Friday, May 29, 2009

Sen. John Cornyn goes onto foreign soil to criticize his leader

In this case the leader is Rush Limbaugh, and the foreign soil is NPR.

[h/t AMERICAblog]

A top Senate Republican is taking aim at recent statements from conservative commentators Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich suggesting Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is a "racist."

"I think it's terrible," Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told NPR's "All Things Considered" Thursday. "This is not the kind of tone any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advise and consent.”

Both the popular radio host and former GOP House Speaker have suggested Obama's pick for the high court is a racist while referencing a 2001 speech at Berkeley during which Sotomayor said, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
One can appreciate Cornyn's dilemma.

As chair of the NRSC, his job is to get Republicans elected to the United States Senate. Any mammal with its brainstem intact can figure out how hard that will be if the GOP continues to alienate moderate, independent, and Hispanic voters with the racist spittle spewing from the mouths of Limbaugh, Gingrich, Tancredo, and their ilk. The right-wing reaction to the Sotomayor nomination has been deranged. Elected Republicans have been trying their best to step softly around their desire to oppose a Democratic nominee while not appearing to oppose the first Latina nominee. The base isn't making it easy for them, to say the least.

But there is stepping softly, and then there is stepping into the lion's den. That's what Cornyn did by criticizing Limbaugh on National Public Radio, of all places. Conservatives consider NPR enemy territory. What Cornyn did yesterday was a lose-lose, a massive strategic error. The GOP base will interpret it, correctly, as an attempt to appeal to centrist Democrats and moderate Republicans by visiting the so-called liberal media to express his disapproval of the unhinged rantings of Limbaugh and Gingrich. The problem is that he won't win over anybody who isn't already on his side, and he will infuriate the base by appearing to betray conservatism itself.

Cornyn has already triggered fury among right-wing blogs and other elements of the base by endorsing Charlie Crist in the 2010 Florida senate race. The right-wingers want ultra-conservative Marco Rubio to get the nomination. They are apoplectic that the NRSC took sides in the Republican primary. They have even started a movement called Not One Red Cent to punish the senatorial campaign committee by starving it of funds.

Cornyn is insane if he thinks these people will be open to persuasion about the need to appear reasonable in order to win elections. That's what happens when you spend 25 years obliterating the very idea of nuance. It is not available to you when you need it.

I expect that Limbaugh will savage Cornyn during his broadcast today. By the time the sun goes down, the good senator's office will issue a "clarification" of his remarks. That's if he doesn't call in to the program to beg for Limbaugh's forgiveness in person.


LeftLeaningLady said...

Hmmmm, I would like to know what happened on this. Did Rush spew his vitriole onto Cornyn? I can't find out myself, I refuse to look at anything that wingbag does!

UncommonSense said...

From Media Matters: Limbaugh Questions Sen. Cornyn's Conservative CredentialsRush's next caller said that he understands that truth-telling is popular, and that's what we need from politicians, and he always thought John Cornyn was a strong conservative, but his comments about Rush and Sotomayor have caused him to rethink that. Rush said that there's a big difference between getting votes is very different from getting an audience, and that Cornyn's comments are all based on polling. Republicans, he said, are as afraid of the Hispanic vote as they are of conservative Christians. Rush said he thinks Republicans want Hispanics to replace conservative Christians in the party. All of these Republicans in Washington, said Rush, have this fear of moderates and independents fleeing in droves over extreme rhetoric, which they define as being "truthful." Rush wanted to remind everyone again that his analysis of Sotomayor is not aimed at keeping her off the court, but there is an opportunity here to tell the country who Obama is by telling the country who she is. Rush said he was dumbfounded by this reluctance by Republicans to contrast themselves with their enemies. It's almost as if they're content to share power as losers. John Cornyn can be loved by NPR -- all he has to do is bash Rush or Newt. That's how you get on these media programs, Rush said.