Thursday, May 28, 2009

May 28, 2009

     Losing's no fun;  we know that.  Then-President Richard Nixon nominated Judge Clement Haynsworth for a seat on the High Court back in 1969.  He lost.  Nixon's next nominee, G. Harrold Carswell, lost too but it was worse.  One of his defenders, Senator Roman Hruska of Nebraska, thundered, "Even if he is mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers.  They are entitled to a little representation, aren't  they?"  His colleagues answered, "No."
       Sometimes it's as bad when you win.  When Thurgood Marshall, the lion of the civil rights movement, resigned, President George Bush nominated Clarence Thomas, a black but no Marshall, to replace him.  Things puttered along calmly enough until a black woman named Anita Hill charged Thomas with sexually abusing her when she worked for him.
     Media frenzy?  Oh, yes.  Words like "penis" on national TV?  Oh, yes.  Thomas called the attacks "a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks."  The lynch mob failed;  the Senate confirmed Thomas 52-48, but the episode must have changed him forever.
     This time?  Won't happen. The country isn't as partisan.  In 2003 right-winger James Dobson called Justice Anthony Kennedy, often a swing vote, "the most dangerous man in America."  Not today.
     And the New York Times quotes Matthew Dowd (a political consultant and strategist for the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign), saying that in 2000 the GOP would have needed 35% of the Hispanic vote to win a national election.  Now, he says, 40%.  Why get all those folks mad at you?  Republican senators will grumble and argue about Sonia Sotomayor, of course.  That's already started.  But in the end rather than lose all those votes, they'll give their vote.  She'll be confirmed. 

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