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Tilting at Windmills

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May 29, 2009

THE RIGHT RESPONSE.... The Politico had an odd item late yesterday, arguing that with so many unhinged conservatives accusing Sonia Sotomayor of "racism," it's incumbent on the White House to address the issue.

"Some Democrats and political analysts are urging the White House to shift course and concede that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor made an error when she suggested in 2001 that Hispanic women would make better judges than white men," Josh Gerstein reported, before quoting Lanny Davis and Chris Lehane.

But she didn't "suggest" Hispanic women would make better judges than white men. An honest reading of the 2001 speech in question makes this clear (even to conservatives who are disinclined to support her nomination). She explained, quite clearly, that one's background and experiences can help shape a judge's perspective, but added that he or she must remain cognizant of that to prevent biases from dictating outcomes. Indeed, her detractors have it backwards -- Sotomayor said in the same speech she's committed to "complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives."

In reality, it's not the White House that needs to respond to bogus Republican accusations of "racism," it's GOP leaders who need to weigh in. Yesterday, that's exactly what happened.

A top Senate Republican is taking aim at recent statements from conservative commentators Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich suggesting Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is a "racist."

"I think it's terrible," Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told NPR's "All Things Considered" Thursday. "This is not the kind of tone any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advise and consent." [...]

"Neither one of these men [Gingrich and Limbaugh] are elected Republican officials. I just don't think it's appropriate. I certainly don't endorse it. I think it's wrong," he said.

Good call. Cornyn no doubt realizes the damage -- short and long term -- that Republican leaders like Gingrich and Limbaugh are doing to their party, and it makes sense to have a top GOP official like Cornyn disavowing their offensive attacks.

It's what makes the Politico article all the more mistaken. When prominent Republican voices launch ridiculous attacks, it's not up to the White House to lend the criticism credibility; it's up to the GOP to disassociate itself from the nonsense.

And better yet, it's up to political reporters at major outlets to explain to the public why the attacks are false. I can't help but notice that isn't happening much.

Steve Benen 8:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (45)

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Comments

So, no mention in the post of when Cornyn will be forced to apologize to Limbaugh as so many have done when they dared to imply criticism of--or outright criticize--their most spotlighted mouthpiece? Surely Cornyn will quickly 'rephrase' his earlier comments as 'taken out of context,' etc.

But good on him for saying this. I admit Cornyn would be one of the last Republican's I'd expect to step up.

Posted by: terraformer on May 29, 2009 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

And better yet, it's up to political reporters at major outlets to explain to the public why the attacks are false. I can't help but notice that isn't happening much.

Well, that wouldn't be objective. The only way the media can be objective is to do he said/she said reporting, and leave it up to us to decide who's lying. Even when it's obvious who isn't telling telling the truth. Anything beyond this would leave them open to charges of liberal bias, which they will be accused of anyway.

Posted by: Jennifer on May 29, 2009 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

To the extent that Cornyn and other Republican senators have formulated a strategy to be "reasonable" on this appointment, it's geared to the future, when Obama is trying to replace Kennedy or one of the other conservatives. At that point, Cornyn can reject the new nominee while saying something along the line of : "See, I don't automatically reject Democrdatic appointees, I was perfectly civilized regarding Sottomayor, but THIS one is beyond the pale." Today's wingnuts help to provide cover for the "sensible" Senators.

Posted by: S. Rubin on May 29, 2009 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Lanny Davis is a headline attention grabbing idiot who will say anything to hear his name on television. I don't know much about the other alleged Democratic leader so I will simply assume he is another hack like Davis. If I am wrong correct me.

I listened to the speech. There isn't anything in it that should lead anybody to think Sotomayor is a racist. Maybe next time Davis will do the same. He won't because that would be the responsible thing a Democratic leader (as opposed to a hack) would do. Lanny are you listening. We have all had enough of your performance art. Go away.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 29, 2009 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Must stay tuned to C-Span - Will the retraction take place on the Senate floor or in the rotunda?

Posted by: berttheclock on May 29, 2009 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

She explained, quite clearly, that one's background and experiences can help shape a judge's perspective

The problem with her 2001 speech is that she insinuates that every white man has the same background and experience. That sounds pretty racist to me, especially if a white man had said that about a Hispanic or black person.

Posted by: Jake on May 29, 2009 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

But good on him for saying this. I admit Cornyn would be one of the last Republican's I'd expect to step up.

Um, Cornyn's saying this to save his own Senate seat. Self-preservation occasionally demands such things.

Posted by: TonyB on May 29, 2009 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

I attempted to traverse the Politico piece, but failed as I found the intellectual landscape a bit too mushy and dangerous - kinda like the bogs of merry Ol' Scotland! Remember Hume's dilemma. -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on May 29, 2009 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

Cornyn, alas, will be a lone voice. Everyone who is anyone in the most visible right-wing circles has jumped on the racist bus. Tancredo's outburst on CNN (in which he barely restrained himself from hurling racial epithets), along with Rush's bloviating and Rove's tantrums and Coulter's screeds are THE face of the Republican movement--so all the general public will see are those faces spouting bigotry.

Posted by: Domage on May 29, 2009 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

Well confirmed about the inept hacks in Shrub's administration, but, during the Clinton years did they have pickup basketball games during breaks between the Epts and the Hacks? George S at ABC and Davis must have starred for the Hacks.

Posted by: berttheclock on May 29, 2009 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

Cue Cornyn apology to Commandant Limbaugh in 3...2...1...

Posted by: Stetson Kennedy on May 29, 2009 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

What I found interesting in the Politico piece, which was otherwise just GOP talking points badly repeated, was Chris Lehane and Lanny Davis supporting this stupid line of reasoning. Sad when supposed Democrats can't see the idiocy and then take part in it....

Posted by: chuck dc on May 29, 2009 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

Stupid lines of reasoning are Lanny Davis' forte.

Let us not forget, he's the one who argued that Hillary Clinton should be given all the votes she "won" in two primaries that she agreed in advance wouldn't count, and that to do otherwise would spell electoral defeat for the Democrats.

Posted by: Jennifer on May 29, 2009 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

The problem with her 2001 speech is that she insinuates that every white man has the same background and experience.

No, you insinuate it. Nobody with reading comprehension skills does.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on May 29, 2009 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

Jake: "The problem with her 2001 speech is that she insinuates that every white man has the same background and experience. "

Bullshit.

The point of this speech is that there is no monolithic opinion based on gender or color, that life experiences color and in someways improve our perceptions and that the aspiration of impartiality is, after all, aspiration and not a done deal.

Posted by: Jeff In Ohio on May 29, 2009 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

What SHOULD happen and what will when reacting to Limbaugh are two different animals. Sure, Limbaugh is an unhinged, reprehensible crackpot. Yet Republican officeholders compete to touch the hem of his gown, groveling for attention. The White House will also eventually bend to his will. Their prostration and eventual apologizing won't be performed in front of the curtains but they will succumb. Too many voters lap up the fear and hate Limbaugh dishes out for the White House to ignore. You need both the sane and insane to stay in office and grow your majority. Seeing as there are millions falling into the insane category and Limbaugh is their leader Obama will have to placate him. Their are three unavoidable fates we all deal with and fall victim to in our lives: Death, Taxes & Limbaugh.

Posted by: steve duncan on May 29, 2009 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

My Governator ain't apologizing!

Rush is not exactly an 800lb gorilla...

I fucking love you Arnold!

Posted by: MissMudd on May 29, 2009 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Har! Here's the linkage:
Arnold's crack.

Posted by: MissMudd on May 29, 2009 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

Seeing as there are millions falling into the insane category and Limbaugh is their leader Obama will have to placate him.

A March McClatchy-Ipsos found 30 percent of Americans with favorable opinions of Limbaugh, and 46 percent with unfavorable opinions. A solid 33 percent of all Americans have "very unfavorable" opinions of the talk show host. Obama's numbers in that same poll: 65 positive, 29 negative.

I think we can take them.

Posted by: shortstop on May 29, 2009 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

An honest reading of the 2001 speech in question makes this clear

There's your problem right there. Movement conservatives have no compunctions in using dishonesty to sell their agenda. (Indeed, considering their agenda, they have little choice.)

And why not? They know they can lie to the so-called "liberal media," and the so-called "liberal media" will let them get away with it.

My crusty high school journalism teacher told his class that when your source lies to you, that's your story. Although I admit that these days "Republicans lie again" is a dog-bites-man story.

Posted by: Gregory on May 29, 2009 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

As Politico is an appendage of the rethug party, there is no reason for them to explain why the attacks are false. It is their job to provide an echo chamber and amplifier for the rethug party and their leaders - Newt, Rushbo, and Sean.

Posted by: AngryOldVet on May 29, 2009 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

We should be nervous any time Cornyn is the voice of reason...

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on May 29, 2009 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

The only way the media can be objective is to do he said/she said reporting, and leave it up to us to decide who's lying.

Ahhh.....cueing Chuck Todd. Will Chuck Todd please report to the Today Show.

Posted by: oh well on May 29, 2009 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen quoted:

"I think it's terrible," Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told NPR's "All Things Considered" Thursday.

See, this is a perfect example of how the corporate-owned so-called "right wing" media, and the corporate-owned so-called "mainstream" media, and the corporate-funded so-called "public" so-called "liberal" media, all work in close coordination to propagandize the American people.

For the hard-core Ditto-Head Republican "base", the corporate propaganda machine has Fox News and Clear Channel, and Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich to screech hatefully about the "racist brown woman".

And for the "moderate" suburban "liberals", the corporate propaganda machine has NPR to present Cornyn as the voice of "moderation".

But the consistent focus of NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered is the same as that of Fox News and CNN and Rush Limbaugh and The Washington Post: it's all about what the Republicans -- who are still, after all, the front party for Big Business -- have to say about everything.

NPR and Fox News are the corporate-owned media's version of "good cop & bad cop".

Posted by: SecularAnimist on May 29, 2009 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

NPR and Fox News are the corporate-owned media's version of "good cop & bad cop".

Good call.

Posted by: about time on May 29, 2009 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

What I found interesting in the Politico piece, which was otherwise just GOP talking points badly repeated, was Chris Lehane and Lanny Davis supporting this stupid line of reasoning. Sad when supposed Democrats can't see the idiocy and then take part in it....

Lehane may surprise me, although just a bit, but Lanny Davis has been Sean Hannity's foil for years. He's given Hannity the cover to say, "Hey, I interviews dems, too!", but really, all he has done is try to make the democratic party GOP-Lite.

Posted by: Stetson Kennedy on May 29, 2009 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

"good cop vs. bad cop" - Using Cornyn as the "voice of moderation and reason" is not much different from Frank Luntz using "reform" to frame the healthcare argument or the right using "color-blind" society and "all men are created equal" to destroy affirmative action programs.

Posted by: berttheclock on May 29, 2009 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

The things they are throwing to smear the nominee are all the same things they used to praise far right nominees, Alito's ethnic background, I think it was Thomas that was praised for empathy & so on.
there was another one about making law from the bench. So it looks like there will be three right wing members of the supreme court that they have to call to resign for past statements.

Posted by: JS on May 29, 2009 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

"The problem with her 2001 speech is that she insinuates that every white man has the same background and experience."

Actually, no, she insinuates no such thing. You're just reading that into her speech due to your own biases.

Posted by: Shade Tail on May 29, 2009 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

You're just reading that into her speech due to your own biases.

Or, more likely, is merely parroting the bullshit right-wing propaganda he heard on Rush or Faux News.

Posted by: Gregory on May 29, 2009 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Somehow, Politico emerged from the primordial stew fully formed and possessing complete credibility. It wasn't there and then it was and without a lot of justification, it just sqwushed it's ass in the mix and became another loud noise signifying nothing.

Politico gets more attention than it deserves.

Posted by: burro on May 29, 2009 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Great that Cornyn has said this. Even if he wished he'd not been put in this position. But let's remind ourselves of his motivations here — he's from Texas. The GOP has strained itself and made headway for a while with Mexican Americans. This kind of mindless race bashing and baiting has to set back these efforts. Perry has a tough election coming up. If the reaction is to come out in force against the GOP, it spells trouble in the Lone Star State.

Posted by: curious sampler on May 29, 2009 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

The Sotomayor quote starts with "I would hope that..." and the poo-flingers take the rest of the statement as what she believes is actually the case.
"I would hope that the the painters will have finished before the moving van gets there" does NOT express confidence that they will.
To say later, "Why were you so sure they would be finished???" would be grounds for a punch in the snoot.
The same with these guys.

Posted by: pbg on May 29, 2009 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

"Or, more likely, is merely parroting the bullshit right-wing propaganda he heard on Rush or Faux News."

With these borg-assimilated right wingers, it comes to the same thing.

Posted by: Shade Tail on May 29, 2009 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

But she didn't "suggest" Hispanic women would make better judges than white men.

No, she flat out made the statement. I note that the above post does not include her exact quote, for obvious reasons. There is no possible way for context to make it any prettier.

Posted by: Luther on May 29, 2009 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

it's up to political reporters at major outlets to explain to the public why the attacks are false

See, here's your problem. You misunderstand Politico's mission. Politico is not a major outlet. They're just a collection of Internet GOP hacks, whose job is not to spread bogus memes, but to launch them. Major outlets like Fox News, WSJ, WaPo, etc., have the reach Politico doesn't, and they spread the memes far and wide.

So don't expect an apology from Politico "reporters." They're too busy patting themselves on the back.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on May 29, 2009 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

The funny thing is, the rhetoric from Limbaugh, Gingrinch, Tancredo and the like is actually making MORE likely that Sotomayor will have an easy time in the Senate. One can see the outright terror on the faces of Republican Senators (especially those in states with growing latino populations) of what could happen if Sotomayor is attacked during her confimation hearings. They will end up voting for her just to distance themselves from Limbaugh et al.

Posted by: thorin-1 on May 29, 2009 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

"No, she flat out made the statement."

And you're flat-out lying.

"I note that the above post does not include her exact quote, for obvious reasons. There is no possible way for context to make it any prettier."

Oh really? Then why didn't *you* include the exact quote, with the context that you claim doesn't improve it?

Posted by: Shade Tail on May 29, 2009 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

That's exactly what she said. She's a racist. She's sexist.

Glad she could pigeonhole all white men into one experience, which obviously isn't rich or making the white man wise.

Posted by: Jake on May 29, 2009 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Cornyn is not the voice of reason and probably isn't worried about his seat. He is worried that his current role as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee is going to be graded 'massive, epic, fail' come the 2010 elections. It is a massive uphill climb to start with and any chances of picking off Harry Reid diminish every second Rush and Tancredo screech 'La Raza'.

(BTW I used to belong to the Sons of Norway. And around the bar at our local lodge we used to tell Swedish jokes. Which I guess by Republican logic made us raging bigoted racists.)

Posted by: Bruce Webb on May 29, 2009 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

It's not really a surprise that Clinton-era consultants like Davis and Lehane would react with a defensive crouch in response to a Republican smear campaign.

Posted by: Col Bat Guano on May 29, 2009 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Nice to see Operation Politico, the right wing disinformation campaign, running in high gear:

"Some Democrats and political analysts are urging the White House to shift course and concede that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor made an error when she suggested in 2001 that Hispanic women would make better judges than white men," Josh Gerstein reported, before quoting Lanny Davis and Chris Lehane.

Lanny Davis and Chris Lehane aren't Democrats. Dimocraps, yes; Democrats, no.

Posted by: TCinLA on May 29, 2009 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

What MissMudd was talking about regarding Ahhhnuld:

Schwarzenegger Makes A Crack About Limbaugh's Weight

Appearing on CNN today, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was asked what has become a popular question, and a Democratic talking point, about his party: is Rush Limbaugh your leader?

Schwarzenegger, a former Mr. Universe and a moderate, responded thusly: "I think that they say that Rush Limbaugh is the 800 lb. gorilla in the Republican Party, but I think that's mean spirited to say that because I think he's down to 650 lbs., so I think one should be fair to him about this whole thing."


Posted by: TCinLA on May 29, 2009 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

"That's exactly what she said."

That's *a tiny part* of what she said. Put it back into the context of her full speech, if you have the stones to be honest about it.

Posted by: Shade Tail on May 29, 2009 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

omg-she's a racist! omg--she's a bigot! omg--she's an alien--omg--she's unamerican--omg--she's loves Puerto Rican food--omg--she pronounces her name funny--omg--how will she vote Roe v.Wade--omg--she says she better than a white man--omg--she is not intelligent. Anything said on the tee vee must be right, you know, like that rich guy Rushrush who lives in West Palm Beach -- you know, where Madoff lived--he really knows the facts. He makes them up all the time.

Maybe if someone actually knew what they were talking about on the tee vee, like having read Sonia Sotomayor's rulings, and even having gone so far as to have read her entire speeches, not just material dug out to make a point, we would not be subjected to ricochetting from one rumor, innuendo, "did you hear that--" to another before the woman ever opens her mouth to answer a question.

It is most unfortunate that we are saddled at a critical crossroad in our history with broadcast journalists who are unable to present factual information, in-depth information on the complex issues before the public or even know who can provide them with such. So we are filled daily 24/7 with misinformation, lies, opinions, hateful ideology, led and perpetuated by masters of manipulation, the court jesters. It is called Character Assassination

Posted by: Eleanor on May 29, 2009 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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