The Flip Side

Yesterday I wrote about how the White House had gotten an early edge on Republicans by nominating someone for the U.S. Supreme Court during a Congressional break week.

The logical second day story would have been a quick visit by the new nominee to Capitol Hill - but Democrats didn't have any Senators in town on Wednesday, just like Republicans weren't there on Tuesday.

So, instead of a second day story on a sit down with Senators, the White House put Judge Sotomayor on the phone with the Majority and Minority Leaders and the top two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But phone calls don't produce any pictures or very much buzz, and because of that lack of "action," critics of the Sonia Sotomayor nomination got to elbow their way into the story instead on Wednesday.

At the top of the list was former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who used Twitter to grab some headlines, writing about a quote from Sotomayor that I recounted in another blog this morning:

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life," Sotomayor said back in a 2001 speech.

For Gingrich, it was nothing but reverse racism.

"White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw," Gingrich wrote, getting out front of anyone in the Senate on the Republican side.

For a second straight day at the White House briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs found himself playing defense about that Sotomayor quote, as he did his best to sidestep the issue while simultaneously ripping those who were calling on Judge Sotomayor to resign.

"Looking at the record isn't spinning," said Gibbs with a chuckle, as he urged reporters to read more than just quotes and snippets from You Tube, where some of Sotomayor's statements have been aired.

"I'm not spinning what she said," Gibbs said with a lilt in his voice not unlike that of a little kid who is trying to convince his mother that he didn't club his little sister over the head while no one was looking.

I will again say that this is an important time in this debate, because both sides are most certainly trying to frame it on their terms.

That quote, when combined with her ruling on the New Haven firefighter promotion case can't be shrugged off.

While affirmative action might not be a flash point in US politics like it once was, reverse discrimination in this case might light up the scoreboard more than most people realize.

How the issue is handled in coming days will be very important to this nomination.

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