Senators Kyl, Sessions don't know if Sotomayor is a racist
by ryeland, Sun May 31, 2009 at 11:00:49 PM EDT
On the Sunday morning shows, Senators Jon Kyl and Jeff Sessions did their best to dance through the minefield laid by the titular leaders of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich. People of decency and character wouldn't have to dodge anything, but these two senators have to be careful not to offend the substantial number of bigots in the GOP base, while avoiding any quotable race-baiting.
The tactic was obvious and they would have been called out on it if there had been a competent journalist in the room. Both Republican senators were asked if they believe that Sonia Sotomayor is a racist and they both refused to give a straightforward answer.
First up, Senator Jon Kyl on Face the Nation -- too cowardly to repudiate the racist tactics being engaged in by the Republican leadership:
BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think Republicans ought to stop calling her a racist?
SENATOR KYL: I don't know of Republicans in the Senate who have ever called her a racist...
SCHIEFFER: I said Republicans, not Republicans in the Senate.
KYL: Well, I hope our job is a little bit like we're insisting for judges. And that is we look at the facts, we examine the situation, and then we make our decision.
SCHIEFFER: Let me just clear up one thing. You do not think she is a racist do you, Senator Kyle or...do you?
KYL: Bob, I'm not going to get drawn into characterizations before I've even met her. I'll be meeting her on Tuesday. I intend to review very carefully -- I actually practiced before the Supreme Court. I enjoy reading opinions. And I'm going to read as many or her opinions and look at the decision that she's made, before I make any pronouncements. I think that's what we're asking her to do as a judge when she approaches cases. And I think she would want us to approach our consideration of her nomination in the same fashion.
Yeah, jackass, I'm sure she wants you to approach her nomination saying that you don't know if she's a racist or not. Disgraceful.
Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III came prepared with his own "is she a racist?" non-denial talking points intended to carefully placate feckless journalists without offending racist Republicans. He's not going to "use those words". Well, guess what, Jefferson, you're still a race-baiter. From Meet the Press:
MR. GREGORY: Calling her racist, a reverse racist, comparing her to David Duke. Do you think that's appropriate?
SEN. SESSIONS: I don't think I'm going to use any such words as that. I read her speech. I'm troubled by her speech. I think she has an opportunity to explain that. And I don't think we--that I'm going to use such loaded words. People on the outside can say what they choose to say.
MR. GREGORY: But wait, but do you make a judgment about that? Do you think they're appropriate?
SEN. SESSIONS: I don't think those are words...
MR. GREGORY: You think that's fair?
SEN. SESSIONS: ...that I would use. And I don't think--I don't--they would not be words that I would use.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
SEN. SESSIONS: But we need to focus on what...
MR. GREGORY: Do you think she's a racist?
SEN. SESSIONS: ...she would say.
MR. GREGORY: Do you think she's a racist?
SEN. SESSIONS: I think that she is a person who believes that her background can influence her decision. That's what troubles me.
MR. GREGORY: Right. Right.
SEN. SESSIONS: I would not use those words.
MR. GREGORY: You would not use those words because you don't believe them?
SEN. SESSIONS: I don't think that's an appropriate description of her.
MR. GREGORY: Right. Do you think that conservatives should stop using those words to describe her?
SEN. SESSIONS: I would prefer that they not, but people have a free right to speak and say what they want and make the analogies that they want. This is an important thing. We should not demagogue race. It's an important issue in our culture and our country. We need to handle it with respect that it deserves and the care that it deserves.
NBC has helpfully titled the video: "Sessions: Stop calling Sotomayor a 'racist'".
Republican Senators cannot be let off the hook like this. They want to have it both ways, but you can't simultaneously pander to bigots, while cultivating a respectable mainstream image.