John Cornyn’s short memory

JOHN CORNYN’S SHORT MEMORY…. Sen. John Cornyn (R) of Texas has been watching the debate over Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination, and he’s drawn an odd conclusion about the role of racial politics.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has accused the Democrats of using race as a wedge issue in the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation process — that is, the Dems have been “giving cover to groups and individuals to nurture racial grievances for political advantage.”

Cornyn was responding to statements from Harry Reid and other Democrats, that the GOP’s opposition to Sotomayor will hurt them among Latino voters.

“I don’t think it influences people’s votes, but what it does encourage is a very poisonous — indeed a very toxic — tone of destructive politics,” said Cornyn. “They ought to be ashamed of themselves.”

Just to be clear, when Cornyn says “they” out to be “ashamed,” he’s referring to Democratic officials.

Funny, I’ve been watching the same process, and I’m fairly certain Cornyn has it backwards. In fact, I seem to recall a high-profile Republican senator — I believe his name was John Cornyn of Texas — who went on NRP in May to distance his party from ugly, race-based attacks against Sotomayor at the hands of Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh. At the time, Cornyn said, “I just don’t think it’s appropriate. I certainly don’t endorse it. I think it’s wrong.”

As the debate progressed, the “poisonous” and “destructive” political atmosphere got far worse. If Cornyn can’t recall, I’m sure someone on his staff could pull together quite a quote collection from Gingrich, Limbaugh, Rove, Tancredo, Barnes, Liddy, and Pat Buchanan. It reached the point in late May that “top-ranking Republican strategists who specialize in Hispanic outreach say they are outraged, disturbed and concerned by the type of reception Barack Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court has received from conservative activists.”

Cornyn thinks Harry Reid and the Democratic leadership “ought to be ashamed of themselves”? Cornyn thinks Dems have used a “toxic tone”? Please.

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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.