Thursday, January 12, 2006

Swan Dive
We may have reached a new low in American dumbitude, given that the big story to come out of the Alito hearings yesterday was that the mean Democrats made Mrs. Alito cry. Except they didn't. It was South Carolina Repug Senator Lindsey Graham who did, by repeating something a Democrat had said about her husband, or some such damn thing. (I confess I haven't spent a lot of time investigating this story on my own because I am afraid that if I get too close to it, I will get stupidity cooties.)

As Mr. Dooley said a hundred years ago, "Politics ain't beanbag," and anybody who thinks it is, or that it should be, is simply naive. Several other bloggers have made the point that it's too bad Mrs. Alito is having a hard time with the hearings--but there will be millions of people who will have harder times than she could ever conceive of if her husband is confirmed to the Supreme Court, and nobody will care when they cry. But in our touchy-feely Oprah-ized culture, one privileged woman's tears end up being far more significant to far more people. And that, folks, is grade-A American dumbitude, the sort of thing that will eventually result in this country not just ending up in history's dumpster, but doing a joyful swan dive into history's dumpster with both eyes wide open.

It's becoming clear that the Democrats have pretty much failed in these hearings to make any headway on Alito's greatest weaknesses--especially the whole Concerned Alumni of Princeton thing. On Roe v. Wade, he says his lines and the Democrats say theirs, but almost everybody knows it's as ritualized as a Japanese tea ceremony. He's leaving the impression that he might not vote to overturn Roe, while everyone in the country, except for some of the Democrats on the panel, knows he will, and at the first chance he gets, or else he wouldn't be sitting in the damn chair to begin with. And on the scariest stuff of all--that he has no problem with expansive, unilaterally exercised, and largely unchecked presidential power--nobody's laid a glove on him since Tuesday.

After hitting his personal nadir of stupidity earlier in the week (but never say never--he could always go lower, I suppose), Joe Biden said something sensible on TV this morning: that maybe such hearings are a waste of time. These certainly are. They don't generate anything meaningful, except the sure and certain knowledge that the average United States Senator, despite the likelihood that he has a law degree, lacks both the legal and rhetorical acumen necessary to argue his way out of a traffic ticket, let alone vet a candidate for a lifetime appointment to the high court.

Although it pains me to say so, Wolf Blitzer had it right yesterday, although in his usual brainless fashion, he made it a slam on Democrats: That Democrats had made up their minds before the hearings began, and weren't really trying to assess Alito's fitness for the court. He didn't say that the Repugs have similarly made up their minds--and that if it were Harriet Miers sitting at that little red table, they'd be just as deferential to her as they've been to Alito. And so the whole thing is a sham and an embarrassment, and I'm done writing about it. At least for now.

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