This is probably too Machiavellian a prospect, but is it possible that the White House’s walkback of Sotomayor’s 2001 comment — that her race and gender might help her, might make her judgments “better” than a white male’s, in specific cases — is all about stoking the conflagration between the right and the far right currently raging in the Republican party?
On it’s face, it seems unlikely and it might not have been planned to do that, at least not primarily. But, planned or not, I’m guessing that a major effect of the administration backing away from the comment will be to energize the far right wingers in their criticism of it. They will feel vindicated and will take sustenance from it. Not that they were likely to back down in the face of scolding from the “moderate” in the party.