Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Confirmation Report...

Good piece from Dahlia Lithwick on the confirmation hearings from yesterday. Here's the link, and a few excerpts:

Sam Alito has chosen to simply bore his way through, and as a consequence, two days into the hearings, the Democrats on the judiciary committee have hardly laid a glove on him. I count only three occasions today on which he refuses to answer a question; that's not going to be his way. His way is to drill down and answer in lengthy doctrinal detail; to justify his past decisions with technical legal analysis; to expound upon three-part tests and legal factors to be balanced. He never tells you the answer to the question, but he's always expansive on how he might get there.

Alito is crushing the Democrats with unrelenting tedium and a demonstrable love for material they don't really understand.

Anyone can manage to be boring on boring subjects; Alito has seemingly perfected the art of being boring on controversial ones. Executive power in wartime? Boring. His deeply felt passion for Robert Bork? Boring. His incendiary job application from 1985? So boring that he's actually forgotten it. His resistance to the constitutional principle of one man, one vote? It was based on some stuff his dad told him. He doesn't fight to defend these ideas, he just slumps even lower in his chair and looks more earnest.

The almost laughable Republican position throughout the hearings is that Alito can't possibly be anti-women/minority/criminal defendant/little guy because here are 3/4/7/whatever single-digit-number-of cases among almost 5,000 in which he sided with them. It's a twist on the "Some of my best friends are ... " line. And here I thought that line stopped working in the '60s. Right about the time when colleges let in women and started going downhill.

Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., an alleged ally, has begun to offer rambling speeches peppered with unanswerable queries on the issue of enemy combatants and executive authority in wartime. I would love to ask the nominee if eight consecutive hours of threats, coercion, good-cop/bad-cop, bad cafeteria food, and more threats constitutes torture under domestic or international law. But I suspect he could make even that answer boring.

Good stuff.

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