Republicans Not Confident About Alito Hearings
by Scott Shields, Mon Jan 02, 2006 at 06:02:28 AM EST
... two of Judge Alito's supporters who participated in the murder boards, speaking about the confidential sessions on condition of anonymity for fear of White House reprisals, said they emerged convinced that his demeanor was a political asset because it gave him an Everyman appeal.
"He will have a couple hairs out of place," one participant said. "I am not sure his glasses fit his facial features. He might not wear the right color tie. He won't be tanned. He will look like he is from New Jersey, because he is. That is a very useful look, because it is a natural look. He's able to go toe-to-toe with senators, and at the same time he could be your son's Little League coach."
What is more, this participant said, Judge Alito displayed a "street smart" New Jerseyan's willingness to talk back to his questioners. Unlike Chief Justice Roberts, Judge Alito often turned inquiries back on the lawyers who were quizzing him, politely asking them to spell out exactly what they meant, two participants said.
Clearly, John Robert's smooth performance during his hearings was the key to the public support for his confirmation. He came off looking to many like what they expected a Supreme Court Justice to look like. Alito's Republican handlers are pushing this silly "Everyman" narrative in an attempt to manage public expectations. Oh, he's not being combative -- he's just a Jersey Everyman. But is that really what people want in a Supreme Court nominee? Using Robert Bork as an example, I'd say it's not. (And as a side note, let me say that the 'guys from Jersey wear funny-looking glasses and the wrong ties and have pasty skin' meme in here is bizarrely insulting and could only have been written by Beltway Insider morons who think it's like a compliment.)
Though some of the polling would indicate that many of those polled -- or maybe it's just the pollsters -- have a poor understanding of the legal issues surrounding the current domestic spying scandal, I would say that these nomination hearings will provide a perfect forum for education on the topic. Alito will be specifically called to answer for his Reagan-era defense of Nixon-era illegal and warrantless domestic spying. Though the media's done a terrible job of actually reporting the facts of the legal issues at hand, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee will be giving quite a few live interviews, affording them a good opportunity to speak directly to the public and clarify some of the misconceptions.
I have no idea what Alito's confirmation hearings will look like. But the Republicans who do seem to think it's not going to be pretty. After such a clean confirmation with Roberts, messy hearings for Alito do not bode well. "Everyman" or not, it sounds like Alito's in for a bumpy ride.