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:

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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4 Replies to “Republican Senators Aren’t Following Limbaugh’s Lead on Sotomayor”

  1. Limbaugh isn’t pushing against her.

    If you’ve listened to him the past few days he has *not* spent much time on her. Oh, he has attacked her as being “completely unqualified” (for what reasons remain a little unclear) and called her a “radical extremist anticonstitutionalist” but thats much more harsh than he reserves for his casual friends. He doesn’t spend much time raking her across the coals before moving onto other topics. He even let slip why he isn’t devoting energy to a roadblock, he said the moderate republicans will be unable to find any reason to vote against her so the fight is already over. Of course he layers it on saying these moderates are RINOs and cowards but the truth came shining through, unless she eats a baby live on tv she is going to be the next SCOTUS justice.

    Anyone who thinks Rush tried and failed to get the troops fired up over this cause isn’t actually paying attention to what he is saying. He is having much more fun going after General Powell right now, more power to him as his continues to burn down the big tent.

  2. Does it matter if the troops are fired up, if the army shrinks? It is a key question that the GOP is wrestling with right now. The idea that Limbaugh isn’t devoting much attention to her or that he is going easy on her is a bit silly. He called her a racist and a bigot. That’s not going easy. Rush would love to get the credit for knocking down this nomination, but there isn’t going to be a filibuster, and she will probably have a relatively smooth confirmation process. If Rush really wanted to fire up the base why doesn’t he research her rulings and point out some things that the base could oppose? That would be work. It is much easier to distort and name call. Facts are boring to Rush.

  3. great risk involves coming out in a mean spirited obstructionist way especially since she will likely get confirmed even if they try that. Instead I think they may want others to throw out red meat and see if the public reacts. If the public reacts, it is the GOP’s only chance to derail the nomination at 59-40 in terms of raw party numbers. I hope she gets confirmed for the record. I just don’t think alienating Hispanic voters any more than Tancredo did in 2008 is in their hopes for this process.

  4. I think that Democrats already have the 60th vote for her, and that vote is in the person of John McCain. I suspect she will get at least 6 or 7 Republican votes.

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