May 26, 2009

Sotomayor to get kid gloves from the GOP?

"What are we paying you guys for?" Getting a shoe shine costs under $10. I think - I don't really know. But I do know that GOP Senators get a lot more than that, and if all they plan to do is be a rubber stamp, then they offer less value than a good shoe shine at thousands of times the price. The President doesn't need more "Yes Men' (and women). He has far more than enough of those.

Then again, I don't think the kid gloves is a fair assessment. According to Politico, Senate GOP Senators have been told to hold their fire on President Obama's SCOTUS nominee Justice Sotomayor. But I'm not so sure it really reads that way. There's some spin in the article;

Senate Judiciary Committee member John Cornyn (R-Texas), the head of the Senate GOP's campaign arm, said Tuesday that it is "essential that the Senate conducts this process thoroughly," and that Obama had assured him that senators would have "ample time to give Ms. Sotomayor's record a full and fair review."

"Therefore, it is imperative that my colleagues and members of the media do not pre-judge or pre-confirm Ms. Sotomayor," Cornyn said. "She must prove her commitment to impartially deciding cases based on the law, rather than based on her own personal politics, feelings and preferences."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that Republicans will treat Sotomayor "fairly" but that the Senate is not a "rubber stamp."

"But we will thoroughly examine her record to ensure she understands that the role of a jurist in our democracy is to apply the law even-handedly, despite their own feelings or personal or political preferences."

"Our Democratic colleagues have often remarked that the Senate is not a 'rubber stamp.' Accordingly, we trust they will ensure there is adequate time to prepare for this nomination, and a full and fair opportunity to question the nominee and debate her qualifications," McConnell said.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), head of the Republican Conference, said the nominee should be given both "respectful and rigorous scrutiny."

If by holding their fire, Politico means that the GOP won't resort to the histrionics of an Anita Hill attack, or slander or name calling, then yes, the hounds won't be released. But that article doesn't read that there won't be scrutiny. It doesn't read that the GOP won't be sticking to principles like interpreting the law as opposed to a "feelings" approach to the law. In other words, not like Obama has said he wanted.

Ultimately the GOP should ask hard questions and get a bit dirty, but they should be given credit for taking the high road too. Slander and smearing are beyond the pale.

Of course - there may details that come out that make the nominee unacceptable. The administration has yet to prove it's improved it's vetting process. But ultimately Obama will likely get his liberal nominee as a replacement Supreme Court Justice for a retiring liberal Supreme Court Justice. Barring a deal-breaker, there's just too many votes in liberal hands to prevent it.

The real question for the GOP on the floor vote, is how should the GOP handle the voting? Politically or based on principle?

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