Day 2: Sotomayor Gets a 'C' ...

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Jul 14, 2009 9:25 PM
I haven't been live blogging, which has allowed me to sort of take in the hearings without having to produce immediate analysis or content.

Having said that, we've had two full days, and I think this is a good time to pause and take a look at where things are.

First, I think Sotomayor has said what she needed to say.  In fact, at times she has sounded almost conservative.  For example, though she was evasive on the 2nd Amendment, but also said she recognizes it as an "individual right."  To be sure, her answers were full of legalese and sophistry, but it got her through the tough spots.

Unfortunately, for her, Republicans have done a good job of demonstrating that her statements these last two days are quite different from her past statements.  There has been no knockout punch, but they do seem to be slowly grinding away at her credibility.

In fact, the inconsistencies are becoming glaring.  For example, today she noted that the 'Wise Latina' comment was a "rhetorical flourish" that "fell flat" -- but if it fell flat, why did she repeat the line in so many speeches?  Again, this is a minor point, but it speaks to her credibility.

Still, she hasn't had the 'meltdown' that Senator Graham warned about, and so her adequate performance has been good enough to earn her a passing grade, meaning nothing that has happened so far would be enough to cost her the confirmation.

... But the thing that I'm most impressed with is how Republicans have been able to ask very tough questions while simultaneously doing so in a respectful manner. 

There has been no video -- so far -- of a mean old Senate Republican browbeating poor Sotomayor.  (If there were, you can bet it would be the lead on every cable news show for a week).  Instead, the most repeated Republican lines have been Sen. Lindsay Graham's comments that "barring a meltdown," she would be confirmed -- and that he might just vote for her. 

Despite that concession, however, he still managed to ask some tough questions -- and make some very good points.  As Jillian and Greg noted, Graham made a very good point that he couldn't have gotten away with a 'wise Latina' quote.  Sotomayor seemed to agree.