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This appears like it’s going to be much worse than even the worst cynic would have predicted

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 22:26 EDT
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Having had weeks to prepare for Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court hasn’t helped Republican hysterics take the time they need to think very carefully about launching attacks (god forbid they should accept that Obama has a right to nominate justices, of course—no matter who it is, they’re going to shit bricks, 100% regardless of the person’s views or qualifications, simply because they just don’t accept Obama’s right to hold office) so that they don’t sound like braindead morons who are too laden down with sexism and racism to even respond coherently to this nomination. They’ve got no excuse—26 days is ample time to come up with attacks that aren’t blatantly racist and sexist, even if they are fundamentally racist and sexist. But the idea of a woman of color taking a spot on the highest court of the land trumps 26 days of preparation time to learn to sound like you have a modicum of common sense. It’s time for the hysterics!

There’s two front runners right out of the gate in the “you’ve got to be fucking with me” levels of racism department. First is Mike Huckabee calling Sotomayor “Maria Sotomayor”, which is the sort of bigotry that could have easily been avoided by doing something conservatives find repugnant, and educating yourself on some basic facts. Even more startling is that Politico called Sotomayor a “Latina single mother”, a feat she managed to accomplish despite having no children at all. Even better was the fact that they used this in one of those conservative rhetorical games, where they openly attack someone’s race by whining about how that person’s race is beyond attack.

Over-the-top racist stupidity wins the day’s contest in the you’ve-got-to-be-fucking-kidding department, but sexism is bringing up the rear. Ramesh Ponnuru is claiming that Sotomayor is “Obama’s Miers”, which is a fancy way of saying that women aren’t smart enough to be Supreme Court judges. That’s because Sotomayor and Miers have nothing in common but their gender—as Scott spells out, Sotomayor has a long resume as a judge, but Miers’ main qualification was that she was a lawyer who wrote mash notes to the Shrub. Alas, the 26 days have given conservatives a little better grounding in attacking Sotomayor’s gender without coming right out and saying it, so I expect we’ll see more of these arguments that she’s stupid that have no real evidence, but just rely on innuendo that feels true to the base, because they think that “stupid” and “woman/non-white person” are synonymous. Quoth Adam:

Sotomayor’s resume doesn’t just look good compared to Harriet Miers. Sotomayor has more than 10 years on the appeals court–by contrast, the current chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, had two years as a judge on the D.C. Circuit before being nominated. As a white man, however, his credentials and intelligence are beyond reproach.

Despite Republican threats to filibuster Sotomayor, I’m skeptical they can get all Senate Republicans on board with this, since some moderates have got to realize that Sotomayor’s as centrist as they’re going to get. So even if not all Democrats are in their proper seats by the time it comes to a vote, giving us the 60, I think we’ve got it. Republicans can try to kill this in committee, and I suspect that’s what they’ll try to do. Not because they object to Sotomayor so much as they need to take every opportunity possible to grandstand about how they don’t accept that Obama is President. Either way, if they try to kill or stall this appointment, it’s just going to draw out the period that Republicans can go on TV and continue to say blatantly racist things. I’m of two minds on this. On one hand, I appreciate that this is an opportunity for Republicans to out themselves as the party of bigots, and let the growing population of Hispanic voters know where Republicans stand on the topic of blatant, vicious racism against Hispanics. That said, when stuff gets racialized like this, it creates on the ground antagonism to rise, which isn’t good for anyone. The political gains from this have to be weighed against the real world animosity this sort of thing sows.

So let’s hope my instinct is right, and Republicans may actually let this one go.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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