The reason we don't need the whole Sonja Sotomayor discussion right now is that the Democrats almost entirely control the outcome of the hearings. As Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said yesterday, barring a "complete meltdown," she was, without question, in.
Therefore, words are, well, silly, in a way, and when they are, they get spent frivolously, as they will in the hearings, not because they have any effect on an already foregone conclusion but because they allow the opportunity for senators to preen to their voting bases, a behavior which ain't as pretty as preening is supposed to be.
And the reason that preening isn't pretty is that these days "the base" of each of the political parties could hardly be farther apart. Sometimes it seems that this country is entirely ripped in half, the world we live in entirely black and white. Common sense says life itself ain't that way, but posturing and political pundits, the blowhards from both sides only deepen the colors.
Sotomayor's hearings can and will descend rather quickly into the forbidden territory of race because she's of Puerto Rican descent and has frequently been outspoken about the way in which that heritage colors her own judicial activity. That kind of subjectivity scares some white folks because nothing rattles most of us worse than conceding power, especially if we've never been less than the majority. The photo above is as disconcerting to many white folks here as it is to the Russians, who, according to experts, tend not to trust Obama because he isn't, well, "one of us."
All of that is both confusing and complex, and it's fair to say that racial problems in America go far deeper than politics. I know good Native American Christians who simply say that until white America confesses the sins it perpetuated against Indian people, starting in 1620, there's no escaping greater national turmoil. African-Americans can and do speak similarly.
The Sotomayor hearings offer an opportunity for racial divides to arise, front and center, once again, and to do so with impunity because the outcome is pre-determined, as Graham said, which means that posturing is the name of the game. Yucch.
I'd vote for her today. But she doesn't need my vote, and therefore the blubbering will go on as our wonderful reps fill the air with talk designed primarily to position themselves for re-election, talk that tends to distract and divide. Not fun.
Ever since Bork, Supreme Court nomination fights have been mud fights.
Race in America is a complicated mess, and it will likely stay that way for a long, long time because all of us--white and black and red--like to feather our own nests with stories that we think make those nests stronger and sweeter, stories that are often conveniently half-truth, which is to say not truth at all.
That having been said, maybe we really need Judge Sotomayor right now. There are issues, deep issues, that have not been resolved--and won't be--for a long time unless we try to talk them through. Maybe her nomination gives us that opportunity by tossing us from those nests.