Republican Senators Aren’t Following Limbaugh’s Lead on Sotomayor

Something interesting is happening in the Republican Party right now. When it comes to the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, GOP senators aren’t following Rush Limbaugh. Instead of trashing Sotomayor, they have shown signs that there won’t be a war over this nomination. It looks like even Rush’s power has its limits.

For two days now Limbaugh has been calling the nominee a racist and a bigot.

Here is the audio of today’s attack:

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However, the conservative Senate Republican response to Sotomayor has been very different. The threshold for getting their support is her need to demonstrate that she will render her opinions objectively.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said of Sotomayor, “Senate Republicans will treat Judge Sotomayor fairly. 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.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said, “I will focus on determining whether Judge Sotomayor is committed to deciding cases based only on the law as made by the people and their elected representatives, not on personal feelings or politics. I look forward to a fair and thorough process.”

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said, “Without doubt, Judge Sotomayor’s personal life story is truly inspiring. I congratulate her on being nominated. As the U.S. Senate begins the confirmation process, I look forward to looking closer at her recent rulings and her judicial philosophy. Of primary concern to me is whether or not Judge Sotomayor follows the proper role of judges and refrains from legislating from the bench.”

What we are seeing are the limits of Limbaugh’s power in the GOP. He is trying his best to derail that Sotomayor nomination, but Senate Republicans are treating him like background noise. The reason is that they understand the political implications of trying to block this nomination. The GOP as a whole needs to get Hispanic voters back into their column. Opposing Sotomayor for any reason other than judicial philosophy would be a disaster.

Since Rush Limbaugh operates in his own little bubble, he faces no consequences for his positions. The result of his insulation is that he doesn’t get the big picture. The political reality at work here is that the Republicans don’t have the votes to block Sotomayor, so saying no just for the sake of it carries the possible heavy electoral consequence of further alienation of Hispanic voters.

What we are learning is that Limbaugh does have power within the GOP, but even his power has limits.A majority of Senate Republicans will probably end up voting against her, but they aren’t going to do it because Rush Limbaugh said so.

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