If this were a boxing match, the referee would stop it.
The conventional wisdom going into the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the elevation of Samuel Alito to an Associate Justice position on the Supreme Court was that Alito was bright but lacked the smoothness and polish of John Roberts. Republicans worried that the attack-dog methods of Senators Kennedy and the other Democratic partisans on the committee might rattle Alito into committing a gaffe that could be used against him. But going into the fourth day, Alito is pitching a shutout, while his Democratic inquistors are in disarray. This low-key, thoughtful man stands in sharp contrast to his shrill, pompous and downright nasty interrogators.
The mistake that the Democrats make is that they think that the appointment of judges is political. It isn't. To quote Michael Goodwin:
While Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) tried to portray his rulings as evidence of a sweeping anti-liberty philosophy, Alito kept coming back to the facts of each case. If nothing else, the hearing illustrated how political ideologues differ from good judges. The former start with the result they want and ignore the facts, while judges like Alito apply the law to facts to reach a just conclusion.
Bingo! That the Democrats, unable to win at the ballot box, have to rely on the judiciary to enact their agenda is an open secret.
Most of the news broadcasts covering the hearings today led with Martha-Ann Alito crying during yesterday's proceedings. Opinion Journal weighs in on the matter:
It's a sign of how little Democrats have on Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito that on Day Three of his confirmation hearings they were still pounding away on his membership in an obscure Princeton alumni group that flowered briefly at the judge's alma mater. They can't touch him on credentials or his mastery of jurisprudence, so they're trying to get him on guilt by ancient association.
Senators Ted Kennedy and Chuck Schumer did their best yesterday to imply that Judge Alito was racist and sexist by linking the nominee with the views of some members of Concerned Alumni of Princeton, which back in the 1970s and 1980s took issue with university policies on coeducation and affirmative action. The questioning was mean enough that Judge Alito's wife left the hearing room after GOP Senator Lindsey Graham apologized for the comments of his fellow Senators. "Are you really a closet bigot?" Mr. Graham asked the nominee. "No, sir, you're not."
This confirmation isn't about legal issues, it's about politics. At least as far as the Senate Democrats are concerned. Left wing organizations increasingly provide the money the Democrats need. Thus, the need for the spectacles that poor Samuel Alito has suffered through this week. Prisoners in Gitmo are treated better than he was. But this will all end soon. And the Miers debacle will be forgotten. Another good and able person will be on the Supreme Court.
UPDATE: I've been discovered! Thanks SlantRight!
Photo C/O National Review Online