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 Durbin said Judge Alito fell somewhere between Harriet Miers -- whose nomination was withdrawn last week -- and John G. Roberts Jr.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.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.
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."
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.