Thursday, January 12, 2006

Alito Round-Up

Let's start with the "traditional media":

"Democrats walk newly aggressive line while questioning Alito's views, values."-from the Chicago Tribune, reprinted in the Seattle Times. There is also photo here of a tearful Martha Alito in the background, gazing at her husband as he appears before the committee. Tidbit:

"Democrats went on the attack Wednesday, questioning Judge Samuel Alito's commitment to the common man, demanding documents about his membership in a controversial Princeton group and accusing him of backing away from past statements and writings.

The newly aggressive tone on the second day of questioning of the Supreme Court nominee resulted in a clash between Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

Alito's wife, Martha, broke into tears and rushed out of the hearing room as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., apologized on behalf of his colleagues."

From the blogosphere, we have "Schumer: No Decision Has Been Made Regarding Filibuster," from The Democratic Daily. Tidbit:

"Senator Chuck Schumer shot down Wolf Blitzer tonight on CNN when right out of the gate, Blitzer started off the interview by saying ” it looks like this is pretty much a done deal.”

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER: Well, I wouldn’t say that. I would say this, the Republicans march in lock step. And that was true before the hearings. Do you know of the votes we have had on over 40 Court of Appeals judges — and there are 50 Republican or so, so it was over 2,000 votes — only three have ever voted no on any of them? So they march in lockstep.

And that means that it’s impossible to block a nominee, whether it’s Supreme Court or Court of Appeals, no matter how right wing. The real question remains with the Democrats, and that is, do we try to block a nominee by filibuster? We’ve done it in a rare number, a small number, of people who are extreme, and that’s a question we’ll have to ask after Judge Alito’s hearings.

Now, as for Judge Alito himself, it’s amazing how everyone in the media just sort of goes along with all this. He says, I will keep an open mind on Roe. Well, has anyone ever said they won’t?

He said, no president is above the law. Those were the two headlines in all the papers this morning.

Has anyone said, oh, yes, the president’s above the law? So I think the — it’s — we each have to make a determination, particularly on the Democratic side, about how extreme he was. As you know I questioned him pretty hard on Roe v. Wade. I came to a conclusion that in all likelihood he would vote to overturn. That was increased this morning by Senator Durbin’s questioning, made it — you know, it seemed even more so. And that’s something that’ll have to be weighed along with other issues." (Full coverage of Schumer's comments on CNN here.)

firedoglake focuses on the tearful drama in hearing room as stage-managed political theatre:

"Mrs. Strip Search Sammy sure had herself a Kodak moment today, didn't she? Goober Graham left off his corn-pone homilies and played the hick card just long enough to set her up by using the B word --– the word they're all terrified of, the word they wanted to use before the Democrats did -- BIGOT BIGOT BIGOT BIGOT BIGOT BIGOT -- that sent the low-rent Sarah Bernhardt shrieking for the cheap seats.

I've worked in the biz long enough to know a poorly executed little melodrama when I see it and that was the worst, the most shameless, most obvious. It's the role you give a really bad actress, one that can't even be counted upon to cry with conviction. The mad dash will obscure the crocodile tears and ensure that all the cameras follow, and any attempt at intelligent discussion of quite serious and weighty matters will undoubtedly get trumped by a moment of quick burlesque ripe for the evening news. A slavish press will need no coaching to play along.

Pure setup 101."

Booman Tribune tells us "Why We are Not Winning on Alito":

"If you're wondering why we aren't seeing more rabid opposition to Alito from our Democratic senators, the polls will help explain it. To be fair, the numbers looked similar prior to the Bork hearings. But Joe Biden was the chair of that committee, not the ranking member. As chairman, he was able to highlight Bork's extremism much more effectively than Leahy is able to hightlight Alito's.

Making matters worse is the high level of apathy of the general public, and the fact that the pro-life crowd appears more motivated and attuned to the hearings than the pro-choice group.

We've been doing our part, writing letters, signing petitions, etc. But, the other side is active too.

And Lindsay Graham made Mrs. Alito cry by asking her husband ""Are you a closet bigot?" The crying gambit appears to have worked, as most media outlets are blaming the Democrats for upsetting Mrs. Alito. I have mixed feelings about it. Obviously, Graham's comment was rhetorical, and he was only pointing out the subtext of the Dems questioning about the Concerned Alumni of Princeton. On the other hand, Alito's explanation for his membership in that group is disingenuous.

In the end, we lose when the wife storms out in tears."

Against my better judgement, the last word goes to the Washington Post, excerpted from their story today, "Alito Leaves Door Open to Reversing 'Roe'":

"The once-sluggish confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. turned confrontational yesterday, as the nominee signaled he might be willing to revisit the ruling that legalized abortion nationwide and Democrats pummeled him over his membership in an alumni group that wanted to restrict enrollment of women and minorities.

Tempers flared openly between the Senate Judiciary Committee's Republican chairman and eldest Democrat, and the nominee's wife fled the marbled hearing room in tears before the day ended with Republicans predicting that Alito will win confirmation, although by a slim margin."

National Public Radio is providing live coverage and audio highlights of each day's testimony.

Update: News Dissector has posted "Tears And Jeers As Sam says I Am"

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