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Sotomayor Derangement Syndrome

Message William Rivers Pitt
They called it Bush Derangement Syndrome for eight years: the condition of being berserk with rage, hatred and fear over the acts and actions - nay, even the very existence - of George W. Bush and his administration.

After last November, it became known as Obama Derangement Syndrome; symptoms included an obsession with birth certificates, a sudden ersatz sense of expertise on the intricacies of modern socialism and a general tendency to agree with anyone who disagrees with President Obama no matter how demented that opinion may be.

Last week, the malady mutated into a whole new thing - Sotomayor Derangement Syndrome - and boy, but it's a doozy. Ranting incoherence, brazen racism and suicidal ideation swept through the ranks of the far right after Judge Sotomayor was nominated to replace Justice Souter on the high court, symptoms that became worse by orders of magnitude as the week wore on. By the weekend, those suffering from Sotomayor Derangement Syndrome had not only struck the bottom of the barrel in their attempts to tear the Sotomayor nomination down, but had plowed right through the wood and burrowed deep into the slime and ooze beneath.

Among the most egregious examples was none other than G. Gordon Liddy, a man nobody had really listened to since his felony crime spree in Washington, DC, made him the subject of banner headlines in the waning months of the Nixon administration. During his Thursday radio broadcast, Liddy began his assault on Sotomayor along the oft-repeated "she's-a-racist" tack popularized by Liddy's right-wing brethren last week. "I understand that they found out today that Miss Sotomayor is a member of La Raza," fumed Liddy, "which means in illegal alien, 'the race.' And that should not surprise anyone because she's already on record with a number of racist comments."

Not content to keep his comments at this particularly heady level of stupid, Liddy forged onwards and downwards. "Let's hope that the key conferences aren't when she's menstruating or something," said Liddy, "or just before she's going to menstruate. That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then." Unless Mr. Liddy was hatched out of some Monster Idiot condor egg somewhere, he has or had a mother at some point in his life. One hopes the good Mrs. Liddy, if she still lives, will take a moment to slap her sick-minded son across the mouth for denigrating her gender in such adolescent and obnoxious terms.

Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich wasn't shy about going the extra idiotic mile last week regarding Judge Sotomayor. On Friday, Gingrich sent out a fundraising letter restating his earlier accusations that Sotomayor was a racist, and then went next-level with his rhetoric.

If Civil War, suffrage, and Civil Rights are to mean anything, we cannot accept that conclusion. It is simply un-American. There is no room on the bench of the United States Supreme Court for this worldview. The checks and balances between the three branches of government are designed to prevent any small faction of society from exerting undue influence over the rest of us. If President Obama will not withdraw his nomination, then the Senate has a duty to ensure that judges with who hold these beliefs are not confirmed to serve on the Supreme Court.

Concerns about Sotomayor's activist view of the law grew so great that, despite the fact that President George H.W. Bush appointed her to the district court in 1991, 29 United States Senators voted against her nomination to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in 1998. THIS time ... she shouldn't even get a vote, and should be withdrawn from consideration. It's just not right - every American should expect that their sons and daughters from every background can rise by applying the work ethic under equal protection under the law.

Your background should NEVER impact the application of law under the U.S. Constitution. It should not be a consideration by the judge or an expected consideration by the judged. Decisions made by the highest court in the land should be made on the basis of what is right and wrong - not who is right and who is wrong!

Civil war, suffrage, civil rights, un-American ... wha? Oh, wait, that's right, this was a fundraising letter, which means it doesn't have to make sense. With this letter, Gingrich is seeking to raise money from the same subsegment of the GOP base that vacuums up change from between the couch cushions and sends it to the RNC whenever they get a direct mailer warning about evil immigrant hordes conspiring with Hillary Clinton to abort all Christian fetuses, or something to that effect. Gingrich will turn a nifty profit with this letter, even if it is all nickels, and use the funds to position himself further as the far-right's darling candidate for the 2012 presidential election. Sense? Meh. There's money to be made.

Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and the other leading lights of right-wing demagoguery raised a similar-sounding ruckus. Limbaugh went so far as to compare Sotomayor to disgraced racist Republican David Duke - a strange comparison, as this would normally be a reason for Limbaugh to support Sotomayor - and all of a sudden, many so-called "responsible" members of the GOP suddenly found themselves rushing to contain the damage.

"Republican leaders scrambled yesterday to contain some of the more incendiary and racially tinged remarks that have been aimed at the judge," reported The Washington Post on Friday, "fearing that continued personal attacks on Sotomayor could severely damage the GOP's appeal to women and Hispanics. Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said he was 'uneasy' with some of the remarks and urged Republicans to focus on her legal record."

"After a week of escalating race and gender rhetoric from the right over the Sotomayor nomination, it's now looking like some in the Republican Party - those concerned with actually getting elected - have become alarmed by the political damage the more extreme members of their party may be doing and are moving to rein in the vitriol," reported Eric Kleefield of Talking Points Memo on Friday. "It's the starkest example yet of an interesting division within the right, one that has been apparent for some time, but which the Sotomayor nomination has not only crystallized but accelerated: the right-wing bomb-throwers obsessed with ideological purity versus the right-wing pragmatists who want the party to actually win election again some day."

By the end of last weekend, Sotomayor Derangement Syndrome had blown this rift within the GOP wide open. Establishment conservatives are now directly pitted against the vocal ideologues on their right flank and a GOP base that seems to be avidly listening to them. For a party already traumatized by arguments over immigration, two decisive routs in a row at the polls, and an absolute absence of any real leadership, the advent of this newest intra-party bloodbath is the worst possible situation.

Stay tuned.

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William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.
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