if some Democrats can make a federal case out of Alito's membership
in Concerned Alumni of Princeton -- target on his inclusion of
that membership in a resume he submitted 20 years ago and present
failure to remember being in the group -- then I'd like to see
how they tackle Chappaquiddick.
kids, the Massachusetts senator drove a car into the drink in
Chappaquiddick in 1969. Kennedy swam away, passenger Mary Jo Kopechne,
28, drowned. The accident was tragic. Kennedy's behavior afterward,
however, was criminal. Rather than rushing to police after the
11:15 p.m. accident so that they could try to rescue Kopechne,
Kennedy went back to his hotel. He did not call police until the
next morning. Kennedy said he delayed because he panicked and
was in shock. Many suspect he spent those hours trying to construct
an alibi. After an investigation probably less intense than the
Democrats' vetting of Alito's resumes, Kennedy pleaded guilty
to leaving the scene of an accident. A judge sentenced Kennedy
to two months, suspended.)
understood what senators were thinking in allowing Kennedy on
the Judiciary Committee in the first place. While Kennedy seems
to consider himself a champion for the little guy, he is a walking
tribute to a system that, in its low moments, allows the rich
and powerful to get away with crimes that would put others behind
bars. He is a discredit to the system.
Kennedy had to scrunch down in his seat when his colleagues accused
now-Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.
Kennedy seemed like a crazy man when he suggested that the committee
subpoena records relating to Alito and the Princeton alumni club.
I know some people who don't buy Alito's "no specific recollection
of that organization" answer. For my part, the older I get,
the more credible I find it when other people claim lapses of
In the end,
this is all about smear. Some Democratic senators, like Dianne
Feinstein, are ready to stick to the issues. I respect her questions.
Alas, others -- like Kennedy -- dive deep into the sewer to make
Alito look bad. They put what he did or said decades ago under
a microscope. If they can't make Alito seem racist or sexist,
they dig for some association, no matter how negligible, with
a racist/sexist group. If Alito says he wasn't aware of how insidious
the group was, he's lying -- or, critics intone with knowing cynicism,
I've heard Kennedy fans say that it's a cheap shot to dredge up
Chappaquiddick. Forgive and forget about Kopechne, they say--
but not the Concerned Alumni of Princeton.
Bush should nominate Kennedy if Alito doesn't make it. There is
no such thing as a cheap shot on the Senate Judiciary Committee.