Sotomayor Nomination Splitting Activists and Establishment Conservatives

by Brien Jackson

I’d certainly have to say that the most interesting deveopment of the past few days was Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), currently chairing the NRSC, telling NPR that Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich calling Sonia Sotomayor a racist was “terrible.” That marks the first time a high profile, demonstratablu conservative Republican has criticized either since Obama took office, so far as I’m aware.

Digby thinks this is just so much kabuki, but as I said in comments, a wider reading doesn’t really seem to support that. For one thing, Cornyn’s job is to win elections for Senate Republicans, a role that requires him to be somewhat more in touch with electoral reality than your average wingnut. That’s not to say Cornyn isn’t as bad as anyone from a policy standpoint, but he does realize that it’s going to be very hard for Republicans to regain majority status if they drive their support amongst Latino voters down to the levels they get from African-Americans. And given that he comes from a state with a hefty Hispanic population himself, there might even be a bit of self-preservation going on. Cornyn also pissed of the Redstaters by endorsing Charlie Crist in Florida, and offering to go to bat for Arlen Specter in a Republican primary, until Arlen switched parties. So he’s showing some inclination to sleight the base when it’s obviously better for the GOP’s electral prospects. And he’s pronouncing her name correctly.

On the other hand, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is still articulating the rationale for a filibuster of Sotomayor, which makes no sense. Ultimately, Republicans just aren’t going to have the votes to filibuster an obviously qualified nominee, which means that they’re going to look foolish for even talking about it, and alienate Latino voters for nothing. But then, no one ever accused them of being rational did they?