From the sidelines one can almost admire the efficacy and the cunning that the flapping lips of the Conservative movement (since no one but Colin Powell still calls themselves Republicans anymore) have when attacking the Progressives' agenda. It conjures up a feeling, if only for a second, of awe and even a little bit of jealousy as you ponder what might be if Harry Reid lashed out with even 1/10 of the vigor and passion that Karl Rove seems to expend on his porcelain throne before going on FoxNews. But alas, that's one of the big differences that exist within our two party system.
Certainly, without any doubt, the Conservative attack machine is always fueled up and ready to go, waiting with bated breath for a signal, or an order to come down the Rove/Limbaugh/Hannity bat-phone and announce who the day's target shall be. As it turned out yesterday, the target was Sonia Sotomayor, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals judge that President Obama has just nominated to replace Justice Souter upon his retirement. It was no surprise to see Karl Rove jump out in front and begin his typical attempt of labeling her "a liberal". Truth be told, I wouldn't even mind all this incessant labeling if it was even remotely accurate. The sad truth of the matter is that most of the people FoxNews and friends label as being "unabashed liberals" are really Liberals in the Phil Ochsian definition, meaning that they are unabashed moderates.
Consider this Supreme Court nominee and her history. While the one case that Sean Hannity harped on for half of his show on Tuesday focused on a decision to allow a fire department in Connecticut to choose to not promote anyone in favor of only promoting white firefighters, that's not that earth shattering of a decision since all she did was affirm the lower court's decision in the case.
You would think that if they really cared about Liberal vs. Conservative issues, they would be happy to have Sotomayor given her likely views on abortion, but that's not even what's at stake for the GOP. Better for them to attack her as a Liberal and have it established that yes, she is a Liberal, so that the next person they talk about will seem really liberal in the eyes of the public. The game they are playing is redrawing the lines and trying to move the "moderate" line to the right...and sadly, it's working.
Pundit after putrid pundit on the cable news programs use terms like "unabashed liberal," "out spoken liberal," and "established liberal" when discussing Judge Sotomayor and they go completely unchallenged by anyone out there. If she is those things, what does that make someone like Dennis Kucinich who is one of the only true Progressivs in Congress? And if she is so far the left as they claim, does that make Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), with his record of supporting torture and opposing voting rights initatives, a moderate? It is this kind of rightward shift in the public perception of our political battlefield that allowed John McCain to pretend to be a moderate republican. Truth of the matter is, moderate republicans like Jim Jeffords (Vermont) and Arlen Spector (Pennsylvania) have been forced out of the GOP and the ones that remain (Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins) may not last much longer.
Personally, I hope this whole nomination of Judge Sotomayor is Obama's Harriet Myers, albeit far more qualified. It's not that I don't think she'd be a fine Supreme Court Justice, but given the Bush appointments of Alito and Roberts, and the current makeup of the Senate, now seems like the perfect opportunity to seize the day and put on the bench a young, progressive, healthy justice who might break William O. Douglas' record for longest serving member of the Court.