I don't know why I'm surprised by this freak-out on the right over the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, but I am. The right wing had to have a fight to feed their starving base, and they oppose Democrats for the same reason George Leigh Mallory wanted to climb Mount Everest: "Because it's there." They don't believe that a Democratic President could possibly be legitimate, and therefore he doesn't have the legitimate right to nominate judges for the nation's highest court. QED.
But despite having advance knowledge of Sotomayor's potential nomination for a month, they have not been able to suffuse their objections to Sotomayor with anything but racial and identity politics. Michael Goldfarb says Obama has the "views of a 21 year-old Hispanic girl. Mark Krikorian simmers over the pronunciation of Sotomayor's NAME. Sen. Inhofe worries about "undue influence from her race and gender." The leader of the Republican Party called her a "reverse racist".
Look, I'm not going to tell Republicans they need to watch their opposition to a Latina woman solely because of her race and gender. They haven't asked for my help. I'd rather simply say that, when a party has no leadership, this kind of insanity can reign. The contradictions at work - conservatives touting Clarence Thomas' "empathy", the identity politics conservatives praised with the nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor, the obvious disparity of conservatives demonizing empathy in the law while damning the "unfairness" of the Ricci decision to white firefighters - are just too obvious to count, as are the political sensitivities. But nobody has the controls of the Party, and nobody can douse these flames.
There's another theory on this, however. Conservatives have used racial coding for decades, and it's a well to which they have often gone over the years. But you know, we're in something of a new era when it comes to that. After all, take a look at the President.
Meanwhile, inside the Senate, there's no appetite for a filibuster, and Jeff Sessions even screwed up the only talking point that fell outside of the race/gender lines by saying that courts, in fact, do make laws. I plan to bring that little nugget out every time I hear about those "activist judges."
Dave Weigel: "Sotomayor's nomination will come crashing down when Larry Johnson releases the tape of her railing against whitey."
...and now Newt Gingrich calls her a racist. They really can't help themselves.