Earlier today, The Plum Line’s Greg Sargent flagged RNC Chairman Michael Steele saying on Bill Bennett’s radio show this morning that conservatives should avoid making personal attacks on Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Rather than “slammin’ and rammin’” her, “move on to the substance of the conversation about what this woman believes, why she believes it,” said Steele. Listen here:
Despite Steele’s current attempt to focus the debate on Sotomayor’s judicial philosophy, just two weeks ago he had no problem engaging. While hosting Bennett’s radio show, Steele described Sotomayor as “not a bell ringer” and “rather abrasive”:
STEELE: But the next justice nominee will be a female and I bet you a donut and a dime it will be hispanic. But, which case, that would be Ms. Sotomayor. But the problem with someone like her is, you know, while her story is compelling and all of that. Moving from the projects and you know, going to some of the best schools in the country and then to the federal bench. She’s not, she’s not a bell ringer. She’s not one of these justices who’s really kind of distinguished herself and made a name for herself on the Appeals court. And I think that that, you know, is something worth noting and looking at since, you know, gee that was a standard they put up against those Republican nominees. So I figure the standard should apply here as well. But they also, you know, the word on the street is that she is rather abrasive. And that’s the one thing the Supreme Court is not. Is a place for abrasive personalities.
It’s ironic that during his May 8th appearance on Bennett’s show, Steele justified his personal attacks on Sotomayor by saying “that was a standard they put up against those Republican nominees. So I figure the standard should apply here as well.” As Sargent points out, Steele argued today that “we don’t need to play this the way the Democrats have played it in the past.”
Additionally, Steele claimed back then that Sotomayor had not “distinguished herself and made a name for herself on the Appeals court.” But conservative law professor Eric Posner examined the data of Sotomayor’s record and found that she “may well be one of the top appellate judges in the country.”