Below is a lengthy excerpt from a Huffington Post online column written by Sam Stein. Correctly, Stein points out that Sen. Jeff Sessions, a hardcore Republican from Alabama, is doing more damage than good in grilling Judge Sonia Sotomayor (in an effort to appease his far-right base). The longer Sessions and others spend attacking Sotomayor the more it makes Republicans look bad and grossly out of touch with voters they someday will need (minorities … particularly Latinos).
Wrote Stein for Huffington Post:
Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican who took over the post from Pennsylvania Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter, is under intense pressure to land blows on Sotomayor without offending Hispanic voters. It’s a tough task, made all the more difficult by Sessions’ history of racially insensitive positions and statements.
So far the results have been mixed. Over at Fox News, host Chris Wallace and his co-panelist applauded the Alabaman for his questioning of Sotomayor, in which he honed in on her past statements about race and her role in Ricci v. DeStefano(the New Haven firefighter case). While other GOPers (notably Utah Sen. Orin Hatch) got stuck in the legal weeds, Sessions tried to draw blood, the Fox panel argued.
But Democrats both in and out of government say that is exactly the type of posture they want.
“Sessions spent 30 minutes talking about lines in speeches taken out of context, instead of her 17 years on the bench,”said one Democratic operative working on the Sotomayor confirmation. “When Judge Sotomayor tried to reference her work as a judge and her fidelity to the law in her more than 3000 judicial opinions, Sen. Sessions ignored her answers. In fact, in his 30 minutes of questioning, after spending weeks supposedly reviewing her judicial record, Sen. Sessions could only manage to mention one of her actual decisions as a judge.”
Certainly, the image of a white southern senator pressing a Hispanic judge on topics of affirmative action carries racial implications that progressives don’t mind addressing.Ian Millhiser, a Legal Research Analyst with the Democratic-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund, told the Huffington Post that he was “flabbergasted that conservatives picked someone with a long history of race-based attacks as their point person on the Sotomayor hearing.”
Sen. Sessions, who probably had no intention of voting for Sotomayor prior to the start of these pointless (in terms of substance) hearings, has turned himself and the Republicans into the real story here as they have underestimated the toughness, intelligence and fairness of Judge Sotomayor.
Appeasing a small base (that already will vote for pretty much any Republican in any race) may cost Sessions and the GOP a larger base it is becoming increasingly out of touch with.