Monday, January 16, 2006
In Alito v. Democrats, a Trial of a Different Sort
As of this writing, Samuel Alito, President Bush’s nominee for the Supreme Court, has little to fear concerning his confirmation.
In fact, the judge for the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals would be wise to worry about road burn, so fast and nearly seamless has his trip been through these hearings.
Sure, Democrats had Ted Kennedy trying to tar Alito with every smear he could muster, and then some. But deep within their oft-times vituperative hearts, Democrats, I think, are beginning to realize something: that bell just doesn’t ring anymore. Kennedy, the old liberal lion of the Senate, can no longer replicate the demagogic heyday of such political strategy.
Remember “Robert Bork’s America,” as detailed by Senator Kennedy in 1987? Roared the liberal lion: “Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, children could not be taught about evolution.”
This was not merely a creation of “Bork” as a verb, as when uber-feminist Florence Kennedy famously addressed the National Organization of Women (NOW) in 1991 on the importance of defeating the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court: “We're going to Bork him.” No. It was more than that.
Senator Kennedy had instituted a policy for Senate Democrats to follow all the way to these hearings for Samuel Alito. And even as Senator Kennedy made the old media and the far-left faithful coo with delight as he backhandedly accused Alito of being a “closet- bigot,” it suddenly seemed as if these Senate Democrats were nothing more than well-dressed mud-slinging hacks.
Try as they might, Democrats could not knock Alito off his non-committal perch regarding such issues as abortion, affirmative action, civil rights, and presidential powers.
So what did Kennedy and fellow Democrats manage to do? Well, for starters, they made Mrs. Alito shed a few tears when Senator Lindsey Graham, (R, NC) apologized for the Democrats repeated attempts at indirectly labeling her husband as a racist, or “closet-bigot.”
Democrats managed to convey to the public at large that the helplessness they displayed during the confirmation hearings of John Roberts a few months ago was no fluke. With regard to Alito, Democrats looked even worse, and could not muster the intellectual might to raise serious judicial and constitutional queries.
But perhaps the biggest degree of failure by Senate Democrats will reside in how the next Supreme Court nominee is treated by these same Senate Democrats. For you see, the political drive-by shootings and smear-jobs that constituted the heart of the Democrats political strategy for derailing any Republican nominee are no longer sticking like they used to.
In the future, Democrats may actually have to come up with real questions and concerns, as opposed to 5,000-word narratives that essentially say that “this Republican nominee is the devil.”
But with Alito, there was no intellectual thought applied to their questions. There was no rigorous examination of what Alito really did with regard to his 15 years on the bench.
There were just the Kennedys and Schumers and Bidens of the Democratic Party, coming to the horrible (theirs) realization that these public “trials” held by the Senate Judiciary Committee for a Supreme Court nominee will never be the same again.
The public has finally realized that just because Democrats claimed that any Republican nominee to the court was a racist, homophobe, sexist, child-killer (okay, I threw that one in…) and civil rights destroyer, did not actually mean it was so.
The actual substance of a charge has finally overcome the seriousness of a charge, as leveled for decades by Democrats against Republicans. For Republicans, and the country, it is a time well worth marking. For Senate Democrats and their liberal backers--like NOW and MoveOn.org--it signals an end to the smash-mouth politics of SCOTUS nominees, as the public just isn’t buying it anymore.
Still, there will be theatrics aplenty in Washington. Senator Kennedy’s demand of Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R, PA) to go into “executive session” regarding Alito’s ties to a now-defunct Princeton university organization called Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP) added up to network camera-inspired twaddle and showmanship. The cause was lost before Kennedy ever started.
Samuel Alito will soon sit among his peers on the Supreme Court. It is probably a safe bet to say that President Bush will have another pick before his presidency is done. It will be interesting to see if Democrats decide to challenge whoever Bush picks upon the merits of solid and questing argument, or fall back yet again to the Kennedy school of public demagoguery.
In a perfect world, Democrats would try, fail yet again, and still learn nothing. The GOP would have a solid hand on the court, and the metastasizing, creeping liberalism that has infected the country these past sixty years can now be somewhat turned back.
But that is in an imperfect world. Let’s wait and see if Senate Democrats have learned anything regarding these hearings and the now futile and failure-destined strategy of the Kennedy doctrine, or will it be just a question of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
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