If Mark Krikorian and the new conventional wisdom are right, and nominating one “Nuyorican” woman (who, as Jonah noted earlier, is not even properly the child of immigrants, as Puerto Ricans are citizens) is all it takes to allow the White House to delay indefinitely the messy, no-win issue of amnesty for 10 million illegal aliens, mostly of Hispanic origin, few of Princeton/Yale education — that is a strategy that should not be subjected to too much conservative scrutiny. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, as the saying goes. The less talented you think Sonia Sotomayor is, the easier a trade this should be.
If it works, the White House should consider other applications. Everyone suspects that President Obama has been fibbing about his sympathies in the gay-marriage debate (he supported it before he opposed it) because he understands the potential political fallout (not least among black voters) from advocating, or helping to advance, same-sex marriage. Gay activists are coming to suspect that they’ve been played, yet again, by a Democratic administration which they believed to be sympathetic. Can they be bought off with a SCOTUS appointment? Would the nominee have to be out? Perhaps a genuinely brilliant, prominent lesbian constitutional law scholar would be a reasonable sop. There is one on the short lists. For conservatives, of course, that is a dicier deal than the Sotomayor tradeoff — since a genuinely brilliant constitutional scholar might advance the left-wing agenda a little too effectively.
Did I say, “if it works”? We know this strategy works — at least with the rank and file. Case in point: President Obama regularly makes plain his disdain for Israel’s democratically elected leaders; his almost visceral desire to force Israel to bend to his vision of an accommodation with the Palestinians; and his clear indifference to Israel’s existential security from threats of nuclear annihilation. Yet large numbers of liberal American Jews, who in many respects are quite intelligent, continue to point to Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod — two high-level political advisor/enforcers lacking in tenure or the ability to make law or interpret the constitution (not yet a redundant statement) — and smile about how much they love the president and believe that he loves them back.
My kingdom for a horse? My huge, game-changing cultural issue for a seat on the court? The Obama version of “triangulation”? Whatever.