January 26, 2006

"Judge Alito's confirmation would be an ideological coup on the Supreme Court."

So says Senator John Kerry, and I get the feeling -- because of the use of the word "on" -- that he means "coup" in the sense of "coup d'├ętat" rather than simply a brilliantly executed strategem. Kerry, as reported at that first link, is lobbying Democrats to filibuster.
Sources close to Kerry, who lost to Bush in the 2004 race, told CNN that the senator was calling colleagues from Switzerland, where he was attending the World Economic Forum.....

The White House believes Alito's supporters have the 60 votes they need to block any filibuster, spokesman Steve Schmidt said, and suggested that Kerry's move was designed to buttress a possible 2008 presidential run.
It seems unlikely that there will be a filibuster, of course, as 3 Democrats have already said they'd vote for Alito and one has said she will oppose a filibuster. Only one more Democratic vote is needed to add to the 55 Republican votes to reach the 60 votes needed to close debate.

But isn't it nice to get a chance to think about Kerry again? I love the image of him phoning from Switzerland.

UPDATE: The NYT is saying Kerry is getting a "cool response." It must be quite cold, I'm thinking, given that the Times was hotly promoting the filibuster only yesterday. The hapless Kerry stepped up to that challenge and today must read:
Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts could not attend the Senate debate on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. on Thursday. He was in Davos, Switzerland, mingling with international business and political leaders at the World Economic Forum.

But late Thursday afternoon, Mr. Kerry began calling fellow Democratic senators in a quixotic, last-minute effort for a filibuster to stop the nomination.

Democrats cringed and Republicans jeered at the awkwardness of his gesture, which almost no one in the Senate expects to succeed.
Ouch. Oh, but that's our Kerry: awkward. What? You don't find it endearing anymore?

IN THE COMMENTS: Dave points out that "coup" is a French word, and the French use "sur" with "coup," making "on" a natural choice for a French-speaking person like Kerry. I respond:
I thought "on" was a weird choice of preposition, but if the French use "sur," maybe that's why he said it. To me, as an English-speaker, it sounded awkward. And with the use of the passive voice, I'm left thinking WHO is delivering a blow to the Supreme Court? What I think he meant is that once Alito is there, an "ideological coup" will take place. That is, the institution of the Court will be illicitly taken over by a group of ideologues.

Oh! The pain! I'm having a flashback to the last election campaign, when I spent a bizarre amount of time parsing Kerry statements. The meaning would seem almost to be there, but as I reached out to try to grasp it, it would slip away in one direction or another, and we'd be down here in the comments debating what they hell he actually meant.

67 comments:

Palladian said...

You're right, the image of him calling from Davos is absolutely perfect- and sums up why so many people dislike him.

I have to say that I'm pretty disgusted with this whole Alito mess- I watched (or listened to) nearly all of the "hearings" and I heard nothing that caused "concern" and nothing that suggested that he was anything but a brilliantly qualified, modest judge. I did, however, hear a lot of blather from a lot of senators that suggested that they were less than brilliantly qualified to hold any important position. The no vote for Alito seems to have nothing to do with ideology and everything to do with politics. The Democratic party needs to think long and hard about what it is and what it wants for the future before it decides to try and filibuster. I'm afraid a political Rubicon has already been crossed.

As for Kerry, are there any Democrats who could countenance him seeking the Presidency again? I think he's political kryptonite and hope for more interesting candidates from the party.

Gabe said...

Because 60 votes are needed for cloture (rather than 40 votes against to keep a filibuster going) and Senators can vote "Present", those three Democrats may still be in play as far as a filibuster goes. If the Democratic leadership supports Kerry (no small if I think), I would imagine there will be intense pressure on those three (along with the handful of Dems who expressed opposition to a filibuster - Fienstein, Slazar, and Landreiu off the top of my head) to simply vote present.

Also, I'm not a hundred percent sure, but I believe that Snowe, Collins, and Chafee (pro-choice Republicans) have yet to reveal what their votes will be.

paulfrommpls said...

Is it me, or is there another World Economic Forum in Davos every couple of weeks? Maybe whenever a certain number of a certain sort of person happen to be in Davos, it automatically becomes a World Economic Forum. Maybe John Kerry counts double. Maybe he's a quorum all by himself.

reader_iam said...

Glad to see the use of the word "Davos," fellow commenters, because it's so much more evocative. Can anyone think that "sources close to Kerry" weren't trying to bring up very specific images associated with the "Davos" cachet?

The problem is that "Davos" is a preaching-(pandering?)-to-the-choir catchphrase, which is part of the mistake Kerry made before, and why, at least so far, it's pathetic for him to him to think he'll be better received ... the next time around.

It's hard to imagine that he would be, though.

The people he most needs to impress (those in the middle and those not committed permanently to one party or another) aren't all that, well, impressed by "Davos." Chunks of them could even be described as casting a jaundiced eye at that.

From wherever he's calling, Kerry's just basically phoning it in--nary a new thought to be communicated.

Justin said...

Every time I get the inkling to come over to this blog under the misguided impression that Ann Althouse can show the serious thought that one would expect of a 1L (much less a law professor),

"But isn't it nice to get a chance to think about Kerry again? I love the image of him phoning from Switzerland."

She sets me straight.

Thanks, Ann. You need to be there, to remind us mittenfolk why its Great to Be a Michigan Wolverine.

Palladian said...

Why do people spend the time to write comments about how much they hate this or that blog? I guess Michigan Wolverines have a lot of spare time on their hands. Not surprising.

But hey, congrats on reviving "You, a law professor!" - classic!

Ann Althouse said...

Palladian: "I guess Michigan Wolverines have a lot of spare time on their hands." And it takes so much longer to do anything with your hands when you're wearing mittens.

Sometimes I wish I'd called my blog "You, a law professor!"

Ann Althouse said...

I think the Kerry-phoning-in image reopens some recently closed wounds. It's got to hurt. And this is suppose to look forward to the 2008 campaign. Ouch! He was a terrible candidate last time, and now he's positioning himself for a second shot.

knoxgirl said...

I can't believe that poor thing is throwing himself into another fruitless effort to make himself relevant. Wait... yes, I can. I just don't get how he refuses to acccept that no one wanted him even when he WAS relevant.

Goesh said...

-another 2cd place contender snivels and dribbles on himself, a rich, politically emasculated white liberal male calling from Switzerland, what an image of power and force to be reckoned with! How American trembles at what he portends!

Pogo said...

Like Gore, Kerry is becoming so much fun to watch, as he thrashes about in desperation over his relentless decline.

He'd paid his dues, he went to the right schools; he felt it was his turn to be president. What else was he supposed to do?

Now he's reduced to ever more transparent attempts to get attention. But in Kerry's leaden style, lacking wit or nuance, he manages to remind people why he was rejected.

1. Phoning in the complaint.
2. From Europe.
3. From Switzerland, no less.
4. Skiing at a posh resort.
5. Making Important Decisions with the Elite Few Rulers of the World
6. Unconcerned with rallying fellow Democrat Senators.

Is it possible to create a worse scenario, more tin-eared, more selfish, more irrelevant? He's become Elmer Fudd, delusional Senator, repeating to himself: My name is John Kerry Fudd, pwesident. I own a mansion and a yacht."

G. Bob said...

On a side note, I find the trend of the never-ending presidental campaign to be somewhat disturbing. All my life, losing presidental candidates have bowed out of the public glare for the sake of unity. Ford, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Bush, Dole. All of them, despite their disagreements with the adminstration at the time put aside politics and adopted the policy of "if you don't have something nice to say don't say anything at all." (Carter eventually changed course, but that's another story)

Now a new trend has developed. Those who lose an election now stay on the campaign trail, doing everything they can to bring down the person who the country elected. Little wonder that poitics has become so partisan and petty. I can't say for sure if this is a symptom or a cause, but I can say it doesn't bode well for the future of politics in this country.

rastajenk said...

But he posts on Kos, so he must be one of the people. I guess.

RogerA said...

As Palladian noted re trolls--what is it? As I recall, Glen had a post from a psychologist about flaming--apparently that post should be read. I participate on my own group blog, and we have one resident troll--the good Professor clearly has at least two trolls and one (as near as I can tell, stalker)--I really do think this whole troll thing requires some serious academic research as we all move into the cyber age.

Stephen said...

Just when we're ready to archive those files, John Kerry, like a certain bearded one speaking from a cave in Pakistan, speaks, and President Bush's popularity spikes upward. It's their nature, I guess. (Oops, so unfair to mention an American politician in the same breath with a mass-murdering fiend; conservatives can be so hateful.)

CCMCornell said...

I tried imagining what picture of Kerry they'd choose to show on a TV show or teleconference that aired the phone call from Davos. Something appropriately dignified, I suppose.

-Peder said...

Wasn't it just a few weeks ago that we were told that Dems had come to the conclusion that winning elections would give them more of a say in Supreme Court Nominees? Why is this ninny running around comparing a legitimate process with a 'coup'. Oppose him if you feel he shouldn't be there, fine. But enough with the constant comparison to anti-democratic practices.

Art said...

What does it say about our country when people think ill of a US Senator for attending a conference on world economics?
We have a global economy. Our nations debt is held overseas. Sounds pretty important to me.

Switzerland is a central point in the world's banking system so it makes sense to have an economics conference there.

Would we be happier with him if hung around Boston and went to Bruins games?

Of course not. People would make fun of him just because that's what passes for political discourse in this country.

Wade_Garrett said...

Stephen -

Classy.

Tom Spaulding said...

A Wolverine, eh? Does your mascot make sure it's every move passes a Forest Test? Wisconsin has enough to be embarassed about, with unchecked voter fraud running rampant in Milwaukee, don't make us ashamed of our neighbors too. See you at Camp Randall!

tcd said...

Art,
We don't think ill of John Kerry b/c of his Davos attendance. We think ill of John Kerry b/c he is a buffoon who married rich ad is living off the money that another man's family made. We think ill of him because he has the personality of a Q-tip.

Pogo said...

Art said, "What does it say about our country when people think ill of a US Senator for attending a conference on world economics?"

It says, Kerry is attending to ski in Davos, eat great food, hobnkob with the powerful, rich, and famous, and be catered to. I don't believe he's going because he's just doin' his job, representing the fine folks of Massachusetts. It's the closest thing we've got to the elitist EU office in Belgium, where unelected officials decide What Is Best For Us. It's where he goes to pretend he's relevant.

If otherwise, name me one piece of legislation he's created based on the awesome economics he learned in past summits.

Face it, art. He's a putz. He's John Kewwy Fudd, pwesident. He owns a mansion and a yacht.

Verification word ~blwndvr: What Kerry's hair looked like during the phone call from Davos, because he just finished skiing; see political also-ran

Charlie Eklund said...

Art: I don't think ill of a US Senator's attendance at the World Economic Sunnmit anymore than I would think ill of the same person campaigning for President without a break from 2003 to this very day. Despite having failed in the election of 15 months ago, even.

If I were one of this Senator's constituents, though, I might be a little displeased by the fact that this Senator prefers tending to his own personal business, for years, rather than the business he was elected to tend to.

Who wouldn't?

Dusty said...

Pogo, I wish you hadn't besmirched Elmer like that. It seemed to me very cruel.

art: You're being serious, aren't you. A world economic forum is pretty important and that's precisely why we observe Kerry to be cluttering up the landsacpe by attending. It's like having a rock at the party -- cute at first, but quickly distracting and nothing more than dead weight.

My only consolation will be if Kerry spends as much time at the forum as he does in the Senate so, here's hoping the hardpack is irresistable.

Duffy Nichols said...

Can anybody offer an explanation for why so many that end up in public office are horses' asses?

Louise said...

It is clear that calling for a filibuster will (and to some extent already has) backfire on Kerry et al. They clearly don't have the votes or the public support for a filibuster. Let's just get this over with and get Alito confirmed!

EddieP said...

You people are so out of order when discussing John Kewwy. None of you remembered, nor mentioned, that he served in Vietnam. He has the movies to pwove it!

Dave Schuler said...

He means it literally, Ann. Coup is French for “a blow”. Coup sur—a blow on or against”. Consequently, “a coup on” would be “a blow against…”.

As some of your commenters have noticed there is an irony in an American politician making such a suggestion from Switzerland in Franglaise.

jeff said...

Kerry is a living example of the Peter Principle - he reached his level of incompetence as a Senator, it's just that nobody noticed him until he was a presidential candidate.

Nominating him in 2004 should go down as one of the Democratic party's larger mistakes this generation.

bearbee said...

John Kewwy Fudd, pwesident

sonicfrog said...

I'm currious. Who paid for Kerry's trip to Davos. In the wake of the Abrahmoff scandal I'ld kinda like to know (if I didn't spell his name right, I don't care).

Ann Althouse said...

Art said..."What does it say about our country when people think ill of a US Senator for attending a conference on world economics?"

I don't mind if he attends such a conference. I just think it's ridiculous to try to lead fellow Democrats into a futile filibuster without bothering to be there in person.

Dave: Good point about Kerry's use of a French word, given his French-speaking ability. I thought "on" was a weird choice of preposition, but if the French use "sur," maybe that's why he said it. To me, as an English-speaker, it sounded awkward. And with the use of the passive voice, I'm left thinking WHO is delivering a blow to the Supreme Court? What I think he meant is that once Alito is there, an "ideological coup" will take place. That is, the institution of the Court will be illicitly taken over by a group of ideologues.

Oh! The pain! I'm having a flashback to the last election campaign, when I spent a bizarre amount of time parsing Kerry statements. The meaning would seem almost to be there, but as I reached out to try to grasp it, it would slip away in one direction or another, and we'd be down here in the comments debating what they hell he actually meant.

Armando said...

Professor Althouse:

Like most newspapers, the New York Times keeps its editorial page and news pages separate.

Thus, the editorial urging filibuster was edited by Gail Collins, the Editorial Page Editor, while the "cool" story by David Kirkpatrick, a fine reporter by the way, was ultimately the responsibility of Bill Keller who, properly, has no say on the editorial positions of the newspaper.

Respectfully,

Armando

Smilin' Jack said...

I'm having a flashback to the last election campaign, when I spent a bizarre amount of time parsing Kerry statements.

Why bother? "Coup on" is neither French nor English...it's just gibberish. It's typical Kerry...using words he doesn't really understand to try to sound smart, and as a result just sounding pretentious as well as stupid.

And I'm so pleased to see my tax dollars used to send him to an "economics" conference in Switzerland. Didn't he flunk basic econ at Yale? If he really wants to learn something about economics he should try enrolling in a Boston community college...if he can find one with low enough standards to admit him.

vnjagvet said...

Anne:

Your account of parsing Kerry's prose is right on.

I thought it was just that he was trying to sound "deep and meaningful" when he did not quite grasp the depth and meaning of the issue he was commenting on.

Henry said...

Or maybe he said "chimp"

You know it was windy...his bad ear was to the reporters...he couldn't hear the question properly...

Grampy said...

I must applaud you all, very cool headed (even funny) responses here, unlike the majority of left wing blogs,where they would not be able to respond at all were it not for the use of obsenity's and mean personal putdowns (emphasis on mean). Sure glad I am not a member of the "compassionite left".

Grampy said...

Juast a reply to say that I am very impressed with the comments made here. Although some have made fun of Kewwy, it has been done in a humourous manner unlike many of the left leaning blogs that I have visited where the responses were riddled with obsenities and very mean personal attacks (Mr. Alitos wife comes to mind). Needless to say, I am glad I am not one of the "compassionite" left.

trza said...

"The NYT is saying Kerry is getting a "cool response." It must be quite cold, I'm thinking, given that the Times was hotly promoting the filibuster only yesterday."

Do you understand the difference between an editorial and a news story? I doesn't seem like it.

brylin said...

One of the reasons I love this blog is because of the viewpoint diversity.

But I was hoping that an Armando appearance would contain more than a little lecturing about how the Times runs its operations.

Armando, what say you on the merits of the issue?

Will all heck break loose over the next Court vacancy? Or can we expect more of the same?

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

Yes, Armando, I did realize that when I wrote the post. I chose my words carefully to reflect that. Thanks for the patronizing comment though!

brylin said...

Stevens will be 86 in April, Ginsburg turns 73 in March, Breyer will be 68 in August, and Souter will be 67 in September. Also, Kennedy will be 70 in July.

And Bush has 3 more years.

DaveG said...

No proof, of course, but I suspect Armando's comment demonstrates either an inordinate level of naivete, or is simply disingenuous. I suspect the "wall" between the news and editorial desks is far more porous that he states.

Goatwhacker said...

What does it say about our country when people think ill of a US Senator for attending a conference on world economics?

Good point. Maybe he can be the first Senator to understand economics.

There was an interesting editorial on Davos in today's WSJ from John Bogle, founder of Vanguard. I'm quoting from memory here but I think there was a three hour lecture on getting in touch with your feelings or some such. Bogle didn't sound like he thought much economic progress was going to be made. He wasn't invited though so maybe it was sour grapes.

Elizabeth said...

And Bush has 3 more years.

And he is, comme dit Duff, such a horse's ass! It's going to be a long three years.

Pat Patterson said...

Is Sen. Kerry making pigeon jokes?

Simon Kenton said...

"an ideological coup on the Supreme Court."

There's another sense of this - to count coup on an enemy, a practice of the horse indians of the plains, who accounted it an act of great valor to touch an enemy warrior with a coup (striking) stick or with the bare hand, and then get away without killing or having been killed. This doesn't make much sense in this context (at least to me) but it accounts for that otherwise stray "on" after the word "coup." So, maybe he thinks Bush is whupping the Supreme Court up side the head?

Uncle Buck said...

Knoxgirl wrote: "I just don't get how he refuses to acccept that no one wanted him even when he WAS relevant."

Interesting that just under 1/2 of the voting population in this country is the equivalent of "no one."

No, Kerry wasn't a good candidate, and I too am baffled about his cluelessness in calling (literally) for a filibuster.

But aren't some of the same criticisms being made here equally applicable to the current president? Rich, out-of touch, mangling his syntax, living off the money another man made, hobknobbing with the powerful and rich, etc.

Obviously, neither candidate was good...but why spend so much energy beating up the *loser*?

brylin said...

Hey Elizabeth, how are you doing?

astrolabe said...

You ... dwatted wabbits!!

Pogo said...

Re: "But aren't some of the same criticisms being made here equally applicable to the current president? Rich, out-of touch, mangling his syntax..., etc."

The difference, of course, is that Bush can't ski. So there.

Re: "...why spend so much energy beating up the *loser*?"

If you can't pick on a loser who won't go quietly into that good night, what are blogs for?

Doug Sundseth said...

The bit that struck me was this one: "Sources close to Kerry, who lost to Bush in the 2004 race..."

Kerry ... Kerry ... the name sounds familiar. Oh, right, the failed presidential candidate. What year was that? Oh, thanks.

brylin said...

A fourth Democrat, ND Senator Kent Conrad, announced his support for Alito.

Reid announced today there isn't enough support for a filibuster.

Also, for the record, Feingold is in support of a filibuster.

Armando said...

Professor Althouse:

My mistake then. That was not apparent to me.

For the commenter who asked my view on developments, you'll find it at the usual place.

Best regards,

Armando

jeff said...

It might also be remembered that Davos is that storied place where Eason Jordan of CNN told a room full of journalists (and a few bloggers, I believe) that US troops were deliberately targeting journalists in Iraq.

I suspect it's more of a schmoozefest and less of an important conference.

brylin said...

Armando, I saw your comment at the usual place. I think you are being a little harsh on Senator Byrd given the reality of the situation.

But then you are feeding red meat to your readers, right? There isn't much diversity of viewpoint at the usual place.

And you really didn't address the next vacancy and whether it will be more of the same quality of opposition.

Simon said...

Brylin:
"[Kos] really didn't address the next vacancy and whether it will be more of the same quality of opposition."

They have another speed besides "slow"? ;)

whit said...

Re: Davos.
Angelina Jolie is the celebrity eye candy at Davos this year. Last year, it was Sharon Stone.

BTW - I thought someone in here called me.

Elizabeth said...

Brylin,

I'm doing okay, thanks. New Orleans is a weird place to be right now; weirder than usual, I mean. Thanks for asking.

knoxgirl said...

whit, thanks for reminding us all why we aren't impressed by Kerry going to Davos... or by Davos itself, for that matter. two words: Angelina Jolie.

Oh, google tells me Lionel Richie is going to be there too! And Richard Gere!

knoxgirl said...

Uncle Buck, see:

www.johnkerryisadouchebagbutimvotingforhimanyway.com

and you'll understand what I mean.

knoxgirl said...

uh, please don't take that to mean I voted for him.

Rooted in Him said...

If you want to know more about Davos, Jay Nordlinger of NRO goes every year and posts a "Impromptus" each day. The first can be found at http://www.nationalreview.com/impromptus/impromptus200601250837.asp

He has 2 others.

Elizabeth said...

Nordlinger goes for the skiing, great food, hobnobbing and the hot girls. The column makes it a tax writeoff.

John in Nashville said...

Excuse me, but wasn't one of the principal 2004 Rethuglican memes on John Kerry that he was a shameless flip-flopper who would say anything to achieve high office?

Compare Judge Alito's 1985 comments about whether Roe v. Wade was correctly decided to his 2005 claim to have an "open mind" on the question.

Among those who are as fond of George W. Bush as Monica Lewinsky ever thought of being fond of Bill Clinton, (including them!, the law professors,) is flip-flopping now a good thing? Or is it merely IOKIYAR?

OhioAnne said...

"Rethuglican" ???
"Kewwy"???

The nice thing about people using phrases like this is that is saves me the time of trying to take anything else they say seriously.

G. Bob said...
On a side note, I find the trend of the never-ending presidental campaign to be somewhat disturbing. All my life, losing presidental candidates have bowed out of the public glare for the sake of unity. Ford, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Bush, Dole. All of them, despite their disagreements with the adminstration at the time put aside politics and adopted the policy of "if you don't have something nice to say don't say anything at all." (Carter eventually changed course, but that's another story)


Even Nixon could be added to that list. Given the nature of the 1960 election, he had a case to make a stink, but chose not even to challenge it.

When even Nixon has you beat as a statesman ....