January 12, 2006

On making the nominee's wife cry.

There's lots of talk today about Alito's wife's succumbing to tears yesterday. It's interesting that she lost control when Senator Lindsey Graham was being supportive and sympathetic, chewing out the nasty Democrats who smeared her husband. But it isn't surprising. It's natural to maintain your steely surface during an attack, and then to collapse into the arms of the person who stretches out his arms to you with compassion. But the outstretched arms were only metaphorical. Senator Graham did not come down from behind his fortress of a table to comfort her, and her own husband could not turn around to soothe her. She was left exposed, on camera, and all she could do was run away.

The hearings do need to be tough. They don't need to be as obnoxious as they've been, but they should be vigorous and searching. The odd thing is that we expect a wife to sit behind her husband, unable to participate, just a backdrop of support. It's strange the way wives are used in politics to create an image for the man. In the business world, a man bringing his wife along to sit with him for a job interview would be out of his mind.

Of course, husbands sit with female nominees too. But we have yet to see a nasty hearing for a female Supreme Court nominee. Imagine if the Senators were saying awful things about a woman while her husband sat behind her. Would he glower just enough that the Senators wouldn't dare go too far? Would there come a point when this man would lose emotional control? Would he cry and run off? Would he step forward and say How dare you talk to my wife that way? That would be some new political theater.

ADDED COMMENTARY: Alito's wife's crying works to his advantage:

1. It lends credibility to the Republican's spin on the hearings that the Democrats went way out of line with their questions.

2. It gives the impression that the Democrats lack compassion and concern for women, which is exactly the opposite of what they've been trying to express through attacking Alito.

3. It humanizes Alito, as a man with a sensitive wife.

4. It made the best news story of the day, overshadowing whatever message the Democrats might have hoped would capture the public's attention, like Senator Kennedy bulging with concern about the Concerned Alumni for Princeton.

79 comments:

DEC said...

You can't run with the big dogs if you act like a puppy.

PDS said...

What I would give to see a nominee point his finger at one of the senators and say "what exactly are you implying Mr. Biden?" or, "you of all people, Mr. Kennedy, should know that innocuous associations from 20+ years ago can be used as a pretext for smears," etc.

There is something especially pernicious about the present day requirment that a nominee sit idly by while his life and his integrity are being questioned by strangers hawking for the camera. The "yessah, massah" subtext to it is most disturbing of all.

Pogo said...

dec said: You can't run with the big dogs if you act like a puppy.

dec is quite wrong, but pds is on target.

The more accurate statement would be:
You can't run with the big dogs unless you act like a puppy.

"Thank you sir! May I have another?" Advise and consent has become merely a Senate hazing ritual.

Heck, why don't we just see how much Alito can drink before passing out? It'd be more fun.

Kevin

Ann Althouse said...

There were news reports before the hearings that said Alito was capable of losing his cool. The Democrats probably think they might get him to react, so they're pushing it. But the wife reacted! Priceless!

Simon said...

Perhaps we can use it as a metric for the progress of equality. When Senators feel as able to savagely tear into the record and personal integrity of a female nominee on national television as they do a male nominee, we'll know we've arrived at equality.

Simon said...

Incidentally, Ann notes that "her own husband could not turn around to soothe her," and it's been pointed out in various places that Alito didn't lose his cool. I've never been in that room, and I've no idea what the aoustics are like. Isn't it entirely possible that Alito didn't KNOW that his wife broke into tears until AFTER it had happened, since he had his back to her and was no doubt concentrating very hard on feigning interest in what Sen. Graham was saying?

Wade_Garrett said...

I don't see how Alito's wife's tears make the Democrats appear as if they're insensitive towards women. Sometimes women cry when their husbands are criticized! Ask the wife of any politician or coach. Sometimes, husbands cry when their wives are attacked. Its human nature. I don't think many people are drawing the conclusion that because Alito's wife happened to cry that Democrats are insensitive to women.

Wade_Garrett said...

Carrying that point to its extreme, when the Republicans attacked Hillary Clinton, and Bill Clinton got pissed off about it, did that mean that the Republicans came across as insensitive towards males?

Art said...

It didn't hurt Alito when Matt Drudge put up a false headline and left it up there long after it had been knocked down.
Lots of people do believe everything they read...as long it's what they want to believe.

This is a case where the public is the loser.
I happen to believe Alito will reverse Roe v. Wade when he gets the chance. A majority of Americans supposedly doesn't want that to happen.
Democrats who have a right to competent senators asking tough questions instead got a bunch of grandstanding oafs (I don't include Russ Feingold in that category.)
No wonder the public is sick lawmakers of both stripes.

Ann Althouse said...

Simon: I agree that Alito couldn't see (or hear) his wife's reaction. But he knew she was there, and he was forced by the situation to ignore her and keep his back to her all day. She could be thinking, here's the man that would normally comfort me and take care of me and he can't right now. That might make her feel like crying.

Ann Althouse said...

Art: I really don't think Roe will be overturned.

I agree that Feingold is handling his questioning very well. He's a decent guy and he's also (unlike some of the others) capable of figuring out the right approach and actually asking a good line of questions.

DEC said...

Ann: "She could be thinking, here's the man that would normally comfort me and take care of me and he can't right now."

Ann, it would be a nice touch to add violin music to that comment.

Fritz said...

Democrats didn't defeat Bork by attacking his character, Bork defeated himself by displaying his poor judgment. This character assassination of good people is further evidence that the Democratic Party has lost it's moral clarity. Alito's wife's tears only reflect that truth. I couldn't wait for the 6 am east coast feed of the Today Show, I knew this episode would lead. Democrats are now on the defensive and rightly so.

Jacques Cuze said...

There is something especially pernicious about the present day requirment that a nominee sit idly by while his life and his integrity are being questioned by strangers hawking for the camera. The "yessah, massah" subtext to it is most disturbing of all.

But this is the logical conclusion of the illogical premise that judges cannot answer real questions. Put an end to that bit of idiocy and Senators will no longer have any reason or incentive to dig up dirt in this fashion.

What we have right now are judges that participate in the gaming of the system. Sounds downright activist to me.

Brendan said...

You can't run with the big dogs if you act like a puppy.

I'm confused. Is she running for something? Do you consider her "fair game"?

Simon said...

Ann:
"Art: I really don't think Roe will be overturned."

Yes, but as I commented yesterday, quite aside from whether it will be overturned, do you think it is "settled law"? Or would you suggest that those two propositions are actually the same thing - that a case becomes settled law when the court is no longer able or willing to overturn it, rather than because it has attained any kind of public acceptance?

I'm shamelessly fishing for a response on this point. ;)

Mark Daniels said...

When I talked in comments here yesterday about how my wife would bag attending hearings after the Senators had droned on a bit, I didn't mean I thought that she would cry. I'd be quicker to cry than my wife in such circumstances. She'd be likely to storm from the room because of the posturing and absurdity of the whole process. She hates phoniness and pretense!

All of which I mention by way of saying that whatever the manifestation, Mrs. Alito probably felt what everybody else felt in that hearing room: She was overwhelmed by being cooped up in a place thick with insufferable egotism and pomposity.

Do his wife's tears help Alito's prospects? It may have caused Democratic senators to back off a bit, taking the edge off of an attack that, at times, appeared to be drawing political blood yesterday. (Particularly when another woman, Dianne Feinstein, was doing the questioning.)

One thing I just remembered: Clarence Thomas' wife cried during his hearings as well. They may have played some small part in his weathering the Anita Hill controversy.

Lesson: Our society is still sexist enough that a woman crying pulls our heart strings. Whether a male's tears still disqualifies him for high office, as happened with Ed Muskie in his bid for the presidency in 1972, is unknown.

Mark Daniels

DEC said...

Re: "You can't run with the big dogs if you act like a puppy."

Brendan said: "I'm confused. Is she running for something?"

One definition of the word "run" is "to keep company." Look it up in Webster's Online Dictionary.

EddieP said...

Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Not to curtail abortion, but to put it back in the state legislatures where it belongs. Like alcohol, medical marijuana, should be decided by the citizens of the individual states.

Janet Rae Montgomery said...

Is this a good line of questioning from Senator Feingold? Does it even make sense?

AP report 1/12/06:
Seven appellate judges who have worked with Samuel Alito told the Senate Judiciary Committee he would be an independent and ethical Supreme Court justice if confirmed - endorsements that some Democrats say pose a potential conflict of interest.

"I think it may raise something of an ethical issue for you," Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin told Alito. "Will you have to recuse yourself from any case where one of these judges was involved in" a decision appealed to the Supreme Court?

Alito demurred.
"That's not a question that I've given any thought to before this minute, senator, so I don't know that I could answer it and I would want to answer any recusal question very carefully," he said.

Majority Republicans on the Judiciary Committee swiftly distributed a fact sheet making the case that it's common for judges to testify at confirmation hearings. Judges from appellate and district courts have testified at confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas and the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist. In 1986, Chief Justice Warren Burger testified on behalf of Reagan appointee Robert Bork, whose nomination was rejected by the Senate.

Judiciary Committee Democrats, arguing that the testimony is improper, pointed out a quote from the judicial code of ethics: "A judge shall not testify as a character witness."

Pastor_Jeff said...

Mark,

I couldn't tell if your comment about sexism and a woman's tears pulling on our heartstrings was critical or merely observational.

Personally, I'm glad that many people still find it objectionable when pompous jerks drive a woman to tears.

Davidwarner said...

Fritz said...

This character assassination of good people is further evidence that the Democratic Party has lost it's moral clarity. Alito's wife's tears only reflect that truth.

Fritz, come on. The Senators did their job and asked uncomfortable questions probing the mans character. Reasonable people can disagree about whether Alito's record and past were clearly beyond reproach. And though the Democratic Party is a far from perfect organization, their counterparts in our two-party system are [and have been for some time] far from beacons of moral clarity. Unless you think Watergate, Iran Contra, Abramoff's problems as well as the controversies surrounding this administration merely to be propaganda created by the facile liberal media....If that is your take, then, well, I fear there is little conversation to be had.

DEC said...

PDS: "What I would give to see a nominee point his finger at one of the senators and say 'what exactly are you implying Mr. Biden?' or, 'you of all people, Mr. Kennedy, should know that innocuous associations from 20+ years ago can be used as a pretext for smears,' etc."

We need a careful, thoughful individual on the bench, not an insult comedian like Don Rickles.

Robert said...

I hope that when Ito Alito ma'Peto makes it to the bench and Roe v Wade gets turned back (as in "turn back time") that your loved one is the first to get a back alley, coat hanger abortion and dir from dark arterial, vaginal bleeding.

Davidwarner said...

dec: don rickles would make a kick ass justice.

goober: ewww

Smilin' Jack said...

But he knew she was there, and he was forced by the situation to ignore her and keep his back to her all day. She could be thinking, here's the man that would normally comfort me and take care of me and he can't right now. That might make her feel like crying.

But it would have been so cool if he had turned his back on the committee to comfort her. What are they going to do, call him to order while he's comforting his crying wife? I don't think so. He'd have looked like a hero, and all they could do is sit there, looking and feeling like jackasses.

Pogo said...

How is it sexist to deplore bullying that reduces someone to tears?

That no shame is felt from this, that the only response is "can't stand the heat? Well...", suggests how very inhumane the Democrats have become by demanding lockstep agreement to leftist ideology.

What you're watching is no big deal, then. Just a few eggs being broken, nothing more.

DEC said...

Goober_snatcher: "I hope that when...Roe v Wade gets turned back...that your loved one is the first to get a back alley, coat hanger abortion and dies from dark arterial, vaginal bleeding."

We should reach a compromise on this issue. In the future, we should only abort Democrats.

LoafingOaf said...

The hearings do need to be tough. They don't need to be as obnoxious as they've been, but they should be vigorous and searching.

Vigorous and searching, yes, of course. But must this include the attempt to smear and assasinate the character of someone? And if they're going to treat confirmation hearings as an opportunity to engage in the sort of guilt-by-association tactics that strike me as un-American and something I'd expect in the USSR, then maybe we shouldn't require nominees to have to so passively take it. Trying to paint someone as a bigot when there is no legitimate basis is evil.

I realize if Alito did anything controversial, such as getting angry, he could hurt himself. So it is up to the rest of us to tell these Senators that we do not approve. I'm all for vigorous questioning, but I insist it should be done in a fair and good spirit.

Anyway, I've tried to watch some of the hearings, and I've been impressed with Alito's ability to cite hundreds of cases to knowledgably with no notes, but I must say they have been mostly a waste of my time. Although I guess it is healthy to be reminded that there's no reason to have any special respect for someone who gets into the Senate. They are mostly windbags and jerks.

LoafingOaf said...

I hope that when Ito Alito ma'Peto makes it to the bench and Roe v Wade gets turned back (as in "turn back time") that your loved one is the first to get a back alley, coat hanger abortion and dir from dark arterial, vaginal bleeding.

I remember when Democrats were saying this during the Souter confirmation process, so I don't think anyone knows for sure how Alito will handle abortion. He indicated in the hearings (on those few occasions he could get some words in) that abortion cases are very complex and his statement 20 years ago was just one sentence that did not take into account any of the complixities.

But overturning Roe would simply turn regulating abortion back to the states. I have no idea what I would do if I were on the Court, because while I think Roe was a bad decision that has also had a very negative effect on our democracy (as judicial confirmation hearings prove time and time again), I also agree with those who point out how seriously one should take stare decisis. I also don't think as many Republicans truly want Roe overturned as people believe, because that could have a massive impact on Republican Party's majority-party status.

Simon said...

Janet Rae Montgomery said...
"Majority Republicans on the Judiciary Committee swiftly distributed a fact sheet making the case that it's common for judges to testify at confirmation hearings. Judges from appellate and district courts have testified at confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas and the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist."

That's completely backwards. Specter made the point that it is highly UNUSUAL for judges to testify at these hearings; the examples he gave, quoted above, were intended to underscore how incredibly rare it is, and how unprecedented it is for all of Alito's collagues - liberal and conservative alike - to show such support for the nominee.

The Committee Democrats are objecting because how do you defeat that kind of testimony? How do you rebut the endorsement of a group of liberal judges who have worked with Alito for over a decade? Obviously, one can't. They face the same quandry more broadly: how do you defeat a nominee when the nominee isn't outside the mainstream, is emminently qualified and self-evidently a textbook candidate for the Supreme Court? How do you portray the nominee as being evasive when he has answered almost everything he has been asked, with few exceptions? The answer, of course, is to attempt to smear him, and thus we have the tomfoolery over Vanguard, and the guilt-by-association nonsense of CAP. The flat reality is that they can't even smear Alito: if they had anything that proved he was a corrupt racist asshole, they would have wheeled it out by now, but since they haven't, we have to assume they haven't got it or it doesn't exist. This is it, folks: this is what they've got left to work with.

goober_snatcher said...
"I hope that when...Roe v Wade gets turned back...that your loved one is the first to get a back alley, coat hanger abortion and dies from dark arterial, vaginal bleeding"
Isn't it nice to know that Democrats are able to advocate their policy views by making substantive statements in good faith, respectful of their interlocutors? Boy, there are times - when that moron Fred Phelps opens his mouth - when I genuinely feel embarrassed for the GOP. But then we see people like our friend quoted above, and recall that the other party has its fair share of embarassing, inarticulate morons, too. The world tends to balance itself out.

I mean, really. Truthfully, you think that makes your side look good, look dignified? Like you've got the better argument? That you're very passionate about it? I mean, what goes on in there? What's the logic?

Mark Daniels said...

Pastor Jeff:
I was being observational. Nobody should be driven to tears, male or female.

Mark Daniels

Simon said...

LoafingOaf said...
"I remember when Democrats were saying this during the Souter confirmation process"

Oh, they were a little more articulate. I believe NOW's exact words - because I still have one of the flyers - were "STOP SOUTER OR WOMEN WILL DIE." Of course, that's hugely ironic, in the sense that it's completely true, in a sense; thanks to Souter's handiwork in Casey and Stenberg, millions of women have been slaughtered while in, and immediately after exiting, their mother's womb. But somehow I don't think that's the point that NOW had in mind when they printed the adverts.

Funnily enough, the flyer helpfully suggests at the bottom that the owner should "clip the red block above & tape 'Stop Souter' in rear car window." You know, I rather think that the national right to life committee should notify NOW of their intent to reproduce these flyers and follow the original instructions for use. I'm not even sure that this would constitutute copyright violation - after all, think of it as NOW and THEN. THEN it was NOW that wanted Souter stopped, and NOW it's us. ;)

Brian O'Connell said...

Fred Phelps is a Democrat. He came in second during the 1998 Democratic Party primary election for Kansas governor. It was the third time he'd run.

dick said...

Terence,

When the republicans attacked Hillary Clinton she was the candidate running for the senate. She immediately got tears in her eyes and complained that the republicans were treating her bad. Then she reiterated the comments she had made about her opponent which were far worse than anything he had said about her and far less true.

You might also look at Schumer. When he was running against Al D'Amato, he was running behind. He was making the kind of comments he has been making here and D'Amato called him a putz. Schumer got all hot and bothered because a non-Jew called a Jew a putz and played the victim of anti-semitism. Check back and see it. He got Jewish votes that would normally have gone to D'Amato who was better to the Jews than Schumer has been.

Compare and contrast with the comments about big dogs - pot meet kettle!!

Simon said...

"Fred Phelps is a Democrat. He came in second during the 1998 Democratic Party primary election for Kansas governor. It was the third time he'd run."

Guilt by association. Fred Phelps is the very looniest of the loony fringe of the religious right, and for better or worse, the Republican Party is associated with not only the sensible religious right and the more hardcore devout religious right, but also the loony fringe of the religious right. I'm a moderate, I don't share the views of everyone in that "bloc" of the party, if you like, but there are some elements of it - Falwell, Phelps - who are just so hatefull and disgraceful excuses for human beings that I really do feel a degree of guilt by association. I want to be very careful here to point out that the Democrat meme of the monolithic "religious right" is very silly, because there are different strata within that general group, just as there are intelligent, respectful and principled people in the anti-war movement, and then there are genuine moonbats. Most people who describe themselves as conservative evangelicals that I've met have been noram, decent human beings with whom I simply disagree on certain points, and they have respected that I take a different view. So I want to be clear that my criticism is directed at the loony fringe of the religious right, not the religous right in general.

ChrisO said...

This whole idea that the Democrats made Mrs. Alito cry is a joke, and I have to believe that the Republicans know it, and are just opportunistically taking advantage of the only thing in the hearings the average American can relate to. The Democrats weren't talking to Mrs. Alito, for Christ's sake, and they have nothing to apologize for.

Really, I know it serves your purposes, but can we have a little intellectual honesty here? Even if the Democrats are dead wrong on every count, the emotional tone of the posts here gets ratcheted up by the minute. Really, how "grueling" is this for an adult male to sit through? And "smears?" Please. If his wife can't stand it, let her stay home. Are we seriously suggesting that the way Senators conduct their business should be determined by the reactions of the gallery? I said it kiddingly before, I'll say it seriously now. Should Mrs. Rumsfeld sit behind Donald while McCain is grilling him about torture, and if she runs from the room suddenly McCain is wrong and owes Rumsfeld an apology? Let's grow up a little here.

And I firmly believe the questions being asked of Alito are legitimate. It's nice to dismiss the Vanguard case, but the fact remains that Alito promised to recuse himself because of a clear conflict of interest, then when the time came he didn't. And his only excuse is he "forgot." Now if you want to accept his explanation, fine, but don't tell me the Senators don't even have a right to ask him about it.

And if he was more forthcoming about CAP, then Kennedy wouldn't have to keep digging about it. How many times do I hear Republicans mention Byrd and the KKK, a story that's 60 years old?

If you can't stand a confirmation hearing, then don't accept the nomination.

Elizabeth said...

She could be thinking, here's the man that would normally comfort me and take care of me and he can't right now. That might make her feel like crying.

All I can think is "grow the hell up, honey." What a manipulative bit of public theater.

dick said...

ChrisO,

Interesting that when they went through the CAP magazines and the archives there was absolutely nothing on Alito at all. Is there any wonder then why he was not "up front" on the CAP issue? It was not an issue except in the mind of the senior disgrace from Massachusetts.

Simon said...

"The Democrats weren't talking to Mrs. Alito, for Christ's sake, and they have nothing to apologize for. "
Think of it like this: not only were they saying, on national television that her husband was a vile racist pig, which is reason enough to be upset (and if you aren't happily married, I can understand that this might be a hard concept to grasp), but they acutally were attacking her, because they were saying on national television that she is the kind of person who would get and stay married to a vile racist pig.


"It's nice to dismiss the Vanguard case, but the fact remains that Alito promised to recuse himself because of a clear conflict of interest, then when the time came he didn't. And his only excuse is he "forgot."

I don't see how you could still say that - insofar as it's just a complete misrepresentation of what Alito said happened - if you actually watched the hearings, as opposed to reading a synopsis at Daily Kos. I mean, totally honestly, you either didn't watch the hearings or you're just flat-out making things up, Chris. Alito did not say he forgot, what he said was as follows: the case at issue was procedurally an unusual case. No Judge's chambers had previously needed to look closely at recusal issues, because in each case before the court, a pre-prepared list of parties was circulated by the court, and Judges looked at that list to determine recusal issues. In pro se cases, however, that list was not circulated, and rarely merited attention, since parties to a pro se case would very rarely generate recusal issues. When this one did, Alito took additional steps to make sure it wouldn't happen again, and went so far as to advocate that the verdict in which he participated be vacated. Thi sis, in no way, shape or form "I forgot." Furthermore, it is vaguely preposterous - a point Alito very delicately tried to make - to suggest that after fifteen years, he was still in the "initial" period of his employment as a Judge. It seems to me - and to Alito, in point of fact - that he should still have recused himself from the case, but absolutely not because of the recusal promise.

Again - the reason the dems are using the recusal promise is because of the lack of other ammunition. By using the utterly spurious "broken promise" thing, they reveal that they can't actually even win on the substance of the very issue they raised. The ridiculous thing is, not a single democrat has disputed Alito's handling of the case or his version of the facts as they pertain to third circuit procedure. They just keep repeating the same questions in an angrier tone of voice, seemingly oblivious to Alito's answers. The reason why - because the dems have a script and will follow it, come what may - was vividly demonstrated this morning when Senator Biden complained of Alito's evasiveness and refusal to answer a question Biden did not ask him until later this morning.

I'm sure that is you have any process-oriented components of your job, you will be aware that some things you might technically be supposed to do, but in reality, years of experience has taught you that it simply isn't necessary. In my job, I'm supposed to check every morning to see whether a particular mail server is running; that server has never crashed, period, and so most mornings, I might glance at it if I look at all. I'm sure you can think of analagous situations in your own job.

dearieme said...

"we expect a wife to sit behind her husband, unable to participate, just a backdrop of support": when did this noxious habit enter American public life?

LoafingOaf said...

ChrisO, a hateful and rather talking-points-slavish partisan Democrat, wrote:
And I firmly believe the questions being asked of Alito are legitimate.... And if he was more forthcoming about CAP, then Kennedy wouldn't have to keep digging about it. How many times do I hear Republicans mention Byrd and the KKK, a story that's 60 years old?

Byrd actually was a hardcore racist, as a matter of objective fact. With his KKK history, he had to have more hate in his heart than I can comprehend. The KKK is a terrorist hate group. I will take Byrd's word for it that he has reformed (although I did once see him saying hateful things about atheists on C-SPAN over the Pledge of Allegance debate - he told them to get out of the country...).

Alito has never been a racist; to the extent that anyone can read into someone else's heart, there is zero evidence he's a racist and there's a mountain of evidence that he is not one. There is no legit basis to even bring the idea up that he is a bigot, and it's pure McCathyite evil that they did. If you think it's no big deal to have to sit there as scummy Senators are trying to paint you as a bigot when you are not one, then you are as scummy as they are.

As far as CAP, funny that after Kennedy's big pruduction over subpoenaing records (even though all he had to do was ask), it turns out there was ziltch with which to back up their smears. But even the idea that Alito should be attacked over an article someone else wrote in a magazine is McCarthyite evil. Since you most likely have DailyKos on your fave links list, would you like me to make you "own" everything written on that site by people other than you? And yes, we did all see the item on Drudge before the hearings even started that quoted a Democrat as saying they are about to smear Alito so "stick a fork in him."

Also, some of us have long memories, and we remember how Democrats treated Ginsberg in her hearings when she was farless willing to answer questions about matters likely to come before the court. I recall distinctly Senator Biden making a big deal about how not only does she have a right not to give "previews", but it would be improper for her to do otherwise. So Senator Biden is a liar, as are his fellow Democrat Senators, when they try and suggest Alito was acting improperly in the hearings. Alito has been more responsive to questions than most nominees. Alito is clearly a better man than these jerks trying to assasinate his character. And some of us care about the emotions shown by his wife because we have a sense of decency. Since there was no basis for her husband to be smeared before the world, the scumbuckets who did it should be shamed out of the senate.

AlaskaJack said...

I have it on good authority that ChrisO once visited a bookstore where Mein Kampf was on sale. Hmm!!!

Elizabeth said...

If Theresa Kerry had been shown crying on television over the slurs on her husband's service in Vietnam, the rightwingers would have first laughed uproariously, then offered it up as an example of her unworthiness for the serious job of First Lady.

Likewise, if Laura Bush had been shown crying over the slurs on her husband's wounds in Vietnam..oh wait, never mind.

knoxgirl said...

I agree totally that hearings for any nominee for the Supreme Court should be tough. But can't they be "tough" by asking challenging, searching questions about actual laws or cases?

Instead, it's like they've decided being "tough" means trying to trick him into admitting he's some sort of racist/sexist or whatever, which, let's face it, is patently ridiculous. He never would have got as far as he had if he was some bigoted turd.

akashawn said...

(SHRUG)

I'm sorry I cant get too excited at this. What do people mean, the Senators can't ask tough questions of a candidate for a lifetime appointment to the most powerful post in the land?
we are a long way from asking him if he received a blow job, after all. Put bluntly, if she cant take it, maybe she should support him from home.
There's a process here folks, and if it means hard questions must be asked, then so beit.

i count four firm antiabortion votes if Scalito is confirmed. If Stevens cant hold on, it will soon be five and then Roe will be dead meat.

As to what will happen post Roe-puh-leeze. The Confederacy will ban abortion In Toto within 2 years, with a few Northern states and Utah following suit. Since teenagers are not going to stop having sex on cue, why, they'll be a boom in black market abortions ( Surely, you conservatives know about market forces ....)
Its time to invest in the orphanage business, I say..

akashawn said...

But can't they be "tough" by asking challenging, searching questions about actual laws or cases?

Well, they tried that and he wouldn't answer any questions!
does he believe whether under the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments, a woman has a right to terminate her own pregnancy? If not, why not?

love the love of Pete, why cant he give a straight answer to that one, always being careful to state that any decision on the issue would be based on the particular facts?
That question has been asked of him a dozen times and each time he weaselled out. If he won't discuss the law, then of course we will discuss his private life.

Wade_Garrett said...

Elizabeth - I agree. This could easily have been public theater intended to make the Democrats look bad.

Dick - Actually I used to work for Senator Schumer! I know what happened in the campaign, but bear in mind that this was not the first arguably racist thing D'Amato had done -- remember that terrible video of him imitating Judge Ito, in the OJ Simpson murder trial, in that pidgin Engrish accent? When Ito spoke in unaccented english? There are other examples. I don't know how many Jewish votes Schumer gained in that ordeal; probably not very many. Perhaps some moderate christians found it offensive and changed their vote.

Also, the attacks on Hillary began WAY before she was running for President. If Bill found them offensive, then clearly the GOP is out to hurt men's feelings.

ChrisO said...

I'm sure it's pleasing to portray the CAP issue in such simplistic terms, but the fact is that Alito didn't "visit a bookstore" or read a blog, he joined the group, then mentioned it in a job application years later as a positive. No, that doesn't make him a racist. It doesn't even make him a bad person. But to list membership in the group on a job application, then claim that you have absolutely no recollection of it when it becomes uncomfortable to talk about, seems more than a little weaselly.

And in the Vanguard case, I stand corrected. He didn't say he "forgot." He said it was an "oversight." Oh, he didn't say that yesterday. He's moved on to other explanations. The fact remains that he explicitly said he would recuse himself, then didn't. He didn't have a list a mile long of companies that were a conflict. Vanguard was all over the case. How sharp was he to miss that? And he didn't voluntarily recuse himself. The plaintiff had to get his financial records, then petition for recusal, which he initially resisted.

My point isn't that any of these issues disqualify him. It's that the Senators have every right to ask him about them, and when he's less than forthcoming, to press him on the issues.

It's funny, for all of the smear accusations, I have yet to read a single actual quote that could be construed as accusing him of being a racist or a bigot. I freely admit to not having watched every moment of the hearings, so I look forward to a few of those scurrilous quotes being posted here.

And for all you tender hearted Republicans comparing yourselves so favorably to us hard-hearted Dems, please tell me who has been abused more: Laura Bush, Hilary Clinton or Teresa Heinz-Kerry? I think it's a little late to start declaring yourselves sympathetic to the feelings of political wives..

Yevgeny Vilensky said...

First, let's get some facts straight:

In the Vanguard case, Alito had no requirement to recuse himself (other than the supposed "promise"), because under the judicial code of conduct mutual fund holdings are exempt unless you actually have ownership stake in the management company (go read it yourself). Saying that he has to recuse himself from Vanguard cases is sort of like saying that someone who has a checking account at Chase Manhattan bank has to recuse himself from any case involving JP Morgan Chase. Or better yet, if you drive a Chevy, you have to recuse yourself from cases involving GM. He's a customer of Vanguard not an owner.

As to the promise, the promise was, technically for an initial period. And yes, he did have many names on his recusal list. Also, if your claim is that there was something sinister about his lack of recusal, could you please explain how he could have benefited from it? Finally, out of more than a thousand recusals, he missed one. Does that make an ethically-challenged judge? Also, how do you square your claims with the ABA's unanimous decision to give him a well-qualified rating, which considered this particularly case and concluded there was nothing to it.

Second, I do not recall Republican Senators en masse making public statements at Senate hearings smearing Bill Clinton with lies. Neither do I remember Republican Senators saying that Kerry didn't fight honorably (in fact, I recall the opposite). What a fringe hatchet group does is one thing, what Senators and public officials do on national television is another. I doubt that Alito's wife cares much about what PFAW says about him. But it's different when it comes from the mouth of Senators in televised hearings.

Third, regarding the CAP, even if CAP was as vile as everyone says it was, I'm sorry but Ted Kennedy has no credibility whatsoever on the issue of past ethical challenges being used to undermine current character. The man killed a woman for godsakes, by depraved indifference.

Fourth, Elizabeth, given that you teach in a women's and gender studies department and are a self-proclaimed feminist, how would you react if someone referred to you as "honey?" I'm afraid, you'd hold a candlelight vigil and talk about our sexist society.

Fifth, all of you who are saying that "well, if he had answered questions about his jurisprudential philosophy, then all that remains are personal attacks." Well, let me turn that around. If the Democrats (and their handlers at Yale Law School) didn't think that anyone who doesn't agree with them on every single judicial issue is an out-of-the-mainstream fascist bigot, then maybe he'd be more forthcoming about his philosophy.

I also didn't hear Orrin Hatch attacking Ruth Ginsberg for being a Communist (for having joined the ACLU) after she declined to answer numerous questions about her philosophy. (I'm not saying that the ACLU is a Communist organization or that membership in it indicates such, but given that it did have a Communist problem early in its history one could unfairly characterize ACLU members as such... much in the same way they have characterized Alito for his membership in CAP).

Pooh said...

I don't think I've ever been more disappointed by the lack of sense possessed by the American public than from this inane concern about whether this woman cried. First of all, CAP is an issue. It should have been a small one, but a non-denial denial makes it look like he's hiding something when I'm 99.9% sure he isn't. Second, did his family expect the Senators to roll over and ask for a belly-rub? Third, how the hell is her crying relevant to anything in the known universe? Does it have any bearing on Alito's fitness for the bench?

But since we live in a culture where asking hard questions is "partisanship" I guess this is the worst thing that's happened since Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction.

Elizabeth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Elizabeth said...

Yevgeny, pumpkin, we're being asked to be upset that those mean, nasty Democrats made Alito's poor widdle wife weep with their rude questions.

As a feminist, I hold women to be responsible adults, and I make no apologies for saying she needs to grow up and act like one. Her husband's in the crucible, being tested to join the most elite and exalted of our judicial branch of government; she should show some spine, not get all fluttery. If she hasn't the stomach for the process, it's no one's fault and her tears shouldn't be made into political fodder.

I'm from the south, sweetie; we use honey, baby, sweetie, etc. like salt and pepper, and I'm called any number of such terms nearly every day., by men and women, older and younger than myself. It's about context. Perhaps in your imagination, there a single, feminist dogma. In the real world, it's more complicated.

Brian L. Frye said...

Simon said:
"...it is highly UNUSUAL for judges to testify at these hearings..."

I'm no expert on the nomination process. But when McKenna was nominated in the late 19th century, several of his colleagues on the federal bench in CA wrote letters to the president and CJ Fuller warning of his incompetence. And those letters were read on the floor by a couple of senators. Not testimony exactly. But a pretty good turn of the century approximation. And while there was some protest to their introduction, it went more to decorum than legitimacy...

As an aside, in McKenna's case, I think his colleagues concerns were amply justified, as McKenna was among the least competent justices in the history of the court. Taft called his opinions "Cubistic."

LoafingOaf said...

ChrisO: If I were as partisan as you, I would be sending Thank You notes to the Democrat Senators, because they didn't succeed in killing Alito's nomination or destroying his reputation, but they did succeed in making themselves look like asses. However, as an American, I honestly tuned in to the hearings hoping for something better than that vile display. I feel the same way when I see Democrats treated unfairly.

bearbee said...

Speaking of running with the big dogs, Newshour interviewee Ronald Allen professor at Northwestern University's School of Law in Chicago thought the committee members unsophisticated in their questioning and that it was an uneven fight:
NewsHour

Hamsun56 said...

Anyone know if Clarence Thomas' wife was present at his confirmation hearings,when he was called back after Anita Hill? I can't recall that being an issue.

brylin said...

Kos wasted no time in claiming that Mrs. Alito's tears were contrived.

Like I said yesterday morning, I think the Dems are in damage control mode and that the general public is revulsed at the behavior of the Donkey Senators.

I'm waiting to see the polling data on the tears.

Goesh said...

I fail to see how expressing emotion is "losing control". It didn't cause a disruption.

knoxgirl said...

"This could easily have been public theater intended to make the Democrats look bad."

You guys actually think that Mrs. Alito crying is what makes the democrats look bad?!

...otherwise their performance would have been widely praised...

? ? ?

OhioAnne said...

Why ARE we discussing Alito's wife's tears?

Oh, that's right .... because there is nothing else of note to discuss about the hearings themselves.

There are quite literally dozens of reason unrelated to the hearings that could have been the reason just as there is another dozen reasons related to the hearings that could have created the tears. NO ONE but her knows why.

She did not sit there and sob uncontrollably (which, I agree, would have been weird), but got up and left the hearing for a few minutes to compose herself - a reasonable, rational and adult thing to do = and then returned.

End of story.

The one reason that I don't buy for her leaving is that the senators were asking "hard" questions.

Look at the time breakdowns. Any senator who spent more than a third of his/her time speaking - rather than allowing Alitio to respond - was derelict in their duty in my opinion regardless of their party affiliation. I want them to grill him on his judicial decisions. He is up for a lifetime appointment and better be able to explain himself.

What I don't to hear is Ted Kennedy (etc.) lecturing someone else on the morals of their behavior 30 years ago.

And for all you tender hearted Republicans comparing yourselves so favorably to us hard-hearted Dems, please tell me who has been abused more: Laura Bush, Hilary Clinton or Teresa Heinz-Kerry? I think it's a little late to start declaring yourselves sympathetic to the feelings of political wives..

All three listed are adult women who chose to marry the men they married. They made the decision to stay with the one they married.

What's your point?

TidalPoet said...

To Elizapumpkin, honey:

I do love it when feminists claim geographic location is a distinction for sexist word choice. My second most favorite is when they choose context as their next excuse.

I've known good men to lose their jobs because of those same words. And context mattered not a bit.

Ann Althouse said...

Andrew: "Anyone know if Clarence Thomas' wife was present at his confirmation hearings,when he was called back after Anita Hill? I can't recall that being an issue."

Yes, his wife was there, and the cameras caught her with tears in her eyes. Of course, that was an effective image. Imagine if she'd absented herself after the charges that were made against him.

reader_iam said...

If some of these senators don't quit going on the way they do, we ALL will be bored to tears.

Word verification: kscvewfi

A word combining the meaning of "hooey" and "kerfuffle."

brylin said...

An interesting quote from a moderate Democrat (Peter Beinart of The New Republic), which may go a long way toward explaining tear-causing behavior (and the posts of people like Quxxo):

"For Kos [... and those like him] liberalism means confrontation, at least in the Bush era. In their view, politics should be guided by the spirit of war. If you don't want to crush conservatives, you are not a liberal."

Hat tip to the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz.

ChrisO said...

"All three listed are adult women who chose to marry the men they married. They made the decision to stay with the one they married.

What's your point?"

OK, I'll try to be clearer. The two Democratic wives have been treated terribly by the Republicans, while the Democrats have been much nicer to Laura Bush. And the beating up of Hilary started well before she even indicated she would run for public office. As for the point about the women choosing to be with the men they married, are you implying that the same doesn't apply to Mrs. Alito?

And yevgeny, as long as we're getting facts straight, Vanguard describes it's investors as owners, so your parallel to a checking account at Chase is not appropriate. And I wasn't aware that when Alito made his promise to the committee, it wasn't a promise, it was a "promise," as if it didn't actually count. And again, my point isn't that he committd some horrible crime by not recusing himself. My point is that he offered several different explanations for not recusing himself, yet Republicans seem to feel that the Democrats have no right to even question him about it.

The same with CAP. People keep crowing about the fact that his name doesn't appear anywhere in the CAP papers, but continue to gloss over the fact that he listed his mmembership on a job application several years later. So what this shows is that he may not have meant much to CAP, but they meant something to him. But when confronted with negative information about CAP's philosophy, he claims he can't even remember the group. I'm sorry, but this stretches credibility.

Again, this doesn't make him a bigot. But in an era where government nominees have been derailed because they didn't pay taxes for their nanny, how can anyone seriously claim that the Democrats are out of bounds for questioning him about it?

As for comments that I'm "such a partisan," please. Does anyone really think that anything in these hearings could have caused Cornyn, or Coburn, or Brownback or Sessions to vote against Alito? He's the Republican nominee, so the Democrats are scrutinizing him. I'm sure the Republicans would have been happy to have a one-day meet and greet, followed by a vote. Don't worry, the shoe will be on the other foot soon enough.

brylin said...

Whoops. I didn't read the whole Kurtz piece when I made the above post. Ann Althouse (her exact comment here) is quoted favorably therein about 2/3 of the way down.

Now it's a must-read.

Goatwhacker said...

And yevgeny, as long as we're getting facts straight, Vanguard describes it's investors as owners, so your parallel to a checking account at Chase is not appropriate.

I have several accounts at Vanguard (kids college, etc) and to describe me as an owner would be completely inaccurate. The analogy to a checking account is much more appropriate.

bearbee said...

"Don't worry, the shoe will be on the other foot soon enough."

That shoe has already been on that foot.

It is a pity that civility is lost and that our politics are bordering on the dysfunctional......

John(classic) said...

This gives the whole thing a farcical tone -- at least if everyone had not taken it seriously:
http://blogs.abcnews.com/downanddirty/2006/01/cap_smear.html

"D'Souza worked for CAP from 1983 to 1985, editing CAP's controversial Prospect magazine. He said a number of the Democratic attacks on Samuel Alito were based on falsehoods.

First off, D'Souza says, one of the two stories from Prospect that Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-MA, read this week at the confirmation hearings was intended as a satire.

The 1983 essay "In Defense of Elitism" by Harry Crocker III included this line, read dramatically by Kennedy: "People nowadays just don't seem to know their place. Everywhere one turns blacks and hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and hispanic..."

The essay may not have been funny, D'Souza acknowledges, but Kennedy read from it as if it had been serious instead of an attempt at humor.

"I think left-wing groups have been feeding Senator Kennedy snippets and he has been mindlessly reciting them," D'Souza said. "It was a satire." "

Henry said...

First of all, CAP is an issue. It should have been a small one, but a non-denial denial makes it look like he's hiding something when I'm 99.9% sure he isn't.

Pooh -- that's just nonsensical. Are you saying he's lying about the fact that he isn't hiding something?

I agree that CAP was an issue once, when first raised. It is disturbing to see it on Alito's job application in 1985. The Senate did need to pursue it and Alito needed to address it. Which leaves us here:

Fact: There's no mention of Alito in any of CAP's archives, supporting Alito's claim that for whatever reason he joined, he was never involved in any way.

Fact: Alito never took part in any of the discriminatory social traditions at Princeton that CAP sought to prepetuate.

Fact: No evidence exists that Alito is lying about not remembering CAP. Alito has honestly said that if he put CAP on his job application he must have been a member. Since he says he remembers nothing more about it, he has hypothesized that he might have joined CAP because CAP supported ROTC against calls for its removal from campus.

Fact: CAP did indeed support ROTC against calls for it to be removed from campus.

Until you guys pull out the mind-reading ray-gun, that's all you've got. And if that's all you've got, you've got nothing. The issue is closed.

* * *

Likewise the Vanguard issue is closed. Either you're arguing that Alito is dishonest because he didn't recuse himself, something the ABA specifically disavows. Or you're arguing that he's dishonest because in a case that did not clearly warrant recusal, Alito forgot his promise to recuse himself from cases clearly warranting recusal.

And guess what, Alito admits, despite the peculiarities of the case, he was wrong. Is there a pattern of Alito not recusing himself appropriately? Uh...No. Is there any other evidence whatsoever that Alito is corrupt or untrustworthy. None whatsoever.

If you think there's more evidence on either of these issues, feel free to go find it. See you later.

GWPDA said...

How is it possible to be so utterly jejeune?

Yevgeny Vilensky said...

By the way, let's get things straight about CAP. I am just shocked by the legend that has been accepted as unquestionably true by everyone. The various heinous statements made by various people associated with CAP were statements made by members of CAP and did not necessarily stand for what CAP officially believed. I actually still do not know what the official position of CAP was. If it was just to oppose coeducation, so what? Imagine if Smith or Wellesley decided to go coed now and its prominent alumni made a big stink about it. Would anyone say that those alumni are sexist? I think that a school has a right to have a distinct character. Which includes being all-male or all-female.

brylin said...

gwpda: Did you mean "jejune?"

GWPDA said...

Oh, heavens, yes - puerile, juvenile, pretentious - that's right! Thanks for the correction - my fault!

Henry said...

Interesting counter argument

Mike said...

Pogo said: ""Thank you sir! May I have another?" Advise and consent has become merely a Senate hazing ritual."

The Chair recognizes Senator Blutarsky of Massachusetts.

OhioAnne said...

ChrisO said...
"All three listed are adult women who chose to marry the men they married. They made the decision to stay with the one they married.

What's your point?"

OK, I'll try to be clearer. The two Democratic wives have been treated terribly by the Republicans, while the Democrats have been much nicer to Laura Bush. And the beating up of Hilary started well before she even indicated she would run for public office.


Would one of these "Democratic wives" be the same one that her husband's administration proclaimed was part of the "twofer" we got in that particular election? Or the same one that was the head of a debacle of a health care committee while unelected to anything?

Would the other be the woman who chased down a reporter in another room to tell him to "F--- Off" or the one who in speeches engaged in name calling with the best of them?

Are you implying that adult women should not be criticized regardless of what they say or do because of who they married?

Personally, I feel that political wives are fair game to the extent that they put themselves in the public eye. Laura Bush has been treated better than the others simply because she hasn't placed herself in the position to be criticized as often. If she does, she is fair game in my opinion.

I do detest the hit pieces on Hillary's hair and wardrobe that occurred, but don't see how they differ from the comments made about Alito's appearance prior to the hearings or the fashion hit pieces in WaPo that followed both the Roberts and Alito hearings. All are tacky and irrelevant.

I also think that the family members under 18 and over 80 should be exempt from public scrutiny - but not criminal liability - regardless of their actions.

As for the point about the women choosing to be with the men they married, are you implying that the same doesn't apply to Mrs. Alito

Absolutely not. Since I listed 3 women, I clearly meant all 3 women share the same responsibility for their decisions.

What I am implying (for example) is that, if you marry a serial womanizer and stay with a serial womanizer who continues to cheat on you, you should expect to look foolish when you go on national TV to blame everyone, but him for what happened.

Not saying anything is an option too often not exercised in the public realm.

Elizabeth said...

Kos wasted no time in claiming that Mrs. Alito's tears were contrived.

If only he had waited a bit, you wouldn't mind, huh?

tidalpoet--what bull. If your "good men" lost their jobs, they had more going on than spouting out an occasional "honey." I stick by regional argument. It doesn't take an Einstein to know the difference between a patronizing remark, and a friendly one. Come spend a few months in the south and you'll figure it out.

But I'll agree, my words about the tear episode are unkind to Alito's spouse. I think her behavior was at best foolish, if not calculated. But I am much more disgusted by the media and bloggers who buy into the spin. Hearings are rough, feelings get hurt. So what?