What did Laura Bush say about Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor?
At the very end of May, a Gallup Poll was released showing that there is a huge gender gap, among both Republicans and Democrats, in terms of people’s support for the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. While this wasn’t a huge surprise, what did shock some people was the great disparity between women who identify as Republican and their male conservative counterparts.
According to Gallup, 65% of Democratic men approve of Obama’s choice, compared to 70% among females who identify themselves as Dems. The shocker? 33% of Republican women are in favor of the nomination. While this is not a huge amount of support, it is much larger than the same number for Republican men — just 11%.
Liberal bloggers are having a lot of fun with this finding, most of it at the expense of the Republican party. The Daily Kos offered this jab at the beginning of June — “If the Republicans can find new ways to alienate voters, trust them to find it.” The question on the minds of many Democrats puzzled by the incredibly negative response to Sotomayor: Is it because she’s a woman?
The larger question seems to be “Why?” Why would Republicans want to antagonize the first Supreme Court nominee in years that is galvanizing women across the nation?
Adding to the confusion is the reaction of some prominent female Republicans to Sotomayor’s potential spot on the Supreme Court.
Former First Lady Laura Bush called Sonia Sotomayor a “very interesting and good nominee” in a TV interview with “Good Morning America” that aired Monday, June 8th, 2009.
Mrs. Bush said, in part, that “As a woman I’m proud that there might be another woman on the court. So we’ll see what happens, but I wish her well.”
Now, we shouldn’t be too surprised about Laura Bush’s reaction. She was, at times, a strong voice for women from the East Wing of the White House. Included in her tasks as First Lady were spearheading early childhood development programs, as much a part of women’s rights as any other issue, and she created the Women’s Health and Wellness initiative. These are just two of the programs that Mrs. Bush was involved in — regardless of how you feel about the Bush legacy, Laura Bush was an outspoken proponent of women’s issues.
Since Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, she has been the target of attacks by most of the political right, including Rush Limbaugh’s comment that Sotomayor is a “reverse racist”.
Newt Gingrich joined in the fray, echoing Limbaugh’s statement that Sotomayor is a “racist” — all this for past remarks suggesting a “wise Latina” could provide better justice than a white male who lacked similar experience. The end of that sentence is the key — of course a person with more experience will provide better justice. The political right seems to stop listening to the sentence around the words “white male”. Again, no one should be shocked.
Mrs. Bush is clearly not the only Republican woman looking forward to the presence of a woman on the Supreme court. John McCain’s daughter has blogged about her favorable opinion of Sotomayor, and clearly (according to Gallup) there are many more conservative women willing to back Obama’s choice.
By the way, it isn’t just Republican females who are standing up for Sotomayor. Michael Steele, president of the GOP, said Republicans should recognize the “historic aspect” of Sotomayor’s nomination. Steele, who is not known for his affection for Democrats, is just the latest in a lengthy string of other Republicans, male and female, who are throwing their weight behind Sotomayor’s nomination.
A top Senate Republican is also taking aim at commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich. Senator John Cornyn, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is angry over the suggestion that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is a racist.
“I think it’s terrible,” Sen. Cornyn said in an interview with NPR’s “All Things Considered”. “This is not the kind of tone any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advise and consent.” Cornyn went on to remind listeners that neither Limbaugh or Gingrich are “elected Republican officials”.
While it is heartening to hear big name Republicans supporting our President’s choice for the Supreme Court, there are still many on the right who cling to the notion that Sotomayor is either a racist, unqualified, or vehemently liberal. If you look into her record, she is none of the above. For instance, Sotomayor (as a member of the Appeals Court) presided over 50 cases of racial discrimination, finding in 43 of these cases that discrimination did not take place. She voted on the side of those who felt they were “discriminated” against just 14% of the time.
We have not heard the end of the debate over Sonia Sotomayor. It is unlikely that her nomination will be blocked — the Republicans simply don’t have the votes to pull it off. In fact, some pundits (including Limbaugh) have predicted that Sotomayor already has as many as 80 favorable votes in the Senate.
The reaction of powerful Republicans in government (both male and female) is a good sign for our government. If the game of party politics is slowing even a little, we will all be better off.