January 15, 2006

A classic strategy for the unglamorous Supreme Court nominee.

The AP's Donna Cassata sums up the Alito hearings quite aptly:
The unflappable Alito gave his detractors little ammunition in days of testimony, offering a recitation of the facts of appellate court cases when Democrats sought personal opinions. He provided basic tenets that few would challenge - no president or court is above the law, court decisions on integration and privacy were correct, and the principle of one man, one vote, should prevail.

Senators were unable to elicit much more even though Alito had a long paper trail from the appellate court....

Senators pressed Alito on executive power, particularly in light of the revelation that Bush had secretly authorized the National Security Agency to wiretap Americans as part of the fight against terrorism. The nominee spoke of constitutional authority and congressional prerogatives, but he gave no hints of how he might rule.
Alito really did have a perfect strategy to win in his showdown with the Senators. And it wasn't devious or evasive. He insisted on talking about the issues they raised in the terms of a judge's careful legal analysis. This analysis tends to be rather tedious, even when you speak crisply and avoid any padding. Proceeding in this fashion, Alito looked smart and scrupulously judicial, yet he powerfully thwarted his opponents -- by boring us! The Alito hearings will stand as a model for how an unglamorous nominee -- a not-Roberts -- can prevail.

9 comments:

XWL said...

It would only work with a jurist with a lengthy unglamorous, consistently judicious record, and steady temperament.

How many of those are out there on either political pole?

(Assuming the Dems one day might get their chance again)

David said...

of course they would have to the depth and breadth of knowledge that Alito showed. Watching Cspan replays of the events, the one thing that struck me was the command Alito had of the facts of the cases before him.

There is not prepping for that - you either know it or not. And he had the info down cold. I found that impressive, not boring

Bruce Hayden said...

I agree that not every judicial nominee could pull this off. Judge Alito seems to be the ultimate law nerd. He revels in the legal minutia that bore even most of us attorneys.

Which means that it was futile to attack him on his home ground. No Senator would, I think, have been able to beat him there. Not just that he is probably smarter than pretty much all of them, but also, they aren't paid to do this, and he has been for much of his legal career.

If the Democrat Senators ever had a law school prof in their midst, then maybe he/she might have a chance. But they are hampered in that their staff, some of whom might be able to compete with a Judge Alito here, aren't the ones doing the cross-examination. Rather, it is the Senators themselves, who are ill suited for this.

bearbee said...

david said:
"And he had the info down cold. I found that impressive, not boring"

Agree

Jake said...

I wonder what bozo made the decision to spend so much time on a satirical article in CAP that made fun of privileged students just like Kennedy. Of course, rich and powerful Democrats would never recognize satire when it was making fun of them.

The Democrats might have gained some traction if they would have used their time to examine Alito's long paper trail instead.

HaloJonesFan said...

So...the best way to show yourself worthy of a Supreme Court justiceship is by behaving like a Supreme Court Justice ought to. Astounding!

Robert said...

Alito really did have a perfect strategy to win in his showdown...

Yes, inside the beltway, they call it "stonewalling."

vnjagvet said...

Robert, stonewalling is not answering questions in detail and with precision which is what Alito did.

His answers provided more than enough information for experienced questioners to drill down to more specific information.

To do this, however, they had to be listening to and noting the answers rather than trying to read their scripted questions no matter what the witness said.

David said...

"I wonder what bozo made the decision to spend so much time on a satirical article in CAP that made fun of privileged students just like Kennedy. Of course, rich and powerful Democrats would never recognize satire when it was making fun of them."

Duh, it was Rove!