January 11, 2006

Did the pompous politicians rattle the ragged New Jerseyan?

Having spent most of the last two days on planes and talking with people in the real world -- I gave a talk at George Mason School of Law -- I've got to put in a serious effort this morning to catch up with the details of the Alito hearings. While sitting by Gate 4 at Reagan National Airport yesterday at about 5 pm, I checked a cell phone message and blithely called back and agreed to do a radio call-in show about the hearings whenever the Senators decide to take their lunch break today. (I'll be on Gary Eichten's show "Midday," on Minnesota Public Radio.)

You said on your website you're following the hearings.

Uh, yes!

Well, I mean, I am following them at some distance, like, kind of two days behind, but I'm going to make it home by 11 and seriously engage with my TiVo, and, for speed, the transcripts.

Now, I have all morning to absorb Day 2 -- Day 1 was nothing -- and keep up with Day 3 as it unfolds. I think I'll start with the news reports, like this NYT right here.

Look at those front-page photographs. At the top are three of Alito looking perky -- with a cute kissy-face as the middle one. Under those is a bigger photograph with three Democratic Senators: Leahy, covering his eyes with his hand, and Kennedy and Biden. If Kennedy had his hands over his ears and Biden his hands over his mouth -- if only! -- we'd have a nice see-no-evil-hear-no-evil-speak-no-evil image, but Kennedy is just looking down morosely, and Biden is definitely speaking. Whatever he's saying, Leahy and Kennedy don't seem to be enjoying it.

Have the Democrats moved into resignation and futility mode yet? I get the sense they have, and if that's what I see in the morning papers today, then I will have missed all the wonderful suspense about whether the pompous politicians could rattle the ragged New Jerseyan.

Still, there are details to perceive and foibles to be mocked. And I will live up to my duties in that regard.


CCMCornell said...

From reading the title, I don't think you were quite awake yet. Or maybe, I'm not awake yet.

Palladian said...

I like this from Dahlia Lithwick at Slate:

"For one thing, Alito has thus far generated not one flash of heat. There has been no clash, no argument, no losing of his temper. He is like a very, very smart rock. And this stoniness is slowly wearing down his opposition. While Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., generates a wisp of tension with this morning's inquiry into the judge's membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton, by the time Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., has finished his questions about executive power, any appearance of fire or passion is gone from both the nominee and the senator. Alito is crushing the Democrats with unrelenting tedium and a demonstrable love for material they don't really understand."

David said...

Kennedy and Biden spoke to their talking points as if their contributors were sitting behind them with their hands up their shirts. We were treated to lengthy statements and half-hearted question/statements.

It was a sorry performance. Judge Alito kept his cool and lent dignity to the occasion.

It could have been so much more!

MadisonMan said...

Doesn't this happen with every nomination? The President nominates someone, and then, if he doesn't realize he made a mistake, we get the "treat" of tedious Senatorial posturings. If the next President is a democrat, the parties will exchange scripts. And hypocrisy will rule. All a nominee has to do is endure. That's only hard if you think you're better than everyone else in the room, a la Bork.

But I'm something of a cynic.

I did chuckle at Lindsay Graham's Abramoff statement, however.

This whole thing would be more engaging if the Senate hearing started the day after the nomination. By now, probably anyone in America could script the thing and there is absolutely no spontaneity to make it interesting.

Pogo said...

1. The Democrats are resigned to Alito's confirmation, it appears, and are now pinning their hopes on the Abramoff scandal for electoral victory.

2. Joe Biden's wolf-smile really, really creeps me out.
"I'm not alone in this aversion. It wasn't because he was the most mendacious Democrat in the U.S. Senate, but rather because the worse the thing he was saying, the wider Biden's smile got. The smile would flick on and off, like an electric sign, as if he had to keep reminding himself to do it. Joe Biden's smile and words existed in perfect inverse relationship to one another. If Biden was saying someone was a crook or some country should be bombed or if he was beating up on a witness at the table in front of his committee, you got to see damned near every tooth in Biden's mouth. Again and again. It was really horrible to watch."

3. I was watching the re-runs last night after work, and my wife mocked me for enjoying it. She was, however, correct.

Pogo said...

Sorry. The above quote starts at the words "It wasn't....

Doug said...

I was able to watch part of the beginning of Day Three this morning while waiting for my car to be fixed. Dick Durbin looks like he's just going through the motions at this point. I think the Democrats know that they won't be able to stop this one.

Ann, you were speaking at my alma mater ? Virtually in my backyard ? What was the topic ?

Ann Althouse said...

Doug: It was a faculty workshop, not an open lecture. Subject: Federalism.

Icepick said...

...[A]nd Biden is definitely speaking.

Ann, this is redundant.

reader_iam said...

Pick: Perfect!

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