U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley on Wednesday likened presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's controversial remarks on a federal judge to a statement frequently made by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor before she was appointed to the high court. [...] Grassley, a Republican, is Iowa's senior senator and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees court appointments.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is facing a credible challenge this year, and it's entirely possible that the Republican lawmaker will come up short, ending a congressional career that began way back in 1975.
But reading this Des Moines Register piece, published this morning, it's hard not to feel a little sorry for Grassley. If this is his final year in Congress, it's a shame the GOP senator is going out as something of a laughingstock.
"I think that you don't have any more trouble with what Trump said than when Sotomayor said that -- when she was found saying in speeches that, quote, 'A wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male,'" he said. "I don't hear any criticism of that sort of comment by a justice of the Supreme Court."
Grassley must have thought this out, preparing this argument in advance, because it's unlikely he recited a years-old, 23-word quote from memory.
And that's a shame because the Trump and Sotomayor stories couldn't be more different. Trump's overt racism has been widely denounced for its ugliness and brazenness, while Sotomayor's "wise Latina" remarks weren't racist at all.
What's more, Grassley's instincts on this are bizarre. Confronted with a controversy surrounding a Republican nominee using racist language, the Iowa senator seems eager, not to defend his ally or to rationalize the language, but to point fingers elsewhere. "Oh yeah?" Grassley seems to be saying, "look at that liberal judge! If my side has racists then the other side has racists!"
It's sad, it's factually incorrect, and it's entirely unnecessary.
Worse, it's part of a pattern of recent news about Grassley that's more than a little disconcerting.
Grassley's pro-Trump arguments have been laughable. His handling of the GOP's Supreme Court blockade has been scandalous. His offensive against Chief Justice John Roberts was cringe-worthy. His recent tantrum during a local interview was inexplicable.
Grassley isn't just some random political personality; he's the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. There's an expectation that he's going to be a mature, responsible policymaker who commands broad respect.
It's increasingly obvious the Iowa senator is falling far short of this standard. The editorial board of the Des Moines Register added this morning, "[W]hen it comes to Donald Trump, there are invertebrates that have shown more spine than Sen. Charles Grassley."
Is this really how a veteran lawmaker wants to run for re-election, possibly for the last time?