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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Opposing Sotomayor and Scotty Nguyen's 1998 WSOP Win

Scotty Nguyen's 1998 victory at the WSOP was likely the greatest and certainly most famous last hand. Here's the video.

With a full house on the board, Nguyen dared his opponent, Kevin McBride, to call him after Nguyen went all in. Nguyen could only hold one card to win. Scotty was in fact holding the fourth 9 in his hand and he became champ. McBride graciously admitted that he only called because of Nguyen's taunts.

Well, it seems were now getting the political version of those types of taunts from Democrats toward Republicans. Here is Chuck Schumer.

Stuart Taylor deconstructs the political conundrum facing the Republicans.

The Republican dilemma is underscored by the fact that the Sotomayor actions they might be most eager to attack are themselves especially likely to engage the sympathies of Hispanic voters.

In a 2001 speech that I have criticized, for example, Judge Sotomayor suggested that
"a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male who hasn't lived that life." This will strike many Republicans as the essence of the ethnic and gender stereotyping that liberals once properly abhorred.

But with Republicans already in danger of being seen as the white-male party, rushing to the defense of white males may not be a winning argument politically.

Consider also Judge Sotomayor's assertion in the same speech that "the aspiration to impartiality is just that -- it's an aspiration, because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others"; and her suggestion that impartiality may be impossible "in most cases"; plus her implication that "by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we may do a disservice both to the law and to society."

These statements may seem to many Republicans and centrists to reek of identity politics and exude the potential for judicial bias. But again, attacking a Hispanic woman

To say that this is both unfair and hypocritical is an understatement. The Democrats shamelessly opposed Miguel Estrada and filibustered his nomination. Had he been confirmed, Estrada might already be sitting on the Supreme Court and certainly he would be on every short list the next time there is a Republican President. Of course, fairness and politics are two mutually exclusive things.

So, let's not focus on what should be but on what is. The Democrats would like nothing more than for Republicans to challenge Sotomayor, especially on the hot button racial issues, because that allows them to play racial politics. Republicans have already lost favor with Hispanics over immigration and Democrats are looking for another reason to paint Republicans as anti Hispanic. The uglier the fight were to get the more this perception would be advanced.

Any opposition to Sotomayor could itself be viewed as anti Hispanic. That's just reality in our identity politics. More than that though is the issue surrounding this quote.

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,

Make no mistake, Hispanics are very territorial. I once spoke to a Hispanic Republican strategist and they offered me the difference in talking points when speaking to Hispanics. They told me that they would attack Obama to a Latino audience by pointing out that Latinos fill only marginal seats in his administration. In many ways, it's all about paying respect to their race.

So, make no mistake, to some Latinos merely attacking Sotomayor would be viewed as a slight to the race itself. Furthermore, attacking this comment would also be viewed the same way. That's not right or fair but it is reality. Anyone who thinks my comments are racist in nature ought to look at the obscene amount of times her race has been mentioned by proponents. It doesn't so much matter to me, but proponents can't go a minute without mentioning it.

So, opposing Sotomayor must take all of this into account. The best way to do this is frankly to ask questions respectfully. It's to make all criticism based on philosophy, temperament, and qualifications. Furthermore, Republicans need to reserve all judgment until after all the hearings. It's not only inappropriate but politically unwise to come out against Sotomayor until after the full hearing is aired. Frankly, the best way for Republicans moving forward is to self impose an embargo on mentioning her race entirely. Let the Democrats remind everyone at every turn that Sotomayor is Latina. The Republicans need to focus on everything else. That's how I would mine this field.


Anonymous said...

You're right. Let the Democrats be the ones to constantly remind everybody that she's Latina, while the Republicans are the ones constantly reminding everybody that she's unacceptably liberal.

Might I also suggest laying off the talking point that she's not "intellectually strong?" I mean she graduated top of her class from Princeton and Yale, that's per se evidence that she's pretty intelligent. In the face of those kinds of qualifications, accusing her of being intellectually weak is going to sound like racial "code words".

mike volpe said...

I agree though I have heard no one say this. Also, I wouldn't come out immediately and oppose her. Rather, Senators should raise issues and reserve the right to oppose her. See where the hearings go and make a judgement after they are over.

Anonymous said...

I know at least that Karl Rove mentioned it, I'm not sure how many others have though.