I’m pretty tired of the Samuel Alito confirmation hearing.
I hesitate even to bring this up because so many bloggers have written about it so exhaustively and the truth is I don’t really have anything substantive or unique to add. But I have listened to the whole fucking thing so far (thank you, NPR), and I feel as if I myself have been through a grueling process. Maybe not as grueling as whatever Mrs. Alito thought she was undergoing when she burst into tears and ran sobbing from the hearing room, but bad enough that I think I should get to vent a little here.
I wish I had a television in my office at work, because then I could have watched the hearings as well as listened to them, and you know I would have. It would have been better to watch, because then I would have had an image to go with Alito’s voice, and it might have given me a better, more integrated impression of this guy who wants to be on the Supreme Court for maybe the next 40 years. But I had no image, so I have to go with what I picked up from his voice.
I don’t like him.
He doesn’t sound that smart to me. I don’t care about his humble beginnings and his degrees from Princeton and Yale. I know quite a few dumbasses who went to big-name colleges. President Bush, for example. So I don’t buy the “smart enough to do this job” argument, even if it is being made by other judges (who really shouldn’t be going to Congress and promoting one of their own in testimony before a political committee – WTF – but that’s not the issue here.). Hey, I was drunk for fifteen years during the seventies and eighties, but I still remember every club I joined, and I haven’t been prepped for testimony by a flock of flaks and handlers. Sam says he can’t recall being a member of Concerned Alumni of Princeton, and he is shocked – shocked! to learn that they were (are?) a racist group who thought that there were too many blacks and hispanics being admitted to the old school, and God damn, women wanted in to the eating clubs.
It just doesn’t sound smart to me. I mean, after he’s confirmed, what if he just forgets about the Sixth Amendment? It could happen. I mean, even though everybody else in the United States knows about his membership in the Society of Bigoted Princeton Grads, he doesn’t remember, and in three months of preparation the only answer to the inevitable question he could think of, even with all the help that Rove/Cheney/Bush could give him, is “I don’t remember.” Well, I should say that on the second day of questioning, he added that he didn’t renew when his initial membership ran out, so that’s pretty creative, I guess.
Still, I see only two possible explanations for this situation. One is that he’s a racist who joins racist organizations and wants to keep minorities “in their place.” Since he now claims he doesn’t remember any of this, a corollary might be that he’s a liar, like Clarence Thomas, who claimed he had never thought about or discussed with anyone the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision. The other explanation is that he’s stupid. I’m going to guess that he’s not a racist (humble beginnings, remember), but that leaves lying numbskull, and that doesn’t make me want him on the court.
For the past three days I’ve listened to his earnest, halting responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and I come away with the impression that he’s a guy who’s working way over his head. Maybe he studies real hard and writes down all the facts in two columns on foolscap, one column labeled “For” and one “Against,” and maybe he can manage to use that technique to come to legal conclusions that take the Constitution into account. But he seems to lack the quick wit, humor, intelligence and intuition that that I want in a guy who will be judging the most important questions we as a society can come up with for the next two generations.
And this is not even to mention that he is an extreme right-wing guy, an avid follower if not much of a leader. I mean, eewww.
He’s going to be placed on the court, of course. If the Democrats had anything to stop it, they would have brought it out before the hearings. The Princeton Bigot thing, his record of siding with corporate interests and government over the little guy, his sitting on cases in which he has a clear financial conflict of interest, his long-standing opposition to abortion rights, his whining wife – none of that will stop his confirmation. The Republicans have the votes, and they have the votes to change the rules in the Senate and stop any idea of a filibuster, too. I tried to warn people before the 2000 election – the winner gets to pick a bunch of judges – but the complacent left – the actual majority – stayed home, and look what a mess.
Now I have to hope the Dems can wrestle back a congressional majority in the next three years, and make laws that can’t be interpreted by the new court to mean that the President gets to do anything he wants, because he’s the President, damnit!. That’s a feeble glimmer of light for me, but it’s all I have, and the Republicans seem lately to be trying to sabotage themselves just at the moment when they could almost – dare we say it? – rule the world.