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Sotomayor

sounds furrin', don't it?

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, May 27, 2009.

President Obama has nominated, more or less as predicted, a Latina for the Supreme Court. Sonia Sotomayor is about as competent and vastly experienced as a judge can get, vastly more so in fact than any of the other current Justices when they were nominated. Way smart, she’s seemingly happy to be a judge, she’s vastly accomplished with a substantial paper trail that anyone can follow. She will be terrific.

She was initially singled out for advancement by the first President Bush. She will be the sixth Roman Catholic on the court, along with two Jews, and one Protestant, religious criteria that makes almost nobody care these days. Isn’t that amazing? In my lifetime, we were once afraid that a Catholic President, Kennedy by name, would take orders from the Vatican. Seriously. Now, our Constitution and interpretation of law has been handed over to an institution with a majority of Catholics and few can stifle the yawn of terror. In combination with an African American president, obviously the nation is doomed, and hell is upon us, and what is the vitriolic Christian Community – by which is meant the real, Protestant God lovers - to do? Oh………dear.

Morbidly obese Chickenhawk and drug addict Rush Limbaugh, who has been reduced to wearing all black tents with notional pockets as clothing when in public, along with the others of that ilk, trot out the weakest objections possible. Not for any actual concern about competence or radicalism, but because they cannot stand another Obama victory lap. No doubt they are, as we speak, rifling through the nominee’s household records to see if she employed illegal immigrants, perhaps from Denmark, or – better! – reveals she is gay. Something. Anything to demonstrate to their bitter and generally unproductive political base that they have its back.

One tack has been to make fun of Obama’s hope his nominee would have empathy for the folks in the real world, something that so many Republicans never had, or could fake anymore than the first President Bush could convince anyone he liked pork rind. With their usual ignorance, those who hoped to make the word ‘empathy’ the issue, because it could be contorted as effeminate and blended in to the claims of the idiots who think Oprah Winfrey is really the boss, have run across the praise that very same President George H.W. Bush gave that lovable scamp he proposed for the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas. "He is a delightful and warm, intelligent person who has great empathy and a wonderful sense of humor." Empathy didn’t disturb them for Thomas.

While only about 20% of the nation considers itself Republican, today, it’s worse when you realize nearly all are from the South. The GOP is a regional party because, frankly, it is a party of bigots and posturing idiots, Chickenhawks and grotesque, cowardly hypocrites. If Joe Scarborough ever honors his pledge to be waterboarded, as he announced on his TV show, I may alter that. Till then, no.

The Republicans cannot afford to offend – well, anyone – but especially not an entire gender or the huge Hispanic vote, so they are periodically huddling to try out different themes. Sotomayor is of Puerto Rican descent and raised in the Bronx, which in my lifetime was once a social death sentence. Puerto Ricans tried to kill President Truman, and they were loud and scary to Anglo New Yorkers, and this is one of the missing understandings necessary for revivals of West Side Story. Puerto Ricans were near Mau Mau in fright level to the public mind.

I wonder how many resonate to her story, and to her remarkable mother working two jobs to put her implausibly brilliant daughter through our best schools. I wonder how many non-Hispanics resonate to her tale of accomplishment far above their own, because she reminds them of people they knew throughout their lives who just had the glow of success from the get go and whose success does not threaten them, but makes things so much better. I wonder, these days, if positioning this woman as a member of a dangerous minority or a judicial radical, themes the GOP is developing, has any traction at all among those with three digits of IQ? Few, I’d bet. Statistically none, maybe.

There’s a good chance, statistically, that Obama may get to appoint four Justices to the Court in two terms, the most ever for one President. One will be Justice Ruth Ginzberg, aging and with cancer. The oldest member of the court, Justice John Paul Stevens will surely retire, and it is unlikely an obese man in his 70’s like Antonin Scalia will last eight more years. Until he goes, if he goes, Obama will be only replacing left of centers with more of the same. If Scalia goes, or Thomas goes, there will be serious change. Not until.

But Sotomayor is a pretty big deal. Good for her, lucky for us.