In contrast to the ideology-focused campaign against Estrada, Matt Yglesias points out,
The argument about Sonia Sotomayor consists of the idea that we should discount her career and her degrees because those are just the results of the kind of “preferential treatment” that poor Puerto Rican girls from the projects get. We’ve also heard that she has a troubling fondness for Puerto Rican food. That it’s unreasonable that she pronounces her name as if it’s a Spanish word. We’ve heard that she’s a soft-hearted woman who wants to set aside the law in favor of empathetic victims, and also heard complaints that she’s failed to set aside the law in order to help out empathetic white people. These kind of criticisms are going to drive Hispanics away from the conservative cause not because conservatives are criticizing a Latina, but because they’re criticizing her in terms that imply a generalized skepticism about the qualifications of all American Hispanics, a loathing of Latin culture, and a monomaniacal obsession with defending the interests of white people.
Karl Rove took the tepid Latino backlash to the anti-Estrada campaign as a sign that its open season on Sotomayor. But that only makes sense if one adheres to the spectacularly unsophisticated view of racism that Republicans hold. Applied to Sotomayor, they are going to choke on those words.