were those long-winded preambles to "questions" for
the judge. Then there were the Mickey Mouse maneuvers and insinuations,
spiced here and there with outright lies.
of the charges was classically illustrated by Senator Joseph Biden's
claim that Alito had been part of a group that was trying to keep
minorities and women out of Princeton. Apparently wanting everyone
to meet the same admissions standards is considered to be the
same as being against minorities and women.
his position, Senator Biden said, "I don't even like Princeton."
Unfortunately for him, a radio talk show host played that back
on the air -- along with a speech that Biden gave at Princeton,
praising it to the skies.
At the same
level of farce was a loud and insistent demand by Senator Ted
Kennedy that the Senate Judiciary Committee vote to issue a subpoena
for certain records -- even though those records were readily
available without a subpoena. In fact, the records in question
had already been received by the committee.
hypocrisy was asking Judge Alito questions that everyone knew
in advance no judicial nominee could -- or should -- answer, and
then complaining afterwards on nationwide television that he was
not "forthcoming" or "responsive."
these ploys had anything to do with determining Judge Alito's
qualifications to be on the Supreme Court. At most there were
attempts to provoke him to anger with insulting questions, in
hopes of providing an excuse for Democrats to vote against him
and for the weaker Republicans to be afraid to support him.
Alito remained unruffled and dignified.
purpose of all this grandstanding was to play to the gallery of
the most rabid element of Democratic Party activists, people like
the Hollywood leftists who contribute big bucks and who hate everything
the administration stands for, as well as most of what most Americans
the phony issues and overheated rhetoric by some members of the
Senate Judiciary Committee, the only real objection to Judge Alito
is that he could become the deciding "swing vote" on
a closely divided Supreme Court by replacing Sandra Day O'Connor
-- and that Judge Alito is not likely to be as sympathetic to
liberal positions as Justice O'Connor has become over the years.
vote" has long been the real issue in Senate confirmation
hearings, whether the name of the nominee has been Bork or Alito.
massive smear campaign that defeated the nomination of Judge Robert
Bork to the Supreme Court back in 1987, Antonin Scalia was confirmed
unanimously -- even though he and Bork had voted almost identically
in cases on the Circuit Court of Appeals.
On a couple
of cases where they voted differently, Scalia took a more conservative
position than Bork. Why then was Scalia considered to be enough
in the "mainstream" for his nomination to sail through,
while Bork was branded a right-wing "extremist"?
It had nothing
to do with Scalia or Bork. If Bork had been nominated first, he
would have sailed through and then Scalia would have been branded
a right-wing extremist, because then Scalia would have been the
prospective "swing vote" on the Supreme Court.
Judge John Roberts' nomination to be Chief Justice sailed through
because he was just replacing another conservative, while Judge
Alito would be replacing Justice O'Connor, who was more acceptable
to the liberals.
who smear and denounce judicial nominees on nationwide television,
and then afterwards hypocritically assure them privately that
there was "nothing personal" are, in a certain twisted
sense, correct. They would have lied and smeared anyone else in
the same situation.
also not about Samuel Alito personally in a different sense. The
larger question is how we are going to get the good people that
we need on our courts, if they have to go through smears and petty
harassment during confirmation hearings.
people usually have other options and many of them may go elsewhere
rather than become the butt of cheap political games on nationwide