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We told you earlier today about Alberto Gonzales' apparent use of the nomination of the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice -- a distinction for which Gonzo himself was once a top candidate -- to rehabilitate his reputation.

But judging by the way that the ex-AG's name is being invoked today -- as a prime example of an unqualified political hack who was seen to be in the running for the top court thanks largely to his personal ties to the president -- that rehab campaign doesn't seem to be going so well.

Watch:

Former Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-AR), a right-winger who lost re-election against conservative Democrat Mark Pryor in 2002, gave a remarkably candid and dispassionate analysis of the Sotomayor nomination on MSNBC today -- laying out just how bad he thinks it is for the Republicans:



"Oh I think it's a brilliant nomination, and I think it creates a great political dilemma for Republicans," said Hutchinson. "You've got a Republican base that is -- they're ready for a fight, they want to take the measure of how much fight there is in Senate Republicans. And there is the great risk that you alienate women and you alienate Latinos, both constituencies that the Republicans struggle with and need to expand to. So I think it's a big political problem for Republicans."

Has the New Hampshire phone-jamming case finally come to a quiet end?

Federal prosecutors have dropped their case against former regional NRSC official James Tobin in connection with a GOP plot to jam the phone lines of the New Hampshire Democratic party on Election Day 2002, reports the Associated Press.

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The day after Souter announced his retirement, conservative fundraiser Dan Morgan laid out the game to Jonathan Allen of Congressional Quarterly, "This is a nuclear weapon for the conservatives out there. When you do fundraising, there is an emotional component in this. And boy, the emotion is there magnified times 100. The Supreme Court is great. That`s going to be mail. That`s going to phone calls. The clients I work with are in meetings already. There are letters being written already."

That explains quite a bit. Because if you take a step back from all the angry noise on cable news about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, you realize that all of the conservatives directing outrage her way don't really seem to have tons of representation in Congress. Aside from the occasional backdoor insult from conservative senators like James Inhofe (R-OK) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the response from the GOP has ranged from modest skepticism to modest congratulations.

There are a lot of reasons for that, but, breaking it down to its simplest components, Sotomayor is a qualified and politically sympathetic figure; there's no clear precedent for killing her nomination, and there's just about nothing to gain--and much to lose--by attacking her.

But the calculus is different if you work in the conservative movement. By ginning up controversy where none exists, these activists get free press and free money and a micro-movement with which to corral fellow travelers into common cause. But who are they? Below, a rundown of some of the key players.

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At the White House press briefing just now, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked by Chip Reid of CBS News about Newt Gingrich's Twitter comments that a "Latina woman racist" should have to withdraw from a judicial nomination, comparing Sonia Sotomayor to a hypothetical white man saying his background made him a better pick than a Latina.



"I think it is probably important for anybody involved in this debate to be exceedingly careful with the way in which they've decided to describe different aspects of this impending nomination," said Gibbs. "I think we're satisfied that when the people of America and the people of the Senate get a chance to look at more than just the blog of a former lawmaker, that they'll come to the same conclusion that the President did."

Judge Sonia Sotomayor in 2009.

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Sotomayor with godson Thomas "Tommy" Butler at the United States Court of Appeals signing ceremony in 1998.

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Sotomayor visits students at her alma mater, Cardinal Spellman High School, in New York.

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Sotomayor with niece Kylie Sotomayor in upstate New York.

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Sotomayor with mother Celina Sotomayor.

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Sotomayor in 2009.

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Sotomayor with nephews Conner and Corey Sotomayor at Yankee Stadium.

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Sotomayor with mother Celina Sotomayor.

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A young Sotomayor with sister Miriam and cousins.

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A young Sotomayor.

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Sotomayor with her mother and father.

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Sotomayor.

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Sotomayor's Princeton '76 yearbook page.

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Sotomayor in a cap and gown for her eighth grade graduation.

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At his big fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee tonight in Angeles, President Obama will be joined by a prominent Dem Senator in a sign of party solidarity, The Hill reports: Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who was of course a Republican until about a month ago.

Specter has been raising money on the West Coast, and will be swinging by the Beverly Hills Hilton for the Obama event. "He will be with President Obama tonight, and we're glad to report that many of the president's West Coast fundraisers have agreed to help us," Specter campaign manager Chris Nicholas told the paper.

Amazing as it seems, there was a time not so long ago, when people were talking about a very different potential first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice: Alberto Gonzales. That never came to pass, of course. But it hasn't stopped Gonzo from using the Sotomayor nomination to get himself back in the media spotlight, making the rounds on cable news to discuss the historic moment.

Still, we can't help but feel there's a longer-term agenda behind the ex-AG's recent media tour. Call it the self-rehabilitation of Alberto Gonzales.

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Appearing on Fox News today, Liz Cheney worried that a judge who makes legal decisions based on how they want the law to work out "moves us away from the rule of law":



"And you know, you're not supposed to make decisions based on how you want the law to come out -- how you want the results to come out. If you're a judge or a Justice, obviously one would hope that you would be just strictly interpreting the law, and I think we've heard in a number of instances President Obama talk about, sort of, a results-oriented approach to the law, or you know, making these determinations based on your heart or your empathy. And I think that's dangerous. I think that moves us away from the rule of law."


Of course, this comes form someone who is mounting a huge public relations campaign for her father's policy that "enhanced interrogation" was legal and not torture. Interestingly, this Republican concern about results-oriented legal judgement was also lodged yesterday by John Yoo, one of the authors of the torture memos.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, is busy playing down the expectations for any GOP resistance to the Sotomayor nomination.

Sessions appeared on the Today show, and said that Sotomayor "has serious problems." And he urged against rushing through to a confirmation. "But I would think that we would all have a good hearing, take our time, and do it right," he said. "And then the senators cast their vote up or down based on whether or not they think this is the kind of judge that should be on the court."

However, he also added: "I don't sense a filibuster in the works."

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