The Right Man for the Job
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to send the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the United States Supreme Court to the full Senate for a confirmation vote. The vote was 10 – 8, and along party lines. None of this has been unexpected. Porcupine was pleased with the nomination (see HERE), after the Miers fiasco, but had secretly hoped for Judge Janice Brown (perhaps when Stevens performs the ultimate recusal?).
Some things emerged during the confirmation hearing that deserve comment.
First, the modern practice of stating your case to the media, sometimes with PowerPoint presentations, has made the Senate’s role of ‘advise and consent’ a superfluous one. Other than the possibility of a filibuster, is there anything germane that will be debated on the Senate Floor instead of 'Meet the Press'? Porcupine is old enough to remember when these hearings were muted, and no Senator would betray to a mere reporter how he planned to vote, as the mystique of the Senate as an advisory body was involved. Now, the Senate has gone Madison Avenue, and the sloganeering – on both sides - has been fast and furious. No pretense is made that the deliberations will be valuable in reaching a consensus, and the rules are not as polite as those of an Oxford debating club.
Next, the point of view of some of the Senators is, shall we say, interesting. Sen. Schumer has expressed great concern that Alito’s views are not those of the ‘mainstream’. Has he looked around? Does he honestly think that his own very liberal views are mainstream when the electorate of the country has chosen a conservative majority in both Houses of Congress and the Executive? Nobody can steal that many votes, in fifty different states, to justify a claim that there is a vast sea of unheard liberal voices. That point of view is heard loudly and frequently, and has been soundly rejected by most of the nation. As a Republican in Massachusetts, Porcupine feels some empathy for the Senator’s pain, but realism demands otherwise. Also, for a privileged scion of illicit wealth (bootlegging, stock manipulation) like Ted Kennedy to worry that the son of hard working, humble Italian immigrants is overly biased against the ‘little guy’ is laughable. Alito actually is a little guy, and what he has he earned. We will pass over some of Sen. Kennedy’s more ludicrous claims and expositions, like the matter of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton versus the Harvard Owl Club; they have already received wide comment.
Lastly, Porcupine has heard frequent reference made to the concept that the Republicans would be just as moonbatty if there were a liberal nominee from a Democrat President. To test out this theory, Porcupine revisited the Judiciary Committee debates of Breyer and Ginsburg. Breyer was such stealth nominee that Porcupine wonders if Clinton knew what his opinions were, but Ginsburg had well established liberal credentials available through her writings. Frankly, the demagoguery of the extreme right was not in evidence during her confirmations, and she was confirmed with a vote of 96 – 3 by the full Senate. Only the eponymous Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas were treated to this kind of media circus and general disparagement, which makes it appear that it is the intolerant liberal left who had and will continue to demean the High Court by smearing its nominees unless they can conform to their trades union of lockstep ideas. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, argued that even if Judge Alito is confirmed, the heavy Democratic opposition should send "a message to the president that he should be more careful."
"I think it sends a message to the American people that this guy is not King George, he's President George," Mr. Reid said.
Republican Senator Jon Kyl, of Arizona, warned: "So I say to my Democratic friends, think carefully about what is being done today. Its impact will be felt well beyond this particular nominee." But the answer from Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein of California was, "It's a very different day and time" than during the Clinton administration's nominations. "There was not the polarization within America that is there today and not the defined move to take this court in a singular direction." It is amazing that the Senator does not recognize that the impeachment of the President was a polarizing event, but since the Court was being dragged in a direction she approved of, Porcupine supposes that the bearing did not seem ‘singular’ to her.
George Bush is a proud conservative (well, somewhat – Porcupine has problems with his social issues as being overly intrusive). Why is he expected to nominate liberal judges? The judicial qualification of his nominee to hold the office is not questioned; in fact, Judge Alito has more experience on the Bench than any other nominee in the last 75 years. Bush will likely have another nominee before the three remaining years of his term are over. The nominee will be a conservative. Please, prepare yourself for this now, before you announce like Claude Rains in ‘Casablanca’ that you are shocked, shocked, to find gambling going on here.
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