Republicans Should Pass on Sotomayor Showdown



"Hewho knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious." Sun Tzu

As the confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor begin Monday, Americans on both sides of the aisle are eager to see how Republicans will treat President Obama's first Supreme Court nominee.

Folks on the right are wondering if the GOP will show any backbone and give Sotomayor the type of grilling former President Bush's picks received from Democrats, or continue with the courteous and respectful treatment they accorded former President Clinton's appointees the previous decade.

Those on the left, likely caring far less about the judge's qualifications than her gender and ethnicity -- as well as wanting another win for Obama, of course(!) -- are getting ready to toss out the race and sex card at the slightest provocation.

To be sure, the baggage associated with Sotomayor's deplorable comments about Latina women making better judgments than white men, and the recent Supreme Court decision concerning the New Haven firefighters, give Republicans ammunition if they choose to oppose the judge.

However, now that comedian Al Franken has been officially seated in the Senate, why should the GOP start a fight it can't win? After all, it seems a metaphysical certitude Sotomayor is going to be confirmed.

With this in mind, Republicans shouldn't waste a penny of their dwindling political capital on this battle.

Given the media's affection for the judge, let alone for Obama, any contest mounted will be reported as purely sexist and racist irrespective of the grounds. From a public opinion perspective, fighting this nomination is a lose-lose situation

By contrast, given Obama's declining poll numbers, and the appearance that the public is growing weary of all this spending and debt creation as unemployment continues to rise, an unexpectedly peaceful confirmation process could be a win-win for the right.

When one considers the recent data finding a growing conservative shift in the nation, in particular on key issues such as abortion and gun rights, it seems clear that with the pendulum possibly having reversed direction, what Republicans don't need is a highly-publicized battle over a female minority member, especially given the poor odds of success.

Factor in Democratic Party and media depictions of the GOP as the Party of "No," and a smooth confirmation process this week - lacking any of the expected confrontation members of the press live for- could be quite disarming to the left as well as dispel the myth Republicans are just acting as minority obstructionists.

With the American Clean Energy and Security Act aka cap and tax! moving to the Senate, and a health care battle looming, the GOP needs to focus its attention on these disgusting initiatives that will cost the nation dearly for decades to come if implemented, and do so with as much public support as possible.

Since a victorious Sotomayor likely won't vote much differently than her predecessor -- or virtually anyone Obama would nominate for that matter! -- conservatives aren't going to lose much with her on the bench despite her shortcomings.

But, if a failed attempt to block her somehow halted the pendulum's apparent rightward shift, and therefore increased public support for cap and tax and healthcare, Republicans would have made a horrible strategic decision we'll all regret for a very, very long time.

Since David Souter is likely just the first of several Supreme Court retirements Obama will have to deal with -- either John Paul Stevens or Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be next -- it seems wiser for the GOP to currently focus their munitions on what's going on in Congress, and keep their powder dry for the next judiciary incursion.

As Sun Tzu wrote, "He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared."

Noel Sheppard is Associate Editor of the MediaResearchCenter's NewsBusters.org. He welcomes feedback at nsheppard@newsbusters.org

Noel Sheppard is associate editor of the Media Research Center's NewsBusters.org. He welcomes feedback at NewsBustersNoel@gmail.com.