Robert Gibbs warns the GOP to “be careful” of the way they talk about Sotomayor

Check out this exchange from today’s WH press briefing with Robert Gibbs on the issue of Newt Gingrich describing Sotomayor as a “Latina woman racist”:

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs issued a pointed warning to opponents of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination Wednesday, urging critics to measure their words carefully during a politically charged confirmation debate.

“I think it is probably important for anybody involved in this debate to be exceedingly careful with the way in which they’ve decided to describe different aspects of this impending confirmation,” Gibbs said.

He was replying to a question from CBS’s Chip Reid about a blog post by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich accusing Sotomayor of imposing identity politics on the bench and declaring: “A white man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. A Latina woman racist should also withdraw.”

“I think we’re satisfied that, when the people of America and the people of the Senate get a chance to look at more than just the blog of a former lawmaker… they’ll come to the same conclusion that the president did” about Sotomayor’s qualifications, Gibbs replied.

Yeah – and those “qualifications” were, again? That she was a Latina.

Here’s the video:

This is all part of a coordinated plan by the WH to put Republicans in a position where they’re screwed no matter what they say – or don’t:

President Obama had been “very interested” in her from the start, said one top adviser, and almost immediately, his political advisers–led by Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel–urged him to make history by tapping the first Hispanic justice.

The selection of Sotomayor, they argued, would energize a key and growing constituency, which could well be disappointed in coming months by expected failures to get meaningful immigration reform.


But as the contenders over the weekend worked furiously on the Senate questionnaire, sources close to the process said there was steady and growing momentum for Sotomayor.

There also was a slightly different political argument. Advisers calculated she would be the savviest move for the President to avoid an all-out battle over his Court nominee, according to sources close to the process.

With the president hoping to achieve a crowning accomplishment in his first year with health care reform, advisers pointedly warned against another big fight elsewhere, sources said.

As the first Hispanic nominee, with a compelling life story and rich judicial experience, Sotomayor would be hardest for Republicans to oppose, they argued, and therefore easiest for Obama to get confirmed.

The name of the game is identity politics, and trying to either stifle (via fear of backlash) legitimate debate over whether or not a nominee deserves a lifetime appointment to the SCOTUS. But the administration also knows that there will be plenty who are not afraid to dissent (like Newt, for example), and for the admin it’s all about trying to frame their criticisms as “racist and sexist” – and it’s done in order to 1) get an ideologue on the court and 2) win over a key voting bloc. So no matter what Republicans do, it’s hard to see where they can achieve even a “moral” victory on this one. This is pure politics, because Sotomayor won’t need the support of Republicans to be confirmed, anyway.

This administration truly has no shame.

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