POLITICS
06/01/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Mark Halperin On Souter Replacement: "White Men Need Not Apply"

With the announcement that Justice David Souter is planning on retiring from the Supreme Court to return to New Hampshire, President Barack Obama now has a momentous decision to make. But more importantly, the media has a SHINY NEW THING to get crazyfaced about, so it's time to CRY HAVOC and let slip the dogs of banality! Leading the pack, as usual, is Time Magazine internet ad pimp Mark Halperin, who frames the matter thusly:

I really couldn't put it better! Will Barack Obama do anything about the historical barrier to entry that has always stood in the way of white people who just want to serve on the highest court in the land? Just look at the picture Halperin found, of a pensive and expectant white dude from post-racial stock photo company istockphoto.com. Who's going to be that guy's Jackie Robinson? Besides David Souter, I mean?

Let's commence our "to be fair" paragraph by stipulating that Halperin, in actuality, is probably noting the possibility that Obama might choose to "play politics" with this pick, as opposed to Halperin attempting to make a judgment on the relative Caucasianness of rumored-to-be-on-the-shortlist Seth Waxman. Of course, this rather harsh tone Halperin is taking, toward the playing of politics, is unusual among the Beltway chatterers. When a President actively searches out the youngest possible SCOTUS picks, solely for the purpose of locking down an ideologue for the longest possible period of time, folks like Halperin clap and offer, "Huzzah, good sir, on the prowess you have demonstrated upon the field of politics this eventide!"

I know it seems just so terribly unlikely, but there remains an outside chance that someone like a Sonia Sotomayor might actually be a great candidate on the merits. Don't expect that notion to get probed too deeply, though! Halperin's already laid down his marker in terms of race and identity politics. And once Sotomayor gets tagged with the term "moderate," it'll be a repeat of The Great Veep Shortlist Panic of 2008 all over again in parts of the progressive blogosphere. And other people will just show up, and say incredibly dumb things about the process, like the Politico's Eamon Javers, who today made a game attempt to WIN THE MORNING on MSNBC through analysis:

JAVERS: Sonia Sotomayor is the one who's on the top of everybody's list at this point because she's from New York, Hispanic, got an interesting background having grown up, I guess, in the Bronx. She sort of relates to Obama in many ways.

Of course! Who better to relate to a New York-born Hispanic woman who grew up in the Bronx than a Hawaiian-born biracial guy who grew up in Honolulu? Maybe Javers will be able to answer that better once he nails down the guesswork involved in where Sotomayor grew up! Nevertheless, this is a pretty powerful indication of the high quality conversation we'll be having about the Supreme Court.

By the way, I'll answer Halperin's "eleven real Supreme Court nomination questions" so you don't have to. The answers are: yes, yes, no, yes, yes, no (Specter never holds his tongue, Ben Nelson probably eats sand with it), WTF?, they'll try but not succeed, Rahm, Plouffe, and, "Mark, just admit you could only come up with ten questions, Jesus."

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