Thursday, January 12, 2006

Alito Process – Initial Reactions

He’s coming across as an extremist and an ideologue; he seems bitter, mean spirited, and is making his “side” look bad. But enough about Sen. Kennedy…

All kidding aside, I’ve always admired Ted Kennedy because he is, at the very least, consistent and clear in his views. However, in this very public forum, he is a living characature of what many Republicans have accused the Democrats of being – essentially whiny little children who will do anything to get their way.

Unfortunately, this detracts from the rest of the Democrats who have done an admirable job bringing the important issues to the forefront of the discussion. Sen. Feinstein in particular deserves credit for engaging Judge Alito concerning important issues and doing so on a layman’s level. Sen. Biden has been amusing, and though a bit aggressive he has done it much less mean-spiritedly than Sen. Kennedy.

As for Judge Alito, he has been calm and cool, clearly knowledgeable on case law and able to respond maturely to criticism. I’ve been surprised at the number of questions he has answered, though some critical issues remain open-ended. Still, I fear the saying that “in a Democracy, the people get the government they deserve” will come true; Alito is clearly a Conservative in the mold of Scalia and Thomas, just as Bush promised prior to his reelection. However, I think he’s too mild mannered and “normal” not to ultimately be confirmed.

I don’t know if the Dems will decide to filibuster or not – I think if they do it is a great political risk. A much better tact for blocking his confirmation would be to launch a massive public relations campaign in order pressure enough moderate (particularly pro-choice) Republicans to block him on an up or down vote. I do not think this will happen. It is too early to make a prediction as to the final Senate vote, but I expect it to be much closer than the Roberts vote, as Dems position themselves to maintain or increase their appeal to Americans who support Roe v. Wade, a group that remains a clear majority nationwide.


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