Wednesday, July 15, 2009

GOP's ethnic fallout over Judge Sotomayor confirmation hearings

Let's face it, the confirmation hearings of Circuit Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor are a delicious dish of Schadenfraude for liberal opponents of the Republican Party. The Grand Old Party senators will likely feel the whiplash of Hispanic voters in 2010 and 2012.
How and why will this happen? Several Republican senators apparently are finding little in her judicial record to assail her on, are carping endlessly on her "wise Latina" remark.
I find the comment a little arrogant, but ultimately, I believe that she has a point. When one lives in a community beset by prejudice (actually two communities, women and Latinos/as) one will glean some perspectives on life that white males will have much less likely a chance to experience. This experience will add some useful knowledge and insight on the Supreme Court during occasions of questioning and discussion. But I digress, back to the larger political ramifications.

So, the attack (by the GOP senators) goes on... Once is enough for their point about her controversial speech. Can't they give it a rest? In an office or at a party, anyone beating a dead horse as these senators do would experience people getting up and abandoning them. Give it up already.

Their droning attacks cannot help the Grand Old Party too well among sensitive Latinos. Yet some of the senators droning on with nothing but the same "wise Latina" criticisms represent western states in which the Republicans are vulnerable. The western United States used to be solidly Republican. Look at the presidential elections of 1976 and 1980. The Republicans have lost the Pacific Coast states of California, Oregon and Washington. With the growth of Hispanic population in Nevada and Arizona the Republicans' hold there is shaky. The Republicans' stand on immigration, particularly prior to 2006, will not be remembered favorably by Hispanics. And now, the latest assault in the hearings will add further alienation.
Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, up for reelection in 2012 is figuring prominently in the suicidal attacks on Sotomayor. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Sessions of Alabama are also steadfast in their tenacious, gnawing criticism of Sotomayor, but they have much safer seats.
One thing that comes across is the arrogant, patronizing tone of speeches from senators that graduated from state law schools with far less prestigious reputations (Graham from University of South Carolina and Sessions of University of Alabama.) Is there some jealousy or inferiority complex here???? hmmm....

How is all of this being handled on the Spanish-language networks, Telemundo, Univision and Telefutura? Well, they are giving hardly any attention to it; and of course, they are not joining with PS or CNN in the gavel-to-gavel converage of the confirmation hearings. Michel Martin's terrific NPR radio show, "Tell Me More," yesterday had a debate between three journalists at Spanish language media outlets over the Spanish language networks' negligence of coverage, Gerson Borrero, of New York's "El Diario/La Prensa," Lori Montenegro, a correspondent for the Telemundo TV network and Maria Elena Salinas, a news anchor for the Univision network. Click here for the 13 minute 45 second audio segment, "Critics: Hispanic Media Lack Coverage Of Sotomayor."

**Note this, Republicans**
Some GOP strategists around two months ago already voice great trepidations of the repercussion of Republican attacks on Sotomayor. From a late May, 2009 blog posting:
One prominent Hispanic GOP strategist, who asked not to be identified discussing the topic, said the blistering attacks on Sotomayor were “suicidal” for the party, especially as it attempts to counter the broad support for Obama among Hispanics.
“What’s this going to look like on Telemundo? What’s it going to look like on Univision?” asked this strategist, referring to the nation’s two largest Spanish-language networks. “If we want to compete as a national party in the near future, we cannot be seen taking these kind of cheap shots. We simply cannot actively work to alienate the fastest-growing bloc in the electorate.”

John Ullyot, a GOP strategist who worked on judicial nominations as a Capitol Hill staffer, said that “any comments politically on race or gender are fraught with peril for Republicans.”

Quoted July 9 in USA Today, a GOP strategist said that Spanish-language television poses a danger for Republicans:
All of that creates "a big problem" for Republicans who want to oppose Sotomayor, says Lionel Sosa, a marketing executive whose GOP clients have included former president George W. Bush and John McCain.
Sosa cautions Republicans against opposing a wave of ethnic pride for the nominee: "If you are Latino, you are for Sotomayor."
Hispanic voters have determined the winner in Florida elections since 2000 and in Nevada since 2004, says Luis Fraga, director of the University of Washington's Diversity Research Institute. He credits divisive debates over immigration with turning Hispanics — who helped elect Bush — away from the GOP.

Republicans need to remember that some of these states do not include those represented by notable critics this week (e.g., Arizona), but they include competitive with high percentages of Latinos and competitive senate races in 2010 and 2012: Nevada, Colorado, Florida.

Have the Republicans read this article? (I doubt it, based on today's and yesterday's Republican senator statements.)
From Connecticut's "Norwich Bulletin," July 10, 2009, "Sotomayor hearings raise fears of racism among Hispanics in Eastern Connecticut":
The local Hispanic community is expected to pay close attention to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings next week.
Elizabeth Garcia-Gonzalez is executive director of Centro de la Communidad, a nonprofit agency that provides social services for Hispanics in southeastern Connecticut.
She said the local Hispanic community is closely following the Sotomayor nomination, especially because of a certain issue.
“I know a lot of individuals who feel she is being discriminated against because she is Hispanic,” Garcia-Gonzalez said. “They are hoping things go well with Sotomayor.”

. . . .
Sotomayor would be the nation’s first Hispanic justice on the court. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s proceedings, which begin Monday, will be closely followed by the nation’s major Spanish-language television networks, Univision and Telemundo.

Garcia-Gonzalez said if Sotomayor is nominated, it will boost the self-esteem of all Hispanics, including the younger generation, who will see that true opportunities of success exist for them.
. . . .
Melendez-Cooper said Sotomayor serves as a role model to Hispanics.
“It’s a great opportunity for a larger presence of the Hispanic community (in the nation) to have Sotomayor in that position,” he said.

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