May, 28, 2009
President Obama’s pick of judge Sonia Sotomayor was a supreme choice. I say this not for all the conventional reasons one would expect.
Before I explain my position, let me establish a few facts that will give you the context for my position.
First, a president is entitled to have his nominees confirmed, unless a disqualifying issue is discovered. Disagreeing with a person on abortion, gay rights, or affirmative action are not disqualifying issues. Non payment of taxes, lying under oath, or not renewing one’s law license, etc., are disqualifying acts.
But, as usual, expect Republicans to overreach on trying to block Obama’s pick. They will further alienate independent voters who want solutions to problems and not continued partisan bickering. You can disagree with judge Sotomayor on a range of issues, as I do, but you can’t make the argument that she is not qualified.
I hope and pray that Republicans won’t revert back to their natural inclination of injecting race into this battle. They know they don’t have the votes to block her confirmation, so they are going throw mud at her and hope that something sticks. Rush Limbaugh has already called Sotomayor a “racist.” Not one Republican leader voiced any objection to Rush’s race baiting.
Republicans continue to underestimate Obama’s political skills. You do not come from total obscurity to being president of the United States in four years without being a shrewd and skilled political tactician. His nomination of Sotomayor was one of the most amazing political moves I have seen in all my years of being a political operative.
In Obama’s calculation, he is at his most popular (his number will only go down and then stabilize), Democrats control the senate, and he expects another pick to the court during his term. He also knows that the Republicans are in an extremely weakened position politically. They are worse than impotent right now. Therefore, now is the time to nominate his most controversial pick (on a relative scale). Even Republicans concede that Sotomayor will be confirmed.
But, Obama’s pick has less to do with the court and more to do with the Hispanic community. Obama has been under intense pressure from the Hispanic community because he has few Hispanics in his administration in any significant position. So, the president met with a group of Hispanics and promised them a town hall meeting about giving amnesty to all the illegals in the country. But, the meeting never happened and the group began to voice their frustration to the media.
After the White House’s internal polling data came back and they had conversations with members of congress, the president realized that there was no appetite to deal with amnesty this year. Word was sent to the Hispanic community to back off. So, their consolation prize was a Hispanic on the U.S. Supreme Court.
So, basically the White House’s position with the Hispanic community is now, “shut up!” Obama has issues like a bad economy to deal with, two wars, North Korea, and health care, to name a few. Picking Sotomayor basically buys off the Hispanic community and will prevent them from bugging the administration about illegal immigration.
This move by the president was a stroke of genius. Regardless of your politics, you have to tip your hat to the president’s move. The president knows that there is absolutely nothing the Republicans can do to counter his move. Republicans don’t have anything to offer the Hispanic community.
Effectively, this is Obama’s opening salvo for his reelection campaign in 2012. He has basically taken the Hispanic vote off the table. Don’t be surprised if his next pick were not a Black person. If there is a third pick (which there is a real possibility), it will be a white male.
So, how do Republicans win a national election if they have written off the Black and Hispanic votes from day one? There are not enough white Republican/conservative voters to win a national election without a broader base of support.
Politically, Republicans are in bad shape and there is no light at the end of the tunnel in the near term. If the economy recovers, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario for a Republican victory in 2012. Based on current political demographics, Republicans will probably lose seats in both houses of congress during next years congressional elections.
Obama is playing chess while the Republicans are playing checkers. That is why his picking of Sonia Sotomayor was such a supreme stroke of genius.
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-based political consulting/government affairs firm. You can listen to his radio show every Saturday evening from 7-9:00 p.m. Go to www.ustalknetwork.com to register and then click on host, and then click on his photo to join his group.