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Shelby Steele calls the Sotomayor selection "a crude form of racial patronage." Ta-Nehisi shakes his head. Adam Serwer joins him:

What in Sotomayor's judicial record--which Steele hasn't looked at--justifies such a description? Why the infamous Frank Ricci case, in which Sotomayor upheld the law based on precedent, except conservatives didn't like the precedent. Never mind that several Hispanic firefighters were also denied promotion in that case--Steele deals in racial tarot card reading, not facts. ... Sotomayor, a nominee with more time on the federal bench than anyone else currently on the Supreme Court at the time they were nominated, is elevated "more for the political currency of [her] gender and ethnicity than for [her] individual merit." ... It should be noted at this moment that Shelby Steele was terribly impressed with Michael Steele who we know was chosen as head of the RNC only because of his record of success in Maryland.

I must say that, to my mind, Steele has a point. It isn't the judicial rulings that trouble me so much as her non-judicial opinions and mindset. The constant, oppressive consciousness of her identity - racial and gender - and the harping on it so aggressively so often does strike me as a classic mode of victimology deeply entrenched in her generation. I don't think it's disqualifying and I don't see any crude racialism in her rulings, but I do think it shows that for Obama, this kind of racial/ethnic view of the world is so endemic it's invisible to him. And it's off-message for his candidacy and life. But, hey, maybe he feels Scalia needs to get as good as he gives.

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