John Cornyn Isn't Smart, He's Just Not Stupid

It has been interesting to read in the news and on this blog about Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and his surprising defense of Sonia Sotomayor. John Feehery called him a "superstar" and A.B. Stoddard frames it as "Cornyn Throws Down the Gauntlet." Those of us in Texas know a little better.

Other than realizing it's bad politics, he's at least savvy enough to realize you don't champion people who call a smart Latina a racist, even if she is from New York, when you come from a state that's more than 36 percent Hispanic. Sen. Cornyn's views on immigration are far from soft, but taking a swipe at someone on your right saves you from having to move to your left. Is it possible the least intelligent senator from Texas is smarter than the leadership of the Republican Party?

His tone regarding this has been noticeably unequivocal, saying, "I think it's terrible. This is not the kind of tone that any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advice and consent. Neither one of these men [Rush Limbaugh or Newt Gingrich] are elected Republican officials. I just don't think it's appropriate. I certainly don't endorse it. I think it's wrong."

And this isn't some one-off sort of thing. He's running around Texas telling people this on local television. He told a station in northeast Texas that it was a "rush to judgment" and that their job was not to "impose their perspective because of their ethnicity." This may shock some of the more conservative elements of the Republican Party who don't remember his last opponent was a guy named Rick Noriega.

I'm fairly certain Cornyn doesn't believe Sotomayor is a racist, nor do I believe any reasonable person would. And in my experience with him he's never come off as a bigot. But facing off with Rush and Newt isn't a principled stand. It's the manifestation of a political reality.

Besides, as my friends at Burnt Orange Report have pointed out, if Cornyn really didn't like Rush, as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee he'd "show it by making sure Limbaugh's invitation to headline the RNSC's [sic] June 8th multi-million dollar fundraiser gets lost in the mail."

Anyone want to bet that isn't going to happen?