The American Dream is thus: anyone can go from hardscrabble luck to self-made success. We all love that story.
Well, in America, nothing is more hardscrabble than being a person of color in a disadvantaged neighborhood. So when somoene like Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's nominee for Supreme Court justice, steps into the spotlight, it's a wonderful moment for our nation. Yes, because the nominee is a Latina from the Bronx.
Am I wrong for assuming that anyone who gets this sort of endorsement from the president is mostly qualified for the job? Or should I be happy that the president, who has access to the most brilliant minds in the country, has chosen someone that a growing percentage of the population can relate to? If America is the model of representative government, why can't this Latino be proud that he's represented in the Supreme Court? Notice how I didn't say "finally represented" in that last sentence - it's not like I believe that just because there are millions of Latinos in this country that we have to put one of our own on the bench; but I do think it's great that a person of color - who would never have had a shot at this appointment 50 years ago - is in the running.
What's wrong with that? Don't Republicans play the race card when they prop up Louisiana governor Bobby Jindhal as the GOP's answer to Obama? Don't Republicans race bait when they run Spanish-language ads in Miami comparing Democrats to Communists? Let us have our moment, please - besides, there's no proof that Obama's pick is some left-of-center radical. In fact, if Judge Sotomayor grew up in a household like mine, she's probably as conservative as any other Republican - so give the woman a chance, Newt Gingrich.
Anyway, the issue here isn't whether Sonia Sotomayor is an unhinged liberal or a conservative blowhard. The issue here is that if Barack Obama were to come out and say "today is Thursday," Ann Coulter and the like would have to argue, for the sake of book deals and appearances on the Fox News Channel, that it's 9 hours since Wednesday but that's what happens when you elect a black president: he tries to dictate the movement of the cosmos. While I don't think our president has that super power (yet!) he certainly has the power to make bold statements with his nominee for our nation's highest court. He's made a terrific choice, one that is a major overture to Latinos who were on the fence about his own candidacy for the White House last year, and one that brings a significant percentage of our population into the political process.
Well done, Mr. President.