Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

With Sotomayor, Obama has shown "bad faith toward an America that has shown him only good faith."

So says Shelby Steele in today’s WSJ. His argument stretches back to his thesis from the election (and the title of his book on the subject) that Barack Obama is a "bound man"--especially on the question of identity politics. According to Steele, Obama claims to be and seems to seek to be "post-racial" in a kind of "bargaining" with whites whereby their embracing him absolves them of any share of guilt in America’s racist past. But Obama also cannot escape the political truth that much of his most loyal support comes from groups that also support exactly the kind of identity politics touted by Sotomayor.

If Obama was truly engaged in a kind of wise and statesmanlike tying together of these seemingly incompatible extremes for the purpose of actually arriving at something that is akin to a post-racial America, it would seem that he would have to point to something like a third way. Forget, for a moment, what the substance of that third way would be (for I suspect he doesn’t really know the answer to that himself). How would he point the way? He would have to affirm the legitimate grievances on both sides--the weariness with the guilt on the one hand, and the injured feelings and actual harm felt on the other. And, indeed, his speeches are full of "on the one hands" and "on the other hands" and rhetoric about "false choices" that, he argues, pit us against each other when there’s no need. We can all get along . . . but, for now, it seems we’ll have to do it through him. Even so, Obama can only keep this up, or seem to keep this up, in his speeches. When it comes to the reality test, the problem is that his balancing act doesn’t translate well into action. He’s just alternating the placating right now--and so running in place. Today he scratches the backs of the advocates of identity politics and winks at concerned whites . . . it’s o.k., she’s not really as bad as she seems. After all, she’s got my approval and look at who says she’s a racist . . . Newt Gingrich. Tomorrow, he will do a gimme to the other side, throw another hard-edged radical under the bus, and wink at the equally radical but less firm-footed. And this will work . . . for now.

But I begin to wonder how long this will last. Already, the cracks in his support on the left are beginning to widen. And the Sotomayor hearings may provide ample opportunity (if not stupidly handled) for conservatives to finally make a case against identity politics that accepts (and fairly explains) the blame conservatives have shared with liberals in escalating racial tension for political gain. The third way is to tell the truth about our history and our principles and make a solid case for embracing both. Barack Obama stops short in both instances and enjoys the fruits of playing this deceptive game.

Discussions - 10 Comments

The dirty little secret of American politics is that our spoiled and pampered "minorities" are unabashedly racist.

Much like the secret that the wealthy in America support the Democrats, this is somethng which neither political party is interested in calling to the publics attention. More than anything else it will lead to the death of the GOP.

deceptive game....Have you secrectly viewed the Obama Deception?

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Looking over the scotus blog today,

there seems to be some a marked difference between how Sotomayor actually has ruled, and how some of her more vehement critics interpret partial sentences out her comments.

for intance, on criminal matters she is to the right of Davo9d Souter, and is no friend of defense attorneys or the ACLU.


RE: racial discrimination cases she ruled 8 out of 9 times against the plaintiffs who were complaining of racial bias. She would seem to be no great ally to minorities seeking redress for racial discrimination-thats directly contrary to perceptions by many conservatives that she would favor non whites. But, in fact she has done exactly the opposite.

see: lts-from-the-full-data-set/

as for gun issues, again Sotomayors opinion is in complete harmony with the two most prominent conservative appellate court judges in the nation, frank Easterbrook, and Richard Posner of the 7th circuit court if appeals.

see 06/02/AR2009060203379.html

Even Rush has observed that her rulings are far more "moderate" than her speech,

For me, "Actions speak louder than words" especially misundertood words, or words jerked out of context.

And given that she has caused some deep angst among rabid pro-choicers when she upheld restrictions on "reproductive rights", is it unreasonable to speculate that perhaps Sonia Sotomayor could become Barack Obama's "david Souter"?

Beyond question, she is more moderate than the other women on the presidents short list: Diane Wood, Janet Napolitano, ad Elena Kagan and lesbian gay marriage and pro choice activist, Kathleen Sullivan.

Lets also remebr that whne the republicans forced Bill Clinton's first two farily moderate picks for Attorney General to withdraw, they got Janet Reno. The third time was the charm for GOP stupidity, and stubborness.

Knock too long and too hard and the devil answers the door.

Lets not make the same mistake again. Sotomayor is not that liberal , and may have hidden prolife sentiments.

We could to much worse, given who will make the next nomination, should inthe unlikley event, this one fails.

An example of that unabashed racism minorities hold against John M and his kinfolk.

Matt, John M.'s comment is stupidly worded and it's not very thoughtful or self-critical (which is why I didn't even bother to respond to it) but I have to say that even it rings more true than that thing to which you linked and your silly and flippant comment that accompanied your link . . . to say nothing of the even more inane comment underneath the picture in the link. I don't agree that there is a "dirty little secret" of minority racism that is widespread and rampant in this country any more than I agree that there is an open "secret" of general racism. It's true that there are racists on all sides. But, as the two of you seem more than capable of demonstrating, there's probably more unthinking incivility on all sides than anything else.

Why are you posting on a blog if you are not interested in flippant comments with accompanying links? You are probably in the wrong place if you are really looking for any kind of "thinking civility".

I guess perhaps I'm guilty of thinking you might stretch for more, Matt.

Nah - that only happens in person or in my academic writing/teaching. Should we ever meet, we can stretch for it together in real-time.

I opine that to receive the mortgage loans from creditors you must have a firm motivation. But, one time I have got a commercial loan, just because I was willing to buy a car.

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