Debating Sotomayor, North Korea's Nuclear Test, Arlen Specter, and Roland Burris

Bloggers on Sotomayor, North Korea, Arlen Specter, and Obama's coming address to the Muslim world.

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Our daily look at stories and topics that are lighting up the Internets:

Debating Sotomayor

The Soto-storm might still be the debate du jour, but John Farrell thinks her confirmation hearings will be boring. Here's what he predicts: "Just one more twilight struggle of the Culture Wars." Michael Scherer thinks Republican reactions to Sotomayor are Pavlovian. Conservatives are reacting one of two ways, he writes: "Elected officials, who know all about the demographic Hispanic boomlet that imperils their party, have been extremely cautious... Ideological activists, on the other hand, have begun slobbering all over the airwaves with all sorts of identity-politics based attacks." Joe Klein looks no further than Newt Gingrich's Twitter account for evidence. Conservative Peter Wehner holds up Reagan and Lincoln as standard bearers for Republican attacks: "I think the tone of Gingrich's criticism is harmful, both to political discourse in general and to his party in particular. Strong, spirited, even passionate debate can be useful, and even important, in the life of a nation. But civility and decency are vital as well." Alex Kepper explains what the GOP is thinking: "Certainly, we oppose Judge Sotomayor on the merits of the argument: she is a down-the-line judicial activist who seems to harbor some troubling racial grievances. But she's not the real target, here: This is ultimately about sapping President Obama's precious political capital." M. Abromowitz believes that by picking Sotomayor, Obama is getting ready to appoint Cass Sunstein to the court when the next vacancy opens up. And Andrew Sullivan points us to the selected cases of Sonia Sotomayor—all 516 pages of it. Oh, and we almost forgot. You just can't talk about the Sotomayor controversy without mentioning the number 32.

North Korea Gets Rashy

...And it looks like the rash is spreading. After North Korean missile firings and an underground nuclear test this earlier week, South Korean and American troops are already on alert. This piece by Robert Kaplan is drawing attention from bloggers on both sides of the aisle. He highlights Obama's pickle: "If he doesn't hit North Korea hard with sanctions, he risks demonstrating to Iran that America is a pushover... On the other hand, vigorous sanctions against North Korea could lead to the collapse of the regime. And anyone who talks breezily about 'helping' North Korea to collapse has simply not learned the lesson of Iraq: The only thing worse than a totalitarian state is no state at all." Conservative Ed Morrissey asks unhappily: "Has the Obama administration settled on a strategy of apathy? Does he think ignoring Kim will make him go away?" Marc Pascal makes the case for Obama to fail. Here is Clinton's defense secretary, William Cohen, on what Obama's doing wrong. And conservative Veronique de Rugy asks us to look inside North Korea.

Senate Update

Two stories/scandals of the day arising from the Senate. First up: Roland Burris is back in the hot seat (not that he ever stood up). Here's the link to the transcript (pdf) of Burris talking to Rod Blagojevich's brother, and here's how the New York Times explains the conversation between the two men: "By the end of the call, Mr. Burris had promised to send a personal check within a month." Carol Felsenthal thinks Burris's pants are on fire. The Daily Beast lumps Burris with other notables like Lewinsky, Nixon, Spitzer, and Larry Craig (slideshow). Moving to the next senatorial story-of-the-day: Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter looks like he'll have a Democrat challenger in the primary, despite the Democratic establishment's attempts to secure Specter a place in the party. Joe Sestak, the likely challenger, "will run no doubt as the 'real' Democrat and will be happy to pick up all those former GOP ads the Republican Senate Campaign Committee has been using to taunt Specter." This, at least, according to conservative Jennifer Rubin. Steve Benen "wouldn't bet against Sestak." He explains: "He's proven himself a capable lawmaker; he has an impressive military background; he's a life-long Dem; he has some money in the bank; and Pennsylvania Democrats are far from sold on Specter." Andrew Malcolm thinks things will no doubt get interesting.