Last week, while guest-hosting Bill Bennett’s radio show, RNC Chairman Michael Steele urged Republicans to stop “slammin’ and rammin‘” Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor with personal attacks. Instead, Steele argued that conservatives should “move on to the substance of the conversation about what this woman believes, why she believes it.”
But just one week later, while hosting the same show, Steele couldn’t help but paint Sotomayor as a racist. “God help you if you’re a white male coming before her bench,” declared Steele before agreeing with a caller who who wanted the GOP to raise questions about her “character”:
STEELE: And apparently, the comments that she made that have been played up about, you know, the Latina woman being a better judge than the white male is something that she has said on numerous occasions. So this was not just the one and only time it was said. They’ve now found other evidences and other speeches, Trip, that she has made mention of this, this fact that her ethnicity, that her cultural background puts her in a different position as a judge to judge your case.
STEELE: And God help you if you’re a white male coming before her bench.
TRIP: Why don’t we focus on the content of her character?
STEELE: Well, you got that right. You got that right. Thanks Trip for the call.
The disconnect between Steele’s rhetoric last week and his comments this week shouldn’t come as a surprise. Yesterday, the Hill reported that while GOP leaders are cautioning against harsh rhetoric in public, behind the scenes they are encouraging activists to keep it up.
Additionally, Steele’s fearmongering about Sotomayor treating “white males” differently in the courtroom has no basis in fact. A recent study of Sotomayor’s race-related opinions by SCOTUSblog’s Tom Goldstein found that Sotomayor had “rejected discrimination-related claims by a margin of roughly 8 to 1.” “Given that record, it seems absurd to say that Judge Sotomayor allows race to infect her decisionmaking,” concluded Goldstein.