Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

May 28, 2009

NO COMPARISON.... After noting some of the political complications associated with Republicans attacking the first Latina Supreme Court nominee, Time's Jay Newton-Small noted, "A GOP birdie reminds me that the Dems paid little heed to Hispanic voters when they filibustered Miguel Estrada's nomination to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, often seen as a stepping stone to the Supreme Court."

Apparently, this is going around. Karl Rove raised the same point in his Wall Street Journal column today.

The media has also quickly adopted the story line that Republicans will damage themselves with Hispanics if they oppose Ms. Sotomayor. But what damage did Democrats suffer when they viciously attacked Miguel Estrada's nomination by President George W. Bush to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation's second-highest court?

If this is going to continue to be a regular part of the Republican message, it's probably explaining why it's an absurd comparison (though it does point to one key larger truth).

First, as Newton-Small added, the political landscape has changed since Estrada's nomination was defeated in 2003, most notably after the fight over immigration reform.

Second, as Jon Chait explained, the two nominations are hardly identical: "[T]he GOP has a bad reputation among Hispanics and the Democrats don't, and the Supreme Court plays an ever-so-slightly larger role in the public imagination than the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals."

Third, Rove is making a foolish assumption, suggesting that Latino voters resent politicians who oppose Latino nominees. That's wrong. Rove may have forgotten, but the Democrats' position was bolstered by the fact that Estrada was opposed by Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, and the William C. Velasquez Institute.

But let's also take this opportunity to take a stroll down memory lane. I followed the Estrada nomination pretty closely six years ago, and it's worth reminding the political world of the shameless identity politics Republicans played at the time.

Trent Lott -- Trent Lott! -- said of Democrats, "They don't want Miguel Estrada because he's Hispanic." When Florida Sen. Bob Graham (D) voted against Estrada, none other than Rush Limbaugh ran a statement on his website with a headline that read, "Bob Graham's Crusade Against Hispanic Judges."

In 2003, a variety of Republicans argued that Democratic opposition to a Hispanic judicial nominee was necessarily evidence of Democratic racism. Now that conservatives are worked up over Sonia Sotomayor, I wonder whether Republicans are prepared to be held to the same standard.

Steve Benen 10:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (19)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

I'm surprised the comparison is made to Estrada rather than Alberto Gonzales. But in either case, it wasn't the Dems criticizing the ethnicity. If anything that was a mitigating factor. With Republicans, it's a primary focus.

Posted by: Danp on May 28, 2009 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

"I wonder whether Republicans are prepared to be held to the same [Republican} standard."

But they have no standard. You just showed that. That's why they are such slippery little rascals.


Posted by: Bob M on May 28, 2009 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Modern-day conservatives are craven power mongers who will say anything if they think it will move one person one step closer to their hidebound ideology. Then they will talk about that one anonymous person as if he or she represented the re-emergence of the GOP.

The GOP sees only as far as the latest conservative poll. But the world, not just the US, is changing rapidly, even as Rush packs on extra pounds over his tall stack of breakfast pancakes.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on May 28, 2009 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

A GOP birdie reminds me that...

Shorter Jay Newton-Small: Why, yes, I will glady be used as a channel for Republican talking points!

"Liberal media," my ass.

Posted by: Gregory on May 28, 2009 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

Why should the star of CHiPs be on the Supreme Court?

Posted by: Dennis-SGMM on May 28, 2009 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

"even as Rush packs on extra pounds over his tall stack of breakfast pancakes."

Y'know, I'm getting concerned about the health of El Rushbo. He's looking remarkably bloated and sweaty in his recent photos. He's got a sedentary job just sitting in that chair and bloviating, and I doubt that a few rounds of golf is sufficient to keep him in good shape, especially with the stogies he's always smoking. I'm afraid he's looking at a major health event in the next 16 months if he doesn't address his diet and exercise problems. We'd certainly hate to lose him since he's doing such a bang-up job for the GOP.

Posted by: bluestatedon on May 28, 2009 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Well, another little difference is that Democratic opposition to Estrda was explicitly and solely based on his political/judicial views (despite the transparent Rethug lies), while much of the hysterical winghut opposition to Sotomayor comes very close, to put it kindly, to criticizing her as a Hispanic. Affimative action hire, her privileged life growing up in a Bronx project, she pronounces her name in a manner foreign to Americans, she likes Puerto Rican food!. Some people just might take this a tad personally.

Posted by: Marlowe on May 28, 2009 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Conservatives live in a vacuum, and what they themselves have said in the past has disappeared in a black hole. In their world only now exists, and only the position promoted today is the principled one.

The permanent majority party has no real vision for the future, can't be held accountable for their past, and their present is devoid of participating in resolution and solutions.

These are the same people who think torture is okay despite history and law. Of course they are going to oppose putting a decent human being on the Supreme Court.

Posted by: jcricket on May 28, 2009 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Of course they are going to oppose putting a decent human being on the Supreme Court.

I should have added: And an eminently qualified one at that.

Posted by: jcricket on May 28, 2009 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised the comparison is made to Estrada rather than Alberto Gonzales.

Evidently even the GOP realizes that Gonzales doesn't have any credibility.

Besides, Gonzales probably doesn't even recall being nominated.

Posted by: Gregory on May 28, 2009 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

From the Wiki quoted supra, there is a disturbing note about someone from the staff of Senator Durbin expressing concerns about the RepuGs being able to capitalize politically by Estrada reaching the Supreme Court. However, as many Wiki postings need to be taken with a large dosage of grains of salt, might be smoke.

However, Estrada was far more qualified to become a Circuit Court Judge than Long Dong Silver was in being elevated to the Supremes. The Democrats had a legitimate case to defeat Thomas on his lack of merit. With Estrada, it was a stretch to say he wasn't qualified. Having seen many fine trial lawyers from, seemingly, lesser schools than Harvard defeat their Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher right wing opponents, nevertheless, GDandC does not hire attorneys of limited abilities. Doubt if they would have ever considered Thomas, prior to his Peter Principle elevation.

Posted by: berttheclock on May 28, 2009 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Let us just be honest about the whole SCOTUS thing. Neither side gives a damn about interpreting the law. Both the GOP and the Dems just want to put someone on the court who will legislate from the bench in a manner that supports their agendas. It's all a political game, and all of you know it. The childish cant that the Constitution can be "reinterpreted", rather than Amended, is just one example of how shamelessly both Parties use the Judicial Branch as a second Legislative one.

Posted by: whogivesadamn on May 28, 2009 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Karl Rove asks "But what damage did Democrats suffer when they viciously attacked Miguel Estrada's nomination by President George W. Bush"?

I seem to remember in 2004 the Republicans pushing the story line that they increased the percentage of Latino's voting for them. I don't remember if it ended up being true, but it was certainly one of their talking points.

Posted by: DR on May 28, 2009 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Basically, if you want to scare a Democrat, point out that someone is racist. If you want to scare a Republican, make an issue of someone's ethnicity.

Having a Latina SC nominee allows Republicans to show the duplicitous way they like to scare everyone. It also accentuates how ludicrously short their collective memory is.

Posted by: chrenson on May 28, 2009 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

is this the rush limbaugh link about bob grahams crusade?

http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/cold/graham_anti_hispanic.html

Posted by: yugan on May 28, 2009 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Conservatives are such frequent hypocrites and demagogues that quoting them from when the other ox was being gored, is a fruitful way to expose them.

Posted by: Neil B ♪ on May 28, 2009 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

With Estrada, it was a stretch to say he wasn't qualified.

The objection to Estrada was not some much his qualfications, but his disqualifications--his history of dubious rightwingnut activism. No veteran of the Arkansas Project, or Ken Star's impeachment campaign, ought to be a judge of the Court of Apeals.

Posted by: rea on May 28, 2009 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

That's pretty funny. If Rove is arguing that opposing Estrada cost the Democrats some support among Latinos, is he next going to argue that the ongoing ridicule of Michael Steele is hurting the Democrats among African Americans? Or has he already said that? Does he even bother to personally write his columns? Or does he just use a computer program that inserts the day's talking points into the same old bullshit?

Posted by: Stephen Stralka on May 28, 2009 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly