What’s now needed is a link to AdBlocker–at least for users of Firefox–activated whenever visiting ColoradoPols.ripoff:

    Meantime, why on earth would anyone who cares about the viability of the NYT and other legitimate news gathering organizations contribute editorial content to a site with your sense–or lack thereof–of acceptable copy-and-pastitis?

    1. You’ve got a lot of blogs to go after there, pal. I count 1,132 words total in this article, 291 hardly “obviates the need” for readers to visit the NYT story. Get a grip, most reporters will tell you Pols does a better job crediting their sources and “fair use” than most blogs.

      I can probably find some longer quotes, too. Any particular reason you spazzed out on this one?

    2. for your comment. The ads on Daily Kos drive me mad and I just downloaded your link. Voila! Problem solved! Thank you, seriously, for the link.  

        1. God, I love it! DKos makes me crazy with all of the ads. I always read about turning the ads off but didn’t know how until Jo gave a link.  

          1. Gots ta admit, that’s a cool plugin. I’m going to use this a lot.

            Still not buying the copyright stuff, though. Would prefer peace between media, Pols is surer than hell not denting the New York Times’ traffic.

            1. with the copyright thing. It’s constantly brought up at Daily Kos–fair use and all that. And frankly, I have no idea what is considered legal or illegal but I don’t think 200 plus words constitutes copyright violation.  

              1. but I don’t think 200 plus words constitutes copyright violation.


                I have no idea what’s right or wrong,

                but I don’t think I’m wrong.


                I have no idea what the law is,

                but if I’m doing it, I don’t think it’s illegal.  

                1. I guess I’ll stop being diplomatic and say it flat out–200 words is not a copyright violation. Since you seem to love black and white, perhaps that will suit you better.

                  Nor does the reprinting of a blocked quote from an article of that length deter people from reading the full length article. If they don’t bother to read it, they probably weren’t going to in the first place, Jo.  

                  1. 1. Copyright law bans the use of any copyrighted material in another medium that is regarded as “fixed,” i.e. available for looking at or reading. Period. The length has nothing to do with it–although it may exacerbate the violation. Point to it with a link, yes; summarize the meaning, yes. But to post a block of text a la ColoradoPols.ripoff is a violation of copyright law. Repeated violation of the law…by ColoradoPols and others…does not change the law, or make the practice legal.

                    2. A “fair use” exception applies to scholarly works and to students … neither of which applies to ColoradoPols.

                    3. Your last paragraph about discouraging people from reading the original site is pure speculation, along the lines of your earlier statement: “I have no idea what is considered legal or illegal but….”

                    Short summaries of the law are widely available on the Internet for those who wish to become informed rather than merely opinionated.

                    1. How does Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Politico, to name a few get away with these egregious copyright violations? Because they use blocked quotes from articles on an hourly basis.

                      And you really feel you know more by reading a summary on the Internet than their hosts of resident attorneys? Really? Hehehehe. Thanks for the laugh. That cracked me up, Jo.

                      Sorry, but I think you’re wrong. Full of shit would be more succinct, since that’s what you prefer.

                      Speaking of opinionated rather than informed, have you looked in the mirror, lovely JO?

                    2. …that you’ve won an argument: the other side resorts to juvenalia such as “full of shit.”

                      Kindly point to an example of Huffington Post posting copyright material–need not be in the past hour, although that would bolster your argument– from another published source as a “block quote” a la ColoradoPols. Headlines linked to a third party, of course. But not wholesale block quotes. At the same time, Huffington Post, like Politico, has original reporting/posting, plus AP stories for which they pay a subscription.

                      DailyKos is a different story; they, like ColoradoPols, primarily rely on users to post content, some of which may indeed include block quotes that violate copyright law. That’s one reason I pointed to this particular example on ColoradoPols: it was posted by the proprietor–presumably the same entity that collects revenue for advertising on the site.

                      As for fair use, there are three questions: (a) Was the original story a “creative work” versus a “public interest” piece; (b) how much added value did ColoradoPols add? and (c) how substantial was the usage (in this case, ColoradoPols extracted 291 words out of 1,442 in the original news story by Adam Nagourney). There are two distinct issues in this example: one is legal–and one can pay a lawyer to argue virtually any case–and the other is ethical: what is the legitimacy of the multiple Web sites, including ColoradoPols, that make a living by picking and copying extracts from publications that pay to create those abstracts?

                      An underlying issue from the real world in this case is not so much what is or is not legal under fair use, but rather has to do with the fact that the NYT, like many others, do not charge for access to their content on the Web (unlike their print product). What are the “damages” for “taking” something that’s “free”? Without going into convolutions, there is a particular reason that AP brought the lawsuit rather than any of its member/owners.

                      What you didn’t know, of course, is that I have spent several decades working in three different branches of the publishing industry, including executive responsibility on both sides of copyright (selling and buying). So on this particular topic, I do happen to know something about whereof I speak. That fact doesn’t make me right or wrong, but I mention it by way of suggesting that my opinion is, in fact, informed by many years of hands-on experience with this issue.

                    3. I’m completely wrong. I’m so glad you are here to clear this up for both me and the owners of this blog.  

                    4. the proprietor and his Administrative staff at Daily Kos post block quotes of material daily, yes, (gasp) even hourly sometimes, of copyrighted material. Please feel free to take a look at the blog for further proof. It has also been the subject of heated debate by Kos, the owner and his paid attorney at the site, in several diaries on the subject, by a host of folks that have been asking for clarification on copyright law regarding posting, linking and crediting other work.

                      From what I have seen from your response here as well as the ongoing discussion on other blogs, your issue seems to be with the question of ethical behavior, yes? Which, believe it or not, in my original comment, I was actually agreeing that I have been torn about what is allowed or acceptable to use. But you had to jump my shit, instead of having a real discussion like you finally got around to in your last comment, which really was excellent. It’s all about tone, Jo. Don’t be surprised when others react to you and join you in the gutter when you start out there.

                      As to my rudeness to you in the ensuing conversation, I apologize. And in the future, I think I’ll opt not to engage you as it seems that is something you are only intermittently interested in.  

                    5. you’re also wrong about fair use exception. It was brought up during the Associated Press uproar over blogs using quotes from their articles. It applies to far more than scholarly works and students. At least that is what the AP, Drudge, Huffington Post, etc. claimed.

                      Not quite the black and white you seem to love but a big ball of grey on this issue.  

  7. Easy to oppose her on her views of legislating from the bench and her comments on hispanic heritage being superior gifts to the job of judging.

    It has zero to do with her heritage.

    Imagine Roberts:

    ‘because I’m white, my experiences will make me a better judge’.  Done.  Out.

    God save us from being PC.  It will be this country’s downfall.

    1. You’re so right. Time to impeach that heritage-loving Alito from the bench. He’s invoked his immigrant ancestors once too often for my taste. And I bet Tom Tancredo would have a thing or two to say about Alito’s “heritage” too!

      Done. Out.

    2. by overreacting to her comment? The “but if she were a white man” chorus is pretty weak.

      What you’re not understanding is why it’s weak. Put simply: John Roberts would never say anything like that because he’d have no reason to. Being white and accomplishing the things that Judge Sotomayor has accomplished is not uncommon–it’s because she’s a woman, it’s because she’s Hispanic that makes her story so compelling. Thousands of white men have accomplished the exact same feats without facing the kind of uphill battle she did.

    3. a complex world to a simple one, and then make simplistic statements that follow the reduction.

      On of the reductions in this case is that between “legislating from the bench” and “strict constructivism.” Despite Scalia’s brilliance, he is weak on epistemology, and in a tiny minority of legal scholarship. The facts of linguistic ambiguity, semantic drift, and that most legislation is something no one ever read or wrote or knows in its entirety, all lead to the inevitability that legislative (and constitutional) interpretation require an act of interpretation, which cannot be replicated by a mechanical algorithm. Since human minds are required to interpret the language, there is no indisputable referent that can be strictly constructed.

      All judges, whether they admit it or not, to some extent “legislate from the bench,” and our system depends on their doing so. Legislation is written in broad brush strokes meant to be fleshed out by other branches of government in other contexts. The executive branch fleshes it out through regulations, and the judicial branch fleshes it out through legal interpretation. This is the only practical way to weave a tight enough legal net to be able to respond to particular situations and cases with adequate precision.

      This is not a matter of a political difference of opinion, but a matter of what reality imposes on us, regardless of what position we claim. There is no way for judges to play no human role in the process, no way for them to completely remove their prejudices and predispositions from the process. That’s why trying to avoid a uniformity of such prejudices and predispositions on the highest court is so important.

  8. Gosh, I got concerned when Tom Tancredo said that Sonia Sotomayor is a member of La Raza, which Tancredo described as “the KKK without the white robes and nooses.”

    So I looked up La Raza on Wikipedia:

    And now I’m thinking: Shame on Wal-Mart and the Ford Foundation for supporting the KKK!

    1. .

      That is one sanitized Wikipedia entry.  

      So, where does that “For the race everything, outside the race nothing” come from ?  

      Did Tancredo make it up ?  

      What about the ties between the different groups known as “la Raza,” including some that claim much of the Southwest USA as theirs and advocate rebellion and secession ?  

      The groups that used to advocate extermination of Gringos on their birthright land ?  

      I’ve been warned by a guy from San Luis, the town, that white folks are welcome to spend money there in the daytime, but better get out of town before dark, or risk being killed.

      He told me that whites have no right to live there, buy land there, or enforce the law there.  He might have added to stay away from their women, I don’t recall.  

      1/2 glass, if you think “la Raza” isn’t about racism, I’m guessing you didn’t grow up in Colorado.


          1. Not to be snarky about this, but I entered the quote and was immediately steered to MEChA, not NCLR. I find that googling quotes is valuable when I’m about to attribute an incendiary quote to somebody: it helps to keep my foot out of my mouth. Many times it also leads to the context of the quote, which can  so easily be taken out of context.  

            1. called La Raza Unida, which is what Barron is probably remembering, which was more militant and had some policies in the ’60s and early ’70s that might have rubbed Barron the wrong way. It has nothing to do with National Council of La Raza. Neither were SNCC and SDS the same organization, even though they both had some involvement with students.

              1. .

                it may have been at the CU campus, or maybe when I was still in high school.

                I’m guessing, Red Green, that you’re closer to my age.  

                On the other Sotomayor thread, folks I assume are younger seem to have no knowledge of the race riots on Colorado high school campuses in the late 1960’s, or of the hatred and intimidation and ugliness that many of my contemporaries experienced.

                I had Army roommates in Germany threaten to kill me for being assigned to their room, which they told me was for blacks only.  They were 100% sure I was a narc sent to bust them.  I was more intimidated by my 1SG, so I just put up with the threats.  

                I heard that there were gunfights on Navy ships at sea over race.  

                I suppose if you ignore history hard enough, everything will be just fine.  


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