Thursday, May 28, 2009

Flailings — In a Pig’s Foot

The right wing noise machine is going into overdrive trying to come up with something with which to tar Judge Sonia Sotomayor before the Senate confirms her to the Supreme Court. If the last couple of days are any guide, you really have to marvel at the lengths and depths they will go to to come up with something — anything — to attack her with. It’s almost inspired.

First there’s the usual taking-out-of-context of words from a speech she gave in 2001 that Newt Gingrich says are so bigoted that she should withdraw her name; except when you read the speech you realize it’s nothing of the sort (to the point that conservative columnist Rod Dreher says he was wrong about her). Then Karl Rove claims that her educational background is inconsequential; “I know lots of stupid people who went to Ivy League schools.” Okay, who wants to hit that one out of the park? Rush Limbaugh calls her a “reverse racist,” whatever the hell that means

From there we go into the land of the truly desperate. Mark Krikorian at the National Review, demands that we shouldn’t be forced to pronounce her name correctly but conform to “English” pronunciation to assert her “assimilation.” Not only is it blatantly bigoted (not to mention channeling the Borg), I wonder if Mr. Krikorian knows — or cares — that Spanish surnames have been in North America a lot longer than America has been a country, that someone from Puerto Rico doesn’t have to “assimilate” because they’ve been citizens of the United States for nearly a century, and anyone named “Krikorian” has no right to tell someone else that they should make their name easier to pronounce unless they want to sound like a complete ignoramus.

But wait, it gets better. There’s actually someone who thinks that because Judge Sotomayor likes Puerto Rican cuisine, that might be a sign that she’s an “activist” judge. I kid you not.

According to Hill reporter Alexander Bolton, “This has prompted some Republicans to muse privately about whether Sotomayor is suggesting that distinctive Puerto Rican cuisine such as patitas de cerdo con garbanzo — pigs’ tongue and ears — would somehow, in some small way influence her verdicts from the bench.”

Curt Levey, the executive director of the Committee for Justice, a conservative-leaning advocacy group, said he wasn’t certain whether Sotomayor had claimed her palate would color her view of legal facts but he said that President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee clearly touts her subjective approach to the law.

Slightly gobsmacked, I called Bolton earlier today and asked him whether this was for real–whether any conservatives were genuinely raising this issue. He confirmed, saying, “a source I spoke to said people were discussing that her [speech] had brought attention…she intimates that what she eats somehow helps her decide cases better.”

Bolton said the source was drawing, “a deductive link,” between Sotomayor’s thoughts on Puerto Rican food and her other statements. And I guess the chain goes something like this: 1). Sotomayor implied that her Latina identity informs her jurisprudence, 2). She also implied that Puerto Rican cuisine is a crucial part of her Latina identity, 3). Ergo, her gastronomical proclivities will be a non-negligible factor for her when she’s considering cases before the Supreme Court.

Got it? Good. This is the conservative opposition to Sotomayor.

(Ed. Note: TPM notes the correct translation of the menu — pig’s feet, not ears — here.)

If this is the best that the wingnuts have got going for them, then apparently we’ve found the summer replacement for America’s Funniest Videos. Get out the popcorn.