November 3, 2005

Getting comfortable about Alito.

The Washington Times reports on the increasing "comfort level" Democratic senators have about Alito. Senator Durbin talks about his feelings:
In terms of his own comfort level with the nominee, Mr. Durbin said Judge Alito fell somewhere between Harriet Miers -- whose nomination was withdrawn last week -- and John G. Roberts Jr. -- who is now chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Justice Roberts was the "Elvis of Supreme Court nominees," Mr. Durbin said, and Miss Miers was so uncomfortable that it made him feel uncomfortable.

"I never got the feeling that she wanted to be in that chair," he said. "I think she was following the request of a president she admires very much to pursue this and she was very concerned she would say the wrong thing."
The "comfort" question is supposed to have to do with whether Democrats are feeling alarmed about the nominee's ideological slant, but this makes it seem more like an inquiry into the nominee's social graces.

Interesting, isn't it, how much Durbin seems to think he could read Harriet Miers's mind? He was uncomfortable. She was uncomfortable. Was he uncomfortable because she was uncomfortable? Or was she uncomfortable because he was uncomfortable? Or did he think she was uncomfortable because he was uncomfortable?

And will we ever come back to the question whether some of the opposition to her really was sexism? Well, her qualifications were so poor that she deserved to be opposed, and any sexism in the mix was overkill. That may keep us from ever delving into the gender politics of this nomination. But inside this "comfort" metaphor may be echoes of longing for that oh-so-comfortable old boys' club.

10 comments:

Freeman Livingood said...

Sexism had nothing to do with the Harriet Miers nomination, other than an attempt to molify political corrctness by the Whitehouse. Even Alito is a timid response to the vacancy. He's fine.....but it's time to nominate someone without consulting the direction of the wind. Why not nominate a filibuster proof Janet Rogers Brown. Now there's the appropriate response to any correctness worries. Let the other side explain their opposition to her.

Alcibiades said...

Come now, Ann. That's projection. You don't think that Durbin has female colleagues with whom he works, with whom he has a comfortable and collegial relationship? And that he can tell the difference? Picking up on the comfort level of an individual is not that difficult. By all accounts, she was very unsure of her ground on constitutional law in her discussions with Senators. That fact, compounded by the criticism she was receiving in Republican circles and on the internet, would render tons of people uncomfortable. Not everyone has the correct disposition to bluff their way through those circumstances. Even more in the case for such a perfectionist type as Harriet Miers is reputed to be, where she would be highly conscious of her own flaws.

Why is a man saying a woman is uncomfortable an occasion to turn the guns of feminism back on him? Isn't that thinking inside the box - with the old time narrative?

APF said...

I've been in interviews where afterwards I've been told the interviewer was turned-off/made uncomfortable by my "nervousness." Miers seemed over her head from the beginning, and this was so important, and there was such a focus on her, I don't find it unreasonable that she was more uncomfortable than I was trying to find an entry-level position...

37383938393839383938383 said...

Miers made me uncomfortable, and her sex had nothing to do with it. I didn't realize she was a woman until all of sexism charges started flying. I honestly thought she was just a Texan dude with a mullet.

Allah said...

Justice Roberts was the "Elvis of Supreme Court nominees," Mr. Durbin said

Durbin voted against him!

Not an Elvis fan, I guess.

TW Andrews said...

I don't think there's any real evidence that the hostility towards Miers was sexist.

Some of the real fire-breathing, dyed-in-the-wool conservative judges which conservatives were hoping for are female, most particularly Janice Rogers Brown.

Additionally, there wasn't any of the sort of rhetoric that typically disguises sexist motivations. Nothing along the lines of "she'll be soft on X" or "we need a justice who will use her head not her heart."

I think the ire would have been similar (or greater) if Gonzalas had been nominated, dispite his somewhat clearer qualifications.

PatCA said...

I don't think it was sexism except in a really tangential way: her persona is that of a sweet and religious pre-feminist woman. And yet the oh-so-cutting edge Dems championed her as their choice. It was a culture clash.

jeff said...

When are people going to accept that it's likely that JRB _didn't_ want to be nominated? At least not this time around.

She's barely got her new seat up to body temperature as is.

wildaboutharrie said...

"And yet the oh-so-cutting edge Dems championed her as their choice."

Not sassing you, sincere question patca - who championed her? Reid said she should be considered, I remember that...

I agree it wasn't sexist, more upsetting on a viceral level, pundits picking on your favorite maiden aunt.

PatCA said...

When Leahy, Reid, etc., went to the White House, they agreed to her, and Feinstein agreed to her...for a Republic nominee, that constitutes championing, I think.