Sotomayor Hearings a Party Platform?

sotomayorandlatinosFitzsimmons/The Arkansas Daily

A lot of us reviewing the Sotomayor confirmation hearins, myself included, have focused on the overt race-baiting of the Republicans and their clear lack of EMPATHY for issues and realities of people of color and women. We have wondered outloud about the Republican agenda, their meltdowns, and their attacks. In so doing, we have all come away with a clear understanding that Republicans really do view themselves as the victims of “reverse discrimination” and the nation on the brink of disaster due to “unfair” affirmative-action. And for those on the fence as to whether this was the floundering of a few offensive Senators or the standard-operating-procedure of the Republican Party, Pat Buchanan spelled it out in an op-ed piece where he blames the presidential election loss and the potential loss of this seat on the Supreme Court on the failure to race-bait and encourages Republicans to congeal around this issue.

But, as no Republican who followed the script of the mainstream media ever won a national election, why should the party pay them mind?

The imperative of the GOP is not to appease a city that went 93-7 for Obama, but to win back its lost voters.

. . .

If John McCain, instead of getting 55 percent of the white vote, got the 58 percent George W. Bush got in 2004 . . .

. . .

These are the folks whose jobs have been outsourced to China and Asia, who pay the price of affirmative action when their sons and daughters are pushed aside to make room for the Sonia Sotomayors.

(“How to Handle Sonia.”)

Note he can’t even refer to her last name or her title in this piece b/c he really does think of her as some unqualified bastard child the same way that racists refer to black men as “boy.” The reasoning behind consistent failure of the Republicans to acknowledge her intellectual and judicial accomplishments, even while some pay lip service to them before attacking her as a “race woman” or “wise Latina”, has now been spelled out for all of us. And if Buchanan is right, that means the Republicans have successfully used the hearings to outline their platform to N. America.

Sotomayor-AppointmentMatson/St.Louis Post

Yet, those of us so enthralled with deconstructing the Republican agenda have not done the same work on the Democratic one and what is being articulated or not in these hearings by them.  The most reflection on any single Democrat I’ve seen so far was on Al Franken, who many thought wasted his time with the Judge, but in fact, did extremely astute things:

  1. used his time to ensure that the official record of her hearings included positive quotes about her record and not just the negative quotes that Sen Graham ensured were entered yesterday
  2. showed the N. American ppl that unlike Republican Senators, at least one Democrat was not interested in wasting tax payer money and critical government time on repetitive ideological arguments. (ever heard the phrase “asked and answered” before Republicans?)

His strategic moves are some thing that the only major essay to questions the Democrats’ participation in this hearing has asked from all the Democrats, ie outline an agenda as strongly as the Republicans, and like them, use it to the party’s advantage. Their failure to do so, not only made Al Franken seem like a newbie (which he is) but also, according to Rabbi Michael Lerner’s piece quoted below, is failing to persuade voters on what Dems stand for and why independents should vote them again.

The Senate Judiciary hearings could provide an opportunity for liberals to present their worldview to the millions of Americans listening in. But once again, they are showing that they have no such worldview except the worldview of not having a worldview!  It’s a stark contrast to the Republicans who unashamedly are asking Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor to swear loyalty to their perspectives on major political issues facing the court.

Yes, I know that the candidate has to pretend to think and act like a white upper-class man to get confirmation to the bench, and to have no political views shaping her judicial perspective.

But Democratic Senators could use their time to ask questions and make statements that explain why a liberal or progressive worldview is precisely what is needed on the Supreme Court.

You can and should read the rest of the piece here. It made me think about what we are not doing well  as much as thinking we have already been doing about what the Republicans are willing to publicly stand for and how it will or will not fly with voters.


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