Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor and the Ghost of Harriet Miers

In a 2007 speech to Planned Parenthood, candidate Obama told us exactly what President Obama would do about Supreme Court nominations: “We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting my judges.” (My emphasis.)

Now he’s actually done it, with his nomination of Sonia Sotomayor.

While many of us knew that while she sat first on the federal district court, and for the last decade on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, she lacked appropriate judicial temperament (to use a phrase from the Bork confirmation hearing), was no intellectual, viewed the role of judges as akin to legislators, believed that race and gender trumped precedent and sound judicial decision-making, had indefensible political relationships, and otherwise had no business being a federal judge (let alone a Supreme Court justice), now anyone who can read (and expends the effort to do so) knows Sonia Sotomayor’s manifest deficiencies.

Simply put, Obama’s nominee is an affirmative action lightweight with a racist-separatist agenda (think La Raza), lacking even the faintest idea of the difference between legislators (who are politically accountable) and judges (who are not).

This said, however, the question remains whether she will be confirmed.

The answer, sadly, is yes. Unless . . . .

There has been much talk lately about the lost soul of the Republican Party: The hopeless and helpless candidacy of John McCain, the ascendancy of Michael Steele to the party chairmanship, the Colin Powell apostasy, the absence of a national leader with brains and style, the inability to field sufficient credible candidates. . .

. . . even tepid recent public statements by some leading Republican Senators that they have open minds about Sotomayor’s nomination, and that there will be no filibuster.

Do not these Republicans (among them some who are conservatives, at least on judicial issues) understand that Obama’s Sotomayor nomination can be turned into his Harriet Miers moment?

They should not have to be reminded that when George W. Bush engaged in some good-ole-Texas cronyism by nominating the utterly unqualified White House, counsel the roof fell in on both of them. Republicans, Conservatives, Libertarians and even a few Democrats rose in revolt, loudly protesting that the President of the United States (driven perhaps by his shallow Chief of Staff) could have made such a stupid mistake.

Miers, of course, was either yanked by her sponsors or had the good sense to cut and run.

Sotomayor’s nomination can similarly fare, and in the bargain Obama can be made to look as stupid as Bush.

There is so much to nail her with, beyond a Miers-like incompetence, that her opponents would have an easy time, and in the process could galvanize the public. She worships at the altar of the Living Constitution, she believes judges make policy, she thinks Latinas and Women can do better than white males, she is intolerant, she is associated with an anti-Semitic organization which seeks to reclaim American soil for Mexico, three of five court of appeals decisions in which she participated have been reversed by the very Court Obama is trying to appoint her to.

If Republican Senators act determined, in concert, and go for the jugular, they can shipwreck Sotomayor’s candidacy on the shoals of Obama’s cynicism and his own racism.

But to do so, and it doesn’t look like they will, they’ll have to act out of character. They’ll have to have what most of them lack: cohones. (If I spelled it correctly, Google would probably yank this blog; they may anyhow. If they do, please go to for information of where I will relocate.)