Inhofe drops the pretense

INHOFE DROPS THE PRETENSE…. The same day Sonia Sotomayor was nominated by the president, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) issued a statement that argued, without a shred of evidence, that the judge’s ability “to rule fairly without undue influence from her own personal race, gender, or political preferences” is in doubt.

In other words, Inhofe was unlikely to ever treat Sotomayor fairly. But I foolishly expected him to show more class than this.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) is dead set on voting against Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination. In fact, he’s so certain of his position that he refuses to even meet with her.

Sotomayor has been meeting privately with Senators over the last few weeks, but when it was Inhofe’s turn, he declined.

Inhofe’s spokesman explained that since the Senator has already decided to vote against the nomination, there’s no reason to waste time on a sit-down discussion.

Given the decorum of the Senate, members usually try to maintain the appearance of dignity. In the case of evaluating a judicial nominee, senators are generally inclined to say they’re “open minded” and willing to consider the would-be judge’s background on the merits.

Inhofe, without looking at Sotomayor’s rulings, without evaluating her career, without even speaking to her, has made up his mind.

What’s more, Inhofe said he voted against Sotomayor 11 years ago, so he feels comfortable reflexively rejecting her nomination now. He called his opposition a “foregone conclusion.”

It’s worth noting just how little sense this makes. Inhofe voted against Sotomayor in 1998, convinced she would be a bad judge. But now he has a chance to see if he was right or wrong, scrutinizing her record and analyzing her career on the bench. He can see whether Sotomayor met or exceeded his expectations, and reverse course if confronted with new evidence.

Instead of doing that, Inhofe has decided to effectively stick his fingers in his ears and shout, “La la la, I can’t hear you!”

What an embarrassment.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.