WaPo's Cillizza Claims Sotomayor Gives GOP A Winning Election Issue

06/28/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Chris Cillizza, writing for the Washington Post, believes that he has discovered the pony for Republicans in opposing the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor:

Given the difficulties inherent in an all out attempt to block Sotomayor, is this nomination already a lost cause for Republicans? Not by a long shot.

If the ultimate goal for Republicans is to defeat Obama in 2012, then the Sotomayor pick presents them with a golden opportunity to cast the president as a traditional liberal -- far from the post-partisan figure he was able to present to the American public in the 2008 election.

Matt Yglesias calls this contention "a big stretch," and I just could not agree more. As Matt and Nate Silver point out, the successful confirmation of Supreme Court justices does not traditionally cause ripples within the electorate. But more to the point, it's just absurd to suggest that it's Sonia Sotomayor that gives the GOP -- at last! -- a chance to paint Obama as a liberal. They've been doing that all along. I seem to recall, for example, that Obama's been termed a "socialist." Maybe I've missed something.

In truth, the GOP has the same problem today that they did during the election: they must jump-start their own support while attempting to depress Obama's. So, they'll fire up their own base by pointing out how Obama's the "most liberal" at something (during the run-up to Obama's uneventful appearance at Notre Dame, for example, it was often said that Obama was the most radically pro-abortion president in history), while simultaneously suggesting that Obama's nothing more than a clone of Bush (the Bill Kristols of the world are fond of pointing out instances where Obama breaks with/angers/disappoints the "left-wing" of the party -- military commissions and the release of detainee photos have been recent examples).

But let me just demystify this nonsense for you. Yes, the idea of "post-partisanship" was a concept that Obama campaign put out during the 2008 campaign, and one they suggested would define their governing philosophy. Even still, in 2012, there will be nobody -- outside of the Beltway class of pundits, journalists, and political insiders -- who will be at all interested in assessing how "post-partisan" the Obama administration is or was, or holding them accountable for it. How do you think a normal person would react if asked, "Do think the Obama administration was successfully post-partisan?" My guess is that a normal person would give their interlocutor a strange look, and go right on persisting in their belief that the entirety of the political press corps is made up of idiots from Mars.

Fundamentally, "post-partisanship" is a nonsense word that the media is obsessed with, and the actual human beings that will decide the election will more likely base their decision on whether or not the economy has become a bigger or smaller crap sandwich. The end.

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