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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Newt Backtracks On Sotomayor, Sorta Kinda

So world traveler Newt Gingrich, apparently polishing the timber of his presidential ambitions, has stopped tweeting and started backtracking. In a column for the movement-conservative journal Human Events, Gingrich has walked back his Twitter references to Sonia Sotomayor as a “Latina woman racist” and is now blasting her in terms that don’t use the “R” word, but pretty much say the same thing. Check out Newt’s wisdom, after extensive writing about Sotomayor’s terrible offense to white people in the Ricci case involving New Haven firefighters:

Has President Obama nominated a conventionally liberal judge to a lifetime tenure on our highest court? Or a radical liberal activist who will cast aside the rule of law in favor of the narrow, divisive politics of race and gender identity?

So we’re not talking about a big shift in Gingrich’s positions on Sotomayor. He’s just realized that it’s stupid and counterproductive to explicitly call her a “racist;” why use a screaming siren when a dog whistle will do? And other Republicans helped him reach that conclusion, as CNN’s Gloria Borger explains:

Republican senators trying to figure out a way to mount real questions about her judicial record were appalled. One Senate Republican told me that the GOP caucus grew increasingly furious at Gingrich’s grandstanding.
“People are really angry,” the senator says. “Newt and Rush have simply made it far more difficult for Republicans to raise the legitimate issues. They’re so quick to throw the word racist around, they look ugly, and make us look the same way.”
And ugly is not a good place to be when you’ve just resoundingly lost an election — with less than one-third of the Hispanic vote. If it stays at that level, Republicans will have a hard time winning elections in key red states with growing Hispanic populations.

So with Rush Limbaugh being pretty much beyond the direct influence of Beltway Republicans, it’s not that surprising that Newt, who used to run one chamber of Congress, and who wants to be the next President of the United States, decided to “moderate” his language about Sotomayor, sorta kinda. No telling which way the wind will next blow for Republicans on this nomination, but I wouldn”t count on much more “moderation,” even if it’s defined by such highly technical retreats from demagoguery as Newt’s.

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