Today, a series of news items shows the Republican Party still has not learned the lessons of the 2006 and 2008 elections.
NEWS FLASH 1: After days of condescending questions designed to “grill” the President’s distinguished nominee for the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, most Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee voted against her today. According to conservative columnist Ruben Navarrette: “Judge Sonia Sotomayor cruised through her confirmation hearings without a scratch. Too bad we can’t say the same about the seven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee who tried to dent her credibility and wound up demolishing their own. The problem wasn’t that Republican senators challenged Sotomayor. That’s their job. The problem was that they did their job in such an obsessive and boorish way so as to make clear to the entire country that they had no idea how to deal with someone like Sotomayor. Like when Tom Coburn of Oklahoma tried to be funny by pulling out his Ricky Ricardo accent and informing Sotomayor that she had ‘some ‘splaining to do.'” Navarrette says that the GOP missed a huge opportunity to make “lemons into lemonade by grabbing the moment and using it to make the point that their party does, on occasion, open doors for the talented but underrepresented. Instead, they gave the appearance of standing in the doorway.”
NEWS FLASH 2: Despite invitations to several Republican Party leaders, none could make the time to attend the National Council of La Raza’s annual conference in Chicago, while Democratic National Committee Chair Tim Kaine and several officials from the Obama Administration are attending and speaking. This is the largest gathering of Latino leaders and activists in the country. NCLR’s annual conference has attracted President Bush, John McCain and many other Republicans in the past. But the GOP’s unwillingness to send a representative this year speaks volumes.
NEWS FLASH 3: According to Chris Strohm of Congress Daily, some Republican legislators who oppose the Democratic Party’s health care plans are pulling out their favorite bogeyman-the illegal immigrant-to try to block progress on Obama’s signature priority. This week, Rep. Lamar Smith and Rep. Steve King both claimed that Democrats want to provide taxpayer funded health insurance to undocumented immigrants – despite the fact that the proposed legislation clearly bars them, something both President Obama and Speaker Pelosi have made crystal clear. But this is a familiar page from the GOP playbook: play off of people’s anxieties over illegal immigration with lies and distortion in order to delay or derail something unrelated.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice: “Clearly, the GOP has not learned the lessons of the 2006 and 2008 elections when it comes to courting Latino voters. In one of the most remarkable falls from political grace in recent electoral history, the efforts by President Bush and Karl Rove to win over Latino voters, especially Latino immigrant voters, was torn asunder from 2005 on by the rightwing revolt against comprehensive immigration reform and the demonization of hardworking immigrant families. For example, Spanish-dominant voters supported John Kerry in 2004 by a slim margin – 52 – 48%. In 2008 Barack Obama won a much larger cohort of Spanish-dominant voters by a margin of 75% – 25%. So, what does the GOP do to recover? Oppose Judge Sotomayor, ignore the largest Latino organization in the country, and distort the health care debate by scapegoating immigrants. What is the definition of ‘insanity’ again? It’s time for common-sense conservatives and moderate Republicans who understand that antagonizing the fastest growing group of new voters in the country amounts to political suicide to stand up and take on the radical right and their know-nothing tendencies.”