Brian Beutler says the magazine's editors seem "flummoxed by the very idea of a 'wise Latina' — have caricaturized the Puerto Rican-descended Sonia Sotomayor as an Asian Buddhist."
What was the National Review thinking? Possibilities:
1. The Buddha in meditation is a quick visual representation of wisdom... and specifically the kind of wisdom that is inappropriate for a Supreme Court Justice, since the Buddha is not consulting texts but looking inward (or at nothing or whatever) and generating new wisdom. Even if she is wise, we don't want that wisdom. We want competence operating in the orthodox judicial mode of reading, analyzing, and interpreting the law as it is written.
2. Americans usually think of the Buddha as fat, and it's a way of calling her fat. Just a free-floating insult — to both Sotomayor and the Buddha.
3. The Buddha is a male, and it's a way of suggesting that Sotomayor is insufficiently feminine and perhaps even lesbian.
4. She's other and all those other groups may be blended together and viewed as threatening to the American way of life.
Let's hope it's #1.