SHREWD MOVE

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - / Bruce Tins­ley

“I have given some rea­sons ... why So­nia So­tomayor might be an es­pe­cially con­tro­ver­sial pick with con­ser­va­tives and some centr ists — not to men­tion yours truly,” Stu­art Tay­lor Jr. wr ites at www.na­tion­aljour­nal.com.

“So what po­lit­i­cal cal­cu­la­tion might un­der­lie Pres­i­dent Obama’s de­ci­sion to nom­i­nate her any­way, de­spite his var­i­ous sug­ges­tions that he would like to make a con­sen­sus pick?” Mr. Tay­lor asked.

“It’s pos­si­ble that Obama was sim­ply wowed by her up-from­mod­est-cir­cum­stances life story, her sup­posed ‘em­pa­thy’ for the poor and pow­er­less, her summa cum laude per­for­mance at Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity, her ju­di­cial opin­ions on ob­scure sub­jects or her per­for­mance when Obama in­ter­viewed her.

“But the po­lit­i­cal pay­off of nam­ing the first His­panic jus­tice — and a woman to boot — seems to me the key. This is a shrewd nom­i­na­tion po­lit­i­cally, if not nec­es­sar­ily a good one ju­rispru­den­tially, and not only be­cause of the ob­vi­ous pay­off with His­panic vot­ers.

“The choice of So­tomayor also puts Repub­li­cans and moderate Democrats who may be deeply un­happy with her ju­rispru­dence in a lose-lose po­si­tion, and Obama in a win-win po­si­tion.

“If Repub­li­cans at­tack Judge So­tomayor’s more con­tro­ver­sial ac­tions, they risk pro­vok­ing a back­lash among His­panic vot­ers, who have al­ready been mov­ing into the Demo­cratic col­umn in droves.

“On the other hand, if Repub­li­cans hold their fire to avoid of­fend­ing His­panic vot­ers, the pres­i­dent gets the ben­e­fit of in­stalling a jus­tice who seems deep into Demo­cratic iden­tity pol­i­tics without the cost of an es­pe­cially con­tentious con­fir­ma­tion bat­tle.” make en­trenched law­mak­ers an of­fer: Ei­ther work with him on bud­get and gov­ern­ment re­form so every­one can have a nice bi­par­ti­san bill-sign­ing, or ex­pect a knock­out fight at the polls over a set of bal­lot ini­tia­tives.

“Had he done so, he might have got­ten some of the good ideas that the state needs — such as set­ting up a se­ri­ous rainy-day fund and cre­at­ing an hon­est spending cap — en­acted into law. ...

“In­stead of re­form, the man who promised to ‘blow up the boxes’ of gov­ern­ment nearly six years ago em­barked on a cru­sade to save the planet in an at­tempt to win re-elec­tion in 2006. If Arnold’s po­lit­i­cal obituary were to be writ­ten to­day, its nar- ra­tive would turn on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues, such as so­lar roof pan­els, hy­dro­gen cars and curb­ing emis­sions. Miss­ing would be the is­sues that got him elected in the first place — tax cuts, fis­cal dis­ci­pline and restor ing dig­nity to Sacra­mento. The gov­er­nor didn’t blow up the boxes. He just af­fixed ‘re­cy­cle’ la­bels to them.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Where he went wrong: Cal­i­for­nia Gov. Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger

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