Smearing Sotomayor

Elected Republicans are being cautious, but Rush, Newt and Coulter are swinging wildly, and hurting the party.

Published May 29, 2009 3:28AM (EDT)

Newt Gingrich must have a new ghost-Twitterer! My daughter caught him, typos and all, Twittering about his April visit to Fordham University last month:

On the way to new yotk to talk tonight at the fordham university bronx campis tonight for a speech on 2 plus 2 equals 4.

Wednesday his Tweets were all properly spelled, despite some capitalization issues, but nonetheless much more stupid: Gingrich used Twitter to call Judge Sonia Sotomayor a "racist" and to urge her to "withdraw" from consideration for the Supreme Court. Oh, that new media Newt! Here's what he said:

White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw.

32 minutes ago from TwitterBerry

Imagine a judicial nominee said "my experience as a white man makes me better than a latina woman" new racism is no better than old racism

42 minutes ago from TwitterBerry

Kos joked a few weeks ago that "RNC" now stands for Rush, Newt and Cheney, but you could also make that Rush, Newt and Ann Coulter, and that unholy trinity weighed in unanimously on Wednesday to label Sotomayor a "racist." On "Good Morning America," Coulter said, "It does a disservice to minorities -- to women and minorities -- that we are supposed to be empathizing for ... Saying that someone would decide a case differently ... because she's a Latina, not a white male, that statement by definition is racist." And of course Rush has called Sotomayor racist repeatedly since her nomination Tuesday morning.

The Republican Party really is in a jam: To their credit, the party's elected leaders are mostly trying to sound reasonable notes about Sotomayor, who is in fact supremely qualified, and much more moderate than they might have expected for Obama's first appointment. As Slate's great Dahlia Lithwick told Rachel Maddow Tuesday night: "I think that if you look at her record -- and I've spent the day doing it -- she's pretty text based ... I mean, she is not the liberals' answer to Scalia or John Roberts. She is very, very much a moderate, temperate, minimalist, careful liberal." I tried to say something similar to Pat Buchanan on "Hardball" earlier that day.

But while Republicans who actually have to get elected are being fairly cautious in their reactions to Sotomayor, their unelected and unelectable stormtroopers are leading a public crusade against the well-qualified working-class daughter of the Bronx. Karl Rove likewise weighed in for good measure, ridiculing Sotomayor by saying, "I know lots of stupid people who went to Ivy League schools." Well, we know he knows at least one: His famous boss was a legacy admit to both Harvard and Yale -- but unlike Sotomayor, Bush didn't graduate summa cum laude or Phi Beta Kappa. I found myself wondering: Is Rove, like Cheney, trying to undermine his former boss? Because that comment was probably more damaging to Bush than to Sotomayor. Who didn't make the association I did?

It's enough to make me almost feel sorry for Republicans who are trying to figure out how to right their ship after 2006 and 2008, and contribute to fixing the country Bush-Cheney-Rove-Newt-Limbaugh-Coulter and Co. wrecked. Of course Gingrich, who hasn't won an election since 1998, is pretending he's a presidential contender. Trust me (and I was right in 2008), Gingrich is the Rudy Giuliani of this cycle: He'll attract some faux-macho support, but the voters can smell a phony like him a mile away, all posturing and zero charisma. Also, Giuliani and Gingrich have in common their three marriages, and it's not being two-time marital losers that will doom them (most of us fail to live up to our own standards when it comes to marriage); it's the unique way they both humiliated their first two wives. They are punks, not mensches, and nobody wants a punk for president.

This is the crew that is savaging Sotomayor. Rest easy, President Obama. Lose sleep over your disturbing preventive detention proposals. This decision will work out fine.


By Salon Staff

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