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Pat Leahy, Race-Baiter

1:11 PM, Jul 19, 2009 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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Patrick Leahy, perhaps the most partisan member of the US Senate, scolded Republicans this morning for racist attacks on Sonia Sotomayor. The fact that there weren't any didn't stop him. Rather than focus on what happened during the hearings, he worried about hypothetical attacks during some confirmation hearings in the future. "I hope we don't go back to the day when we used to see African-Americans up for confirmation and say yes, but you belong to the NAACP so we're really suspicious of you," he said. "Come on, stop the racial politics."

Republicans did press Sonia Sotomayor about her claims that a "wise Latina woman" would make a better decisions that white males. But given the racialist nature of her remarks -- and the fact that she made them repeatedly, and in prepared speeches -- their questioning was hardly rigorous.

And who, exactly, was practicing racial politics? Patrick Leahy.

The Vermont Senator had been "giddy" about the Republicans' difficult task in questioning a Hispanic woman, according to someone who heard Leahy talking about the hearings before they began. But while several Republicans pressed her to answer their questions, no one came close to hectoring the nominee. And several Democrats, including hyper-partisan Chuck Schumer, commended Republicans for their civility.

Not Leahy. Every time he had an opportunity to poke a Republican, he took it.

After Texas Senator John Cornyn finished questioning Sotomayor, Leahy had this to say.

"Thank you. Thank you very much.

I would note in the record -- will put in the record a letter of support for Judge Sotomayor's nomination from the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on behalf of its 3 million Hispanic-owned business members, 60 undersigned organizations, including the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Odessa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and a similar letter from the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce."