January 11, 2006


Democrats Cast Wide Net Seeking Alito Flaw: The senators' critique showed the party's difficulty at coalescing around a single, clear argument against his high court nomination. (Ronald Brownstein, January 11, 2006, LA Times)

Democrats resembled a guerrilla army searching for a weak point in a heavily guarded fortress Tuesday as they challenged Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. at his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing.

The array of issues Democrats raised reflected the breadth of their concerns about the record of Alito, President Bush's choice to succeed retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. But the broad nature of their critique also underscored the party's difficulty at coalescing around a single, clear argument against Alito's nomination.

The long day of testimony did not produce a dramatic or emotional confrontation that flustered Alito, a judge on the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. But the persistent and sometimes relentless questioning from Democrats signaled that the party might mount a more forceful resistance to his nomination than it did to Bush's choice last year of John G. Roberts Jr. as chief justice.

One wouldn't put it past the Democrats to oppose a nominee even though they can't find anything wrong with him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 11, 2006 8:59 PM

So even the LA Times admits that the Democratic Party is opposing Alito for the sake of opposition. It says something about the process that it can openly acknowledged how the opposition forms first and the reasons follow.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at January 11, 2006 9:17 PM

This ought to be the ultimate test of the "Gang of 14". If they can deliver the filibuster-proof majority, then it was a brilliant piece of politicking. If not, then we're in "pig in a poke" territory.

Posted by: HT at January 11, 2006 9:48 PM

Graham's the point man. And he's got McCain's pxoy.

Posted by: ghostcat at January 11, 2006 9:57 PM


Your phrasing brings to mind the words "I see no fault in this man" with the crowd secreaming "Crucify him."

Not that Alito is Jesus or anything...

Posted by: Bruno at January 11, 2006 9:59 PM

"A guerrilla army"

Yes, the Democrats are nothing if not brain-dead, soul-dead, shrill babbling idealogues, wandering lost and starving in the jungle, firing at innocents, and hopeless in the face of reality.

Now, once the press starts writing it that way, then we'll be getting somewhere.

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 11, 2006 10:07 PM

jim: For the media, the guerrillas are most always the good guys. One wonders why "insurgent" wasn't used. Of course, I suppose we should be grateful that he didn't compare the Republicans to "paramilitary death squads" or something of the sort...

Posted by: b at January 11, 2006 10:21 PM

the democrats should remember that there is always a hereafter

Posted by: danw at January 11, 2006 11:20 PM

The "party of feelings"? Wouldn't that be the one that says, "Confirm him because the Democrat meanies made his wife cry"?

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at January 12, 2006 2:52 AM

I see nothing wrong with the questioning of Alito, nor exposing the implications of his previous writings or decisions. It is a lifetime appointment after all and over the last 40 years the Supreme Court has been the tail wagging the dog.

We have gotten in the position we are in now, because wussy Republicans have been lackadaisical in the nomination process. Ginzburg should have been grilled in such a manner as to put pressure on conservative (esp. southern) Democratic Senators. Good electoral politics, as well as taking the Supreme Court out of ideological battles which they should have no part of.

The same applies to Souter, Stevens, Kennedy, and O'Connor and other Republican nominees. I wish Souter, Stevens, Ginzberg, Breyer and their spouses had been brought to tears and rejected. Instead we have Hatch bragging about his bipartisan approach. None of this would be an issue, if it weren't for liberals USING and ABUSING the Supreme Court to further their agenda.

Posted by: h-man at January 12, 2006 4:03 AM

Rick: Every good advocate makes the argument that he believes will sway his adversaries and the audience, even if he thinks that they are incredible weenies.

While h-man is correct in theory, in practice the Senators are so unbelievably dumb (both sides) that any lawyer worth putting on the Supreme Court can dance right by them. Everyone understands that Bork's mistake was in making his positions clear to the meanest intelligence and if he hadn't been quite so condescending he still might have gotten away with it.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 12, 2006 7:37 AM

Rick Perlstein:

Haven't really seen anyone around here make that argument, have you? Shocking news: All of us were for Alito even before that incident occurred.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 12, 2006 8:57 AM

Rick has stumbled onto a truth though, the party of feelings is the one that must suffer from hurting peoples' feelings. If you're the feminine party you don't want to be making women cry.

Posted by: oj at January 12, 2006 9:05 AM

It's not even that. Think of it this way, Rick: if I get drunk at a party and take a swing at you, well, a good fight is all in good fun. If I get so drunk that I swing at you and miss and hit your wife instead, well, the fight's pretty much over right there, on account of I'm too drunk to be fighting. That looks to be more or less what's happening here.

Posted by: joe shropshire at January 12, 2006 9:49 AM

You start to wonder if Karl Rove isn't paying someone to spike Ted Kennedy's bottle of Bushmill's with a little LSD.

(he says, impishly hoping that the meme gets taken seriously over at Democratic Underground)

Posted by: Mike Morley at January 12, 2006 1:14 PM

Hay Mike, let's spread the stroy that Alito is wearing a wire.

Posted by: Jayson at January 12, 2006 2:11 PM

Perhaps the Democrats used to be the feminine party. The roles are quite reversed now. Now Republicans say we have to cower in the shadow of our manly-men protecters every time the big bad boogie men say "boo." Not an edifying sight.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at January 12, 2006 3:21 PM


Think of it as High Noon. W is Marshall Kane and you guys are hiding while he deals with Frank Miller, same as you hid behind Reagan while he beat the Soviets.

Posted by: oj at January 12, 2006 3:31 PM

Rick is trying out this week's theme on the left. The theme is that only wimps worry about Al Queda. The real stong people are those on the left who boldly oppose the Bush Administration, not the terrorists.

Posted by: Bob at January 12, 2006 7:37 PM


Perlstein's probably long gone so I won't address this to him, but it's interesting that he refers to terrorists as "big bad boogie men." Taking his words seriously, he must not think that terrorists really exist or could harm us in any way.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 12, 2006 8:17 PM

Well, just because they aren't much of a threat doesn't mean they don't need killing.

Posted by: oj at January 13, 2006 12:29 AM


Long-term, probably nothing serious. I was referring to short-term.

Of course, any damage they do to us will be paid back a hundred-fold, to both them personally and to their ideology. Has been, in fact.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 13, 2006 3:02 AM

OJ, Reagan contributed to the ending of the cold war not by John Wayne B.S. but by having the courage to open a dialogue--something conservatives of the time, like Dick Cheney and George Will and Richard Perle, called weakness and betrayal, claiming Perestroika and Glasnost were made up. They believed ONLY in the boogie men.

New Yorkers--like I was 9/11/2001--don't fear the boogie men. They went on with their lives; and rejected George Bush's macho front.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at January 13, 2006 6:54 AM

Perestroika and Glasnost were serious attempts to retain Communism, but doomed to failure. It was Perle's insistence that Reagan not trade Star Wars at Reykavik that ven Gorbachev acknowledged ended the Cold War, because they had no way of keeping up in the arms race.

But it was the losses in Nicaragua and Afghanistan that demonstrated that we could reproduce Vietnam in pretty nearly every foot of Soviet bloc territory if we wanted to and the Soviet people weren't willing to die to maintain the Party's empire.

Democrats, and Nixon, had tried to work out a modus vivendi with the USSR that would have prevented Glasnost. Democrats opposed Star Wars. Democrats oppsed the contras and aid to El Salvador and to Savimbi and Grenada and the bombing of Qaddafi and the upgrading of the INF missiles....etc.....etc....etc....

The party never got past 1968.

Posted by: oj at January 13, 2006 8:15 AM


What can they do to us in the short term?

Posted by: oj at January 13, 2006 8:35 AM

Well, they can drop a building on Rick's head, for one thing. Chicago is just as target-rich an environment as New York. Of course he says he doesn't care about that. Not that that's a macho pose or anything.

Posted by: joe shropshire at January 13, 2006 12:02 PM

oj: Well done!

Remember that the reason the folk-enemies and culture-traitors became Comsymps and the reason that they now become toadies for the C.J.'s is their hatred for American and of the American way of life.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 13, 2006 12:11 PM


Kill a bunch of our people.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 13, 2006 1:04 PM

Which would be tragic, but isn't actually much of a threat.

Posted by: oj at January 13, 2006 1:43 PM


The possibility of being killed by terrorists seems like a threat to me. However, whatever you call it (and contrary to Perlstein's thought), it's a perfectly good justification for going after the "boogie men."

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 13, 2006 2:22 PM

Yes. it's certainly a deadly threat to those it kills, but hardly what you'd consider a serious national security threat. Bottom line: it doesn'
t threaten the republic. We're fighting them because we want to, not need to.

Posted by: oj at January 13, 2006 2:30 PM

Well, conceivably they could always release a deadly virus or explode a nuke in one or more of our cities. But, you're right -- that's probably not a threat to the survival of the Republic.

Think of it this way: Americans have a strong sense of right and wrong and we have to fight these guys because we have a moral obligation to prevent future killings of our citizens.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 13, 2006 4:35 PM

Sure, but the obligation we're acting on now is, as usual, more universal: to bring liberty to the Islamic world as we brought it to the Soviet Bloc and Europe etc.

Posted by: oj at January 13, 2006 4:52 PM

Right, and it's a nice happenstance that draining the fever swamps of the Middle East also enervates Islamism and reduces the (short-term) threat to our citizens. Except for the nutcases, everybody wins.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 13, 2006 5:03 PM

Oh, and Rick Perlstein wins too, although he apparently doesn't perceive that being protected from terrorist threats is good for him.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 13, 2006 5:05 PM

The obligation we are acting on is to keep the urban herd as safe as possible, given the tools we have to work with, thereby marginalizing their elites.

Posted by: joe shropshire at January 13, 2006 5:07 PM