MSNBC's Maddow: Sotomayor Is, Isn't An Affirmative Action Nominee

Norah O'Donnell and Rachel Maddow can't seem to make up their minds. In the same segment, Maddow argues - and O'Donnell fails to question - that Judge Sonia Sotomayor was not picked as an affirmative-action nominee, and follows with the mystifying non-sequitur that opposing "the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice" would be politically damaging for the Republican party.

O’Donnell was interviewing Rachel Maddow (normally exiled to the prime-time wing-nut section of MSNBC programming, Maddow instead made an appearance just after three PM on Tuesday), and immediately served up a steaming dish of Rush Limbaugh controversy.  In keeping with the liberal myth of Republican racism, Maddow immediately pounced:
O’DONNELL: And of course Rachel, I think what Rush Limbaugh is referring to is something that the judge said back in 2001 where she said this, quote, ‘I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experience, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male, who hasn’t lived that life.’ Is that going to be a controversial statement that she’s going to have to defend?

MADDOW: I think that she’s going to have to defend everything that Republicans choose to attack her on, that’s the nature of the adversarial process at this point.  In fact I think that it is, it’s rich to have Rush Limbaugh, he of Barack The Magic Negro fame, attacking people for being racists at this point.  I mean, certainly the attack on Sotomayor, to the extend that it is based on her race, to the extent that the attacks on her are based on the idea that she was an affirmative action choice – I think that’s probably the weakest ammunition they’re going to have against her.  I mean you don’t get to be summa cum laude at Princeton on the basis of some sort of favoritism, you don’t get to be Phi Beta Kappa on the basis of somebody trying to do you a favor or trying to redress some past wrong.  So if they want to lead with attacking her on the basis of race and affirmative action, I think it means she’s going to have a pretty easy confirmation process. 
It is getting rather tiring, pointing out that the parody “Barack The Magic Negro” was, first, a parody, and that Bill Maher or Jon Stewart (pick your favorite) are often able to successfully hide behind the ‘I’m just a comedian’ shield.  Second, it was based on an article written by David Ehrenstein, a black film critic whose column was published in the Los Angeles Times.  Rush, it appears, is guilty of making a musical parody out of a black man’s quote.

The logical corkscrew, however, came only a few minutes later, when the two ladies began to talk about the ramifications any Republican opposition:
O’DONNELL: But on that very point, Rachel, about that Hispanic vote, I mean, whether some of these Republicans will feel, or perhaps will be concerned about blocking the first Hispanic justice to the Supreme Court.  Given how their party has done in the past three elections, I mean...George W. Bush in 2000 got 35% of the Hispanic vote, John McCain got less than that, 31%.  I mean, Barack Obama trounced him more than two to one when it came to Hispanics.  The Republican party is in a terrible state when it comes to courting Hispanics.  Do you think that some of these Republicans will look at those, they know those numbers, and think ‘maybe this is not a good idea to wage some war against a woman that’s going to be the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice?’

MADDOW: I think it’s going to be one of the most interesting things to watch here in terms of telling us about the future of the Republican party and internal Republican dynamics.  You saw some of the same calculations, I think, on the issue of how hard Republican politicians wanted to run on the issue of illegal immigration, with conservative groups in the base essentially demanding that they run hard against illegal immigration, either demonizing immigrants or essentially trying to make policy on that issue in response to this as if it were some great new crisis.  A lot of Republican politicians in the mainstream resisted that because of, in part, the electoral need to keep Hispanics at least somewhat inside the Republican fold. 
Wait there, just a hot second.  If she’s clearly qualified, and in no way represents a need for affirmative-action style political pandering, why are the MSNBC hosts concerned with the electoral consequence of this Supreme Court nomination?  If the fact that Sotomayor is a Latina has nothing to do with an affirmative-action mentality, why the fascination with the electoral effect of the first-ever Hispanic nominee?

Yogi, wherever he is, just became confused.