"Latinos? We Don't Need no Steenkin' Latinos!"
In the caves of West Virginia, Senator Jeff Sessions (center) discusses with Orrin Hatch and Tom Coburn the GOP's chances of a comeback in 2012.
Sonia Sotomayor was just named the Supreme Court's 111th justice by a vote of 68-31. Every Nay, typically and as expected, was cast by a Republican.
In doing so, just over 75% of the Senate's Republican presence, such as it is, said in no uncertain terms, despite well-meaning advice from Democrats and their own moderates, "Latino voters? We doan need no steenkin' Latino voters!" After all, it's not as if the Rush Limbaugh Electrolux wing of the Republican party is a regional party shamelessly excommunicated south of the Mason-Dixon line and about to be embarrassed in the 2010 midterms by Ralph Nader and maybe even the Save the Tse Tse Fly Party. Sure, they have votes to burn.
All but nine Republican senators proved two things during the Sotomayor confirmation hearings, committee vote and the up and down vote: That they're every bit the racist assholes we've always known they are and that they're too stupid to even try to hide it in the name of political expediency and survival.
#2, they proved beyond all doubt that superceding even the Old White Boy Network's aforementiioned racism and fear of anything that's darker than mayonnaise and Wonder Bread is partisan politics. It was barely four and a half years ago when a much different and momentarily racially tolerant Republican Party embraced a torture-loving Latino named Alberto Gonzales when he sat before this very same committee. By this time, Gonzales was the already-notorious White House counsel who'd signed off on an infamous torture memo and called the Geneva Convention a "quaint" document that was nonetheless no longer relevant in this new war on terror.
We were supposed to love Gonzo because he climbed up from poverty and made something of himself, someone who deserved to walk shoulder to shoulder with rich powerful white people and anyone who opposed Gonzo's nomination even on the grounds of his Torquemada memos was a racist.
And back in 2003, George W. Bush lambasted the 45 Senate Democrats who'd voted against Miguel Estrada and blocked his nomination with no less than seven filibusters, calling the Democrats' rare stand against his judicial nominees, "disgraceful treatment."
But what the Democrats did wasn't racist at all: They simply refused to elevate Estrada to the DC Court of Appeals because he was a right wing idiot and an amateur. The memo that Republican Bushbots kept waving around that purported to say Estrada's nomination was blocked because he was a Latino was fabricated by Karl Rove and was never even alleged to have been written by Sen. Dick Durbin or any other Democratic senator but an aide. And, as stated, it was fabricated.
Republicans accusing Democrats of being racist is so audaciously ironic that it's not even worth a bitter chuckle. This time around, the GOP Senate wasn't even trying to put their best cloven hoof forward, with Tom Coburn, the only Senator who flatly refused to meet with Judge Sotomayor, doing a Ricky Ricardo impression during her confirmation. Jeff Sessions led the Republican charge by grilling her about her "wise Latina" comment that had nothing to do with her 3000 rulings, as if drawing from any racial experience but a Caucasian one should eliminate anyone from one of the most powerful positions in the land.
The Republicans didn't disappoint anyone during this Sotomayor fiasco that wasn't so much of a fiasco as it was a tempest in a moonshine still, a last gasp of the old Republican Guard that's virtually quarantined in the Deep South. This is what we'd expected of all but nine Republican senators who were wise enough and self-serving enough to signal their bipartisan intentions in advance of the up and down vote.
If any one issue or incident will further shrink the GOP's presence in the higher chamber, this will do it. From now on, I think it's safe to call the Republican Party the "Under 40 Crowd."