Unless something unexpected crops up, Judge Sonia Sotomayor is going to be confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice in the Senate, and by a comfortable margin. Knowing that, you would think that the Republican leadership (if not some of their more intemperate backbenchers) would avoid alienating the much-needed Latino community and causing unnecessary political damage to the GOP brand. But, amazingly, that is not the case.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is leading the way by accusing Sotomayor of racial bias, and he is being following by the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama. These are the two most visible Republicans in any judicial confirmation process, and they’re out there making comments that are sure to upset every Latino in the country? The comments are especially galling coming from Sessions, a cracker from the old-school who was denied confirmation as a circuit judge in the 1980’s because of his overtly racist comments and behavior. Sessions once said he thought the KKK was alright until he found out a bunch of them smoked marijuana. Lynching and terrorizing black people is okay, but smoking the ganja, not so much.

It’s hard to do worse on the optics, and it raises the question of whether the Republicans simply can’t help themselves. Are they fundamentally a racist party that cannot set aside their hatred even in the interests of political advantage? What’s driving their self-destructive behavior? Is it a need to please their base and keep the money flowing? What is the point of money if you’ve lost the ability to win elections because over 90% of blacks and latinos are not going to vote for you?

A political party wants to pick fights they can win. Accusing Sotomayor of racial bias isn’t going to prevent her from being confirmed and it is going to make it much harder for Republicans to win elections. It will actually imperil many Republicans that are already serving in office, including the three Cuban-American representatives from South Florida.

There are no black Republicans in Congress. Sen. Mel Martinez is retiring, and he is the only Latino Republican in the Senate. Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia is the only remaining Jewish Republican in Congress. There are no openly gay Republicans in Congress. The Republicans ought to take notice of what is happening to their party and discontinue the kind of rhetoric that alienates everyone but straight white males. But they can’t seem to do it. Even at the leadership level, they are making the decision to anger Latinos on a very high profile vote.

I almost want to welcome this development because it is so suicidal for the Right. But, I can’t welcome it when a major American political party resorts to overt racism. I oppose it and wish they would stop.

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