Sotomayor isn’t delivering for the right

SOTOMAYOR ISN’T DELIVERING FOR THE RIGHT…. With the Senate Democratic caucus enjoying a sizable majority, even some of the administration’s staunchest critics realized from the outset that Sonia Sotomayor was very likely to be confirmed to the Supreme Court. The goal, conservatives thought, was to use the nomination to bolster their larger goals.

If the right could effectively demonize Sotomayor, conservative groups could, for example, see a boost in fundraising, and a newly energized far-right base. Having the first real fight over a Democratic president’s high court nominee in four decades could, the idea went, be a shot in the arm to the conservative movement and Republican activists.

A month later, how’s that working out? Not particularly well.

Nearly a month after President Barack Obama picked her for the Supreme Court, Republican senators say Sonia Sotomayor isn’t serving as the political lightning rod some in their party had hoped she would be.

“She doesn’t have the punch out there in terms of fundraising and recruiting, I think — at least so far,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who most likely will be elected as the No. 4 Republican in Senate leadership this week.

The calculus could certainly change when Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings begin July 13. But the Republican senators’ initial review of Sotomayor’s record, together with the meetings they’ve had with her, have left them doubting that she’ll be controversial enough to help them or hurt the Democrats heading into the 2010 elections.

Part of this, I imagine, is the result of other news stories overpowering the nomination for media attention. Developments surrounding Sotomayor’s nomination were quickly bumped from the front page in light of unrest in Iran, negotiations over health care reform, etc.

But more important is the fact that Sotomayor is an extremely well qualified, experienced, mainstream judge who deserves to be confirmed. The right hasn’t been successful in exploiting this nomination because there’s just not much to exploit.