Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was the only Republican on the Judiciary Committee to vote in favor of confirming Sonia Sotomayor as the next justice of the United States Supreme Court. Graham said that while he would not have nominated Sotomayor, he believes that presidents are entitled to their choices barring an extreme choice.

It is difficult to see why more Republicans did not follow Graham. First, it shows him to be principled at a time when most voters do not associate that particular adjective with contemporary politicians. (N.B. There has never been a time, at least not in America, where the voters have viewed their political leaders as principled.) Second, at a moment when Latinos, the fasting growing part of the electorate, are excited about breaking another glass ceiling, most Republican senators decided to throw cold water on the event with the "nay" votes.

The negative votes were especially surprising in two instances. Both Senators Jon Kyl and John Cornyn come from states with large Hispanic populations. Kyl is up for re-election in 2012 when President Obama will be at the head of the ticket. Last year, all of Arizona’s neighbors – New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado – flipped from Red to Blue, largely on the strength of the Hispanic vote. Arizona only stayed in the GOP column because of the GOP nominee was hometown Senator John McCain. Even so, McCain only carried his home state by 53% to 45%. Last night in Arizona, a lot of politicians began recalibrating their careers based on the fact that Kyl has, in an instant, made himself more vulnerable than he was already. Cornyn’s vote signifies his intention to remain viable as a GOP nominee in 2012.

It was comic watching David Frum, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, try to explain how the GOP gets back into power on CNN last night. He kept insisting that the key was winning back California. With its 55 electoral votes, California is certainly a big prize and Frum is correct in saying that the Democrats in Sacramento have made a hash of things, although the state’s bizarre constitutional provisions are also largely to blame. But, except when they have run an action-hero for Governor, the GOP has not won California statewide since they backed Proposition 187, a mean-spirited attack on Latino immigrants and their children. That Proposition cost the GOP the Latino vote for a generation or two. President Obama won the state with 61 percent of the vote. Even the hapless John Kerry took California with 54%.

Frum should stick to syntax (which was a full-time job when writing for Bush) and leave the political analysis to others. Fantasies of winning California while voting against the first Latina nominated to the high court will not help. Indeed, they should keep an eye out for Texas, where the growing Latino population may soon put that state into play for the Democrats.

The GOP had an alternative path on the Sotomayor nomination, one that was charted and taken by Sen. Graham. The fact that he had no followers shows that the GOP is in lemming-mode, following the prejudices of their base into political self-destruction. Great parties can bounce back pretty quickly, but it looks like the Republicans intend to fall very far before they start climbing back into the mainstream of American political attitudes.

 

Comments

Anonymous | 7/29/2009 - 4:54pm
Most conservatives confuse judicial activism with a healthy respect for federal power under the 14th Amendment, which they regard as illegitimate.  I think the soon to be Justice will do just fine and will likely vote as much with Kennedy, Roberts and Alito as with Stevens, Breyer and Ginsberg.  As long as Obama doesn't appoint anyone like Thomas or Scalia all is right with the world, as they don't understand or accept the federal power inherent in Amendment 14 - which should be a disqualifier to office.
Anonymous | 7/29/2009 - 3:28pm
I don't understand the constant shilling for the Democrat party.  Are the Jesuits all Democrats?  Is this a political magazine?
Anonymous | 7/29/2009 - 1:01pm
Good Lord.
Why aren't Democrats ''lemmings'' for voting for her en masse? Why is it only the GOP opponents? And wouldn't they be ''lemmings'' if they blindly approved her just because she was nominated?
Why are you not able to see that there might be principled reasons for voting against her?
And how can you be forecasting the death of the GOP when your man's numbers are plummeting by the day and the public opposition to his proposals is mounting?
Alternatives - you want alternatives? The GOP had alternatives to the Stimulus plan, but was locked out of the process by Pelosi. Many, many proposals for health-care reform have been set out by the GOP and conservatives - tort reform and so on - but they are ignored.
Look - here's your bottom line - Obama is president. He can't get his health care proposal through Congress, in which his own party is a majority.
*There's a problem, and it's not the GOP* - it's Obama's fellow Democrats and their constituents who are refusing to be, you know...lemmings.
Anonymous | 7/29/2009 - 12:23pm

Judicial activists are by definition extreme choices, in my book. Were I a GOP senator, I would have gotten the clue by now that if you try to compromise and work with the Dems, they steamroll you and take advantage. Just as the GOP would were they in the majority.

I like latinos, I do not like Stotomayor, and thus I do not support her regardless of what gender or ethnicity she is. Supporting someone for the Supreme Court, or any lifetime appointment with grand power, must be done on the basis of merit, not trying to please this or that demographic. Give me a brilliant orginalist-or even non-activist-latina judge, I will support her.

Anonymous | 7/29/2009 - 11:41am
"The GOP had an alternative path on the Sotomayor nomination, one that was charted and taken by Sen. Graham. The fact that he had no followers shows that the GOP is in lemming-mode, following the prejudices of their base into political self-destruction."
So unlike the Democrats who didn't follow Sen. Feinstein's principled vote FOR Charles Pickering after he was falsely and mailicously accused (as standard liberal operating procedure requires) of being a racist, despite having the endorsement of the first Black Chief Justice of the Miss Supreme Court.  
And I might add as well that the Democrats sure didn't suffer anything for tarpedoing the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the DC Circuit, but thats probably because Liberal media types like you didn't consider a conservative like Mr. Estrada, even a well-qualified one, to be a true representative Latino.
I think Sotomayor's views on race and identity in this country put her well out of the mainstream, and the Ricci case strikes a cord with working Americans of ALL races, those people the rich Liberals like Kennedy and Dodd always purport to speak for.
Anonymous | 7/29/2009 - 11:18am
I think you are correct regarding the GOP.  When immigration reform comes up, as it will soon, you can almost count on them making it worse for themselves.  This begs the question of whether they will ever come back.  It may be that the Democrats will become so dominant in Congress that the caususes will split into two parties - a split which could occur on a number of lines - with abortion being one of them and liberty being another.