1)Harrogate is deeply annoyed and saddened by how eagerly, thoroughly, and uncritically, everybody--beginning with Barack Obama himself---has cheerled Sotomayor's "bootstrap" credentials. The following opinion may annoy some of Harrogate's fellow Board Members at TRS, but Harrogate thinks that all this stuff about a girl from the Bronx in a single parent home making good through hard work is nothing but another manifestation of one of the most destructive American myths that we have. Almost invariably, the "bootstrap narrative" implicitly asserts that the working poor and the underclass in this country owe their plight to laziness, or some other personal shortcoming. Think of the "welfare queen" model that Reagan traded in so brilliantly.
In other words, the following formulation once again is given creds: "Oh, Look!!!! Sotomayor did it! Why can't the rest of you lazy asses do it too?" Praising hard work and talent is not a problem in itself. But the "bootstrap narrative" has been done, quite literally Harrogate would argue, to death.
2)Obama's (and Sotomayor's) rhetoric of "empathy," on this score, is much better indeed, than the bootstrap narrative. That such an idea as empathy for the less fortunate is rare indeed to our politics has been evidenced by the conniptions we have seen the Right, as well as the Media, go into over the Word and the Idea it Signifies.
3)After someone can start showing us some (not just an exception, but SOME) instances where Scalia and Thomas and Roberts and Ginsburg and Breyer, to name five of some 107, have flouted the ideological expectations that come with them as conservatives and liberals respectively: THEN Harrogate will be a little more sympathetic to the Right's current anti-Sotomayor argument that Impartiality is supposed to be more than just an aspiration.
The Right has been screaming that judges are supposed to apply the law blindly, and leave their politics at the door. But the assumption of course is that Conservatives are always correct in their interpretation and desired application of the Law.
Hmmmm. Maybe Kennedy's and O'Connor's records as "swing judges" better suit the criteria of a judge being willing to flout his or her own political views, in the name of legal impartiality. But those judges are not respected by the Right, nearly so much as Scalia, who is ideologically consistent.
Opponents of Sotomayor and more broadly of Obama. Ask thyselves, then: Are ye really mad at the idea of political sensibilities affecting judges? Or only mad at the idea of LIBERAL sensibilities affecting judges.
4)Her confirmation process is going to be ugly and what is worse, totally unartistic.
The GOP will attack awkwardly (not wanting to come off as racists or sexists), and the Dems will defend awkwardly (not wanting to come off as understanding that the idea of judicial impartiality, like impartiality in any other area of human existence, is indeed only an aspiration).