January 12, 2006
The Alito hearings are about to conclude, and the nominee has acquitted himself exceedingly well, leaving little doubt that he will be confirmed. The Democrats' attempts to wear him down psychologically with smears and innuendos backfired when his wife left the room in tears yesterday. The suggestion by Sen. Kennedy and other Democrats that Alito's past membership in the "Concerned Alumni of Princeton" was indicative of hostility to minority rights was not borne out by any other evidence. This time Sen. Lindsey Graham played a very useful role in coming to Alito's defense when he really needed such verbal support. Rush Limbaugh noted that the treatment inflicted upon Alito was tantamount to "torture," which is a bit of a stretch, but it may well fit the absurdly loose definitions of torture that have been applied by many leftists in recent months at least. Actually, Jacqueline drew that clever comparison the day before, on Tuesday. ¡Megadittos, mi amor! Does this prove that torture cannot be counted on to coax information out of people being interrogated? This is ironic, to say the least.
I wouldn't entirely discount worries about Alito's membership in that Princeton group, given what has been written by some people who have knowledge about that group, but his explanation about the ROTC expulsion from Princeton seems convincing. In any case, we shouldn't hold a person's past organizational affiliations (think Sen. Robert Byrd, D-WV) or youthful indiscretions (think Bill Clinton) against him or her many years later. Most of us do grow up and acquire more mature, responsible attitudes. There is no question that Alito is such a person of superb character and mature judgment.
Sen. Chuck Schumer was practically fuming that Alito stuck to his guns by answering questions about hypothetical future cases by explaining the process by which he would reach a decision, reserving judgment about what decision he would probably reach. That is exactly what good, impartial judges are supposed to do! Schumer's demand that Alito state in advance how he would vote on abortion cases -- i.e., the outcome -- shows that he is not the least bit interested in Alito's judicial capacity and integrity, but merely wants him to make a pledge on a woman's "freedom to choose" as a prerequisite for ascending to the Supreme Court.
The Democrats' inability to lay a glove on Alito means they will have to rethink their strategy as a minority party, and the need to impose self-discipline on themselves to avoid grandstanding. The party's most notorious loud-mouths are now getting their comeuppance, and most of them will hopefully remain relatively muted for a few weeks. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, a stalwart moderate liberal, laments the Democrats' wrong-headed approach, zeroing in on Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), the loudest of the loud-mouths:
[Biden's] manic-obsessive running of the mouth has become the functional equivalent of womanizing or some other character weakness that disqualifies a man for the presidency. It is his version of corruption, of alcoholism, of a fierce temper or vile views -- all the sorts of things that have crippled candidates in the past.
It's the same glory-craving affliction that has plagued many good men and women in public service, including Sen. John McCain.
Finally, let us pay respects to Sen. Arlen Specter, who is recovering from cancer treatments and has a full head of hair once again, for standing up against the bullying of Ted Kennedy yesterday. Some Republicans have misgivings about the moderates on their side of the aisle, but Specter showed that his desire to maintain civility in the halls of Congress does not mean that he will put up with arrogance and disruptive behavior by members of the opposition party, especially not when it is part of a smear campaign reminiscent of the Joe McCarthy era. "Have they no sense of decency?"
UPDATE: From Power Line Blog comes this first-hand perspective from Susan Sullivan, a "card carrying member of the ACLU" who worked as a law clerk with Alito in 1990-1991. She wrote an op-ed piece defending the judge:
As a liberal, what scares me is not the prospect of having Sam Alito on the Supreme Court; what scares me is the way my fellow Liberal Democrats are behaving in response to the nomination. I'm appalled and embarrassed by the fear mongering, the personal attacks and what I see as an irresponsible and misleading distortion of his real judicial record as well as his character. Now the threat of a filibuster lurks and Senator Kennedy's tirade about documents being concealed, seems like little more than a pretext to justify a filibuster.