The Right Coast

January 12, 2006
Teddy Boy
By Tom Smith

He's enough to make you rethink your whole attitude toward marine mammals. But in response to Professor Bainbridge's question, has Senator Kennedy ever been more loathsome than in these hearings on Judge Alito , I believe the answer is, we don't know, and we don't want to know.

It is a depressing spectacle to see a straight arrow, public spirited good guy like Judge Alito attacked by somebody who, but for an extraordinary failure of the legal system, would have done hard time for his negligent homicide of his young female companion. (For you non-lawyers in the audience, negligent homicide is what it is called when you take your young girl on the side to the beach, get drunk, drive off a bridge, and as a result, she drowns. In all civilized places, this is considered a very serious crime.) It is not quite news, but the Senator's performance manages to demean the Senate, the Judiciary, the rule of law, the Catholic Church, the Irish race, the English language, Princeton University, the worthy goal of racial and sexual equality, and the estimable hobby of the consumption of fine spirits, all in one go. It just goes to show that merely being rich, powerful, selfish, dishonest, drunk and stupid is enough to lower you to the depths of a depravity you would have thought would require more exotic vices to get you to. As Emmylou Harris I think said of the blues, but applies to evil as well, "you keep on fallin' cause there ain't no bottom." I know this already and find it a depressing fact, so I just don't watch the Senate Judiciary Committee do its thing anymore. I had more than enough with Clarence Thomas.

Like a lot of people I'm sure, I feel for Mrs. Alito. But really, a lot of us are crying, a little and inside at least, along with her. We should acknowledge the courage of Judge Alito and his family for being willing to go through this disgusting spectacle, presumably because they believe in such things as the law, and the honor of the legal profession, and the importance of good men not being kept out of public service by the low lifes already posing at the same business. All that is necessary for evil to triumph in the world, as the saying goes. It can't be easy to have your integrity attacked by such self-serving creatures, to be called a liar by people who have a disregard for truth you would find shocking in any decently raised ten year old. I suppose it is hoping for too much to wonder whether the various supporters and staffers behind Kennedy, Leahy and the rest, might reflect on what they are doing for a moment, and realize how much they are degrading themselves and the common project of government. I know it is too much to hope for.

But I certainly don't think that every liberal Senator or law professor who would vote against Alito deserves to be tarred with the stuff that gurgles up so liberally in the swamp Senator Kennedy lives in. It is one thing to vote against confirming a Judge because you disagree with his philosophy, but it is another thing to dredge up every lie and calumny your gofers can get their grubby hands on, in an attempt to stop a nominee. Politics has to have rules, or it is merely war. And even warriors feel the need to dignify their profession with codes of honor. At some point, maybe honest liberals will decide enough is enough, and do something to reign in the character assassination industry they spawned when they decided to undermine the Bork nomination. Judicial politics may not be bean bag, but it should not be a gutter fight either. The whole business of the rule of law depends in no small part on customs and traditions of civility and respect. There is more than control of the dockyard, labor union, or garbage business at stake here.

In apparent response to yesterday's hearings, Judge Alito's odds on the prediction markets went up slightly to around 95 percent. Nothing was revealed we did not already know.

I BOW down to Soxblog. By being more dispassionate, he does a better job than I on the Alito hearings. Some striking photos too. Is he correct that Mrs. Alito's tears will be what Mr and Mrs Average American take away from this sorry episode? I don't know.