Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sotomayor's pals in South Florida

After watching a lot of Senate confirmation hearings the last few days, I was lucky to have my heart warmed by this fine Michael Mayo column in the Sun Sentinel about Sonia Sotomayor's connection to South Florida. Read it and be touched.

She has pals in West Palm, through her mother. Especially good to my taste was the note that the nominee's mother had such a lonely upbringing that her best friend was a book.

I watched so much of the hearings that I was relegated to today and had it playing on one of my two computers. (This was one of the few times that my extravagance of having two computers was the only way to go.) When the cable news channels cut away to aerial views of overturned trucks in giant pit mines or similar non-events, I could keep the hearing on.

Toward the end when the panels of outside witnesses spoke, it was good to be reminded of how implacable the hard right is. Linda Chavez, former flak to Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43, was merciless on Sotomayor's tiny flaws and blind to any virtues. Most of her diatribe was directed to an attack on what she saw as the nominee's "identity politics."

So it was unexpectedly refreshing and even moving to hear a gentle ripost from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of SC. Addressing her, he asked if she was aware that even Republicans sometimes resorted to identity politics. She refused to budge, and finally he asserted that even Republicans sometimes put up a slate designed to show that it's not merely a "party of short white men." I don't think she got it.

Usually I can barely stand to listen to Graham, with his prosecutorial lines always so sharply delivered. But from experience I know he sometimes makes a good point. And a day like today makes me wonder if he might move from South Carolina someday and become more of a national figure. He appears to be susceptible to rehab. But South Carolina is impossible as a national base for anyone but the far right.

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