Republicans Not Confident About Alito Hearings

In one of the most brazen examples I've ever seen of the media rewriting Republican talking points as a news story, The New York Times this morning has an article that engages in some serious expectations-managing in preparation for the Alito confirmation hearings. Media outlets distributing GOP talking points is always a bad thing, but there is a silver lining here. The good news is that it's so blatantly a Republican message that it's pretty easy to see through.

"He is not going to be the well-manicured nominee," said one participant in the rehearsals, known as murder boards, at which Republican lawyers have played the roles of interrogating senators. "That is not to say it is going to be worse. It is just going to be different."

... 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.

Tags: Judges (all tags)



On John Roberts
"He came off looking to many like what they expected a Supreme Court Justice to look like"

Bowers would disagree. I wouldn't. Roberts made a specific point of focussing the bench away from legislating, and partisanship. I totally agreed with that point of view.

Alito has problems. The confirmation proceeding will reveal that he supports domestic spying, strengthening the patriot act, destruction of women's rights including the right for a woman to define her role in the creation of life - an insensitivity to the boundary of life f/k/a schiavo and how it must be defined and understood legally, all of which - his position against roe vs. wade will not save him from.

But the New York Times is reflecting on the fact that the nuclear option is off the table, and the deal is done. He's better qualified that Miers.

What could be done in a confirmation, to reveal the truth?

by turnerbroadcasting 2006-01-02 06:37AM | 0 recs
Let's make them even less confident:
Tell your Senators, no to Alito:

Save the Court Petition

And while you're at it: sign Planned Parenthood's anti-Alito petition, too:
Planned Parenthood Petition

NARAL is shooting for 500,000 signatures, please add yours:

Naral Anti-Alito Petition

And don't forget: urge Congress to support Plan B:

Plan B Petition

by judybrowni 2006-01-02 07:55AM | 0 recs
Re: On John Roberts
If the nuclear option is off the table, why is the deal done? Democrats showed in December that when the majority is determined to run roughshod over the general good, such as the renewal of the most egregious components of the Patriot Act that allow the government to spy on US citizens or oil drilling that would destroy the Alaska Wildlife Refuge, then the filibuster is a necessary and valuable means to defend Constitutional checks and balances.

Alito has not been forthcoming about his positions and has been misleading about his record; if he isn't going to level with the American people now about what if any limits he's willing to impose on government power to encroach on our privacy, then a filibuster is the only way to defend American rights and liberties.

by desmoulins 2006-01-02 08:07AM | 0 recs
Re: On John Roberts
I think the nuclear option is still possible, a person backed into a corner can be very dangerous. The whole thing about the nuclear option was that nobody inthe  GOP gave a damn about the consequences of removing one of the oldest rules in the senate. They may be able to weld themselves together for the battle because the evangelicals are ramping up for the fight. Sad to say, but true.
by turnerbroadcasting 2006-01-03 05:24AM | 0 recs
I really don't know how this will play out.  I think these hearings might become a mini referendum on Bush and his illegal claim of executive powers.  There should be enough here to sink Scalito, but we are talking about Institutional Democrats who'll have to do the sinking.  So forgive me if I hold my breath.

If the unfocused public uneasiness with Bush's wiretap arguments gain traction, then Alito could be d.o.a. on that issue alone.  If they don't, then the Dems will have to take him down one notch at a time.  Do the Dems have the balls to do that in the face of a manipulated media onslaught against them?  This is really barbarian at the gates time.

by Fitzy2 2006-01-02 06:39AM | 0 recs
Scalito on TOTN
NPR's Talk Of The Nation is just starting (1/2/06) at noon here in Denver, with the Scalito nomination (his judicial philosophy, etc) as the first topic.

I switched it off immediately -- my anger management program requires tuning out MSM even-handed he-said-she-said crap.

But for those with a stronger constitution than mine, tune in . . .

by ck 2006-01-02 09:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Scalito
With more revelations daily on the White House's manueverings to skirt the Constitution, weaken checks and balances, and subvert Congressional authority, I think the moderate Republicans may also have a dog in this fight.

The Alito hearings have become a referendum on the underpinings of democracy. Let's hear it for the pasty fellas who study Constitutional law and comment on CSPAN. True American patriots if there ever was.

But will the American public have the fortitude to remove the shades from their eyes before it's too late?

by em dash 2006-01-02 09:40AM | 0 recs
Alito is Chris Farley as Bennet Brauer
 "That's right, Bennett Brauer (Sam Alito), here with a commentary (confirmation hearing). Not quite what you're used to, perhaps. Not a tidy picture, is it?
    "Well, maybe I'm not a "G.Q. model" or a "hunk". Maybe I'm not "handsome" or even "presentable". I'm not "pleasing to the eye". Maybe I'm not "witty". I have no "charm" or "appeal". I'm not "smart" or even "the average". I don't "pee in the potty". I'm not "clean". I don't "smell good". I'm not "polished" or "prepared". I have nothing "interesting to say". I guess I don't "play the game". When I eat, I don't "use silverware" or "wipe my face". I don't "wash afterwards" or even the "next day". So I guess I just don't "fit the mold", and if that 's the case, I'll just step back and I'm sure John and Jane Doe can go back to enjoying the endless parade of commentators who don't "make people queasy". Thanks, that's all for now, Kevin.
by mike20169 2006-01-02 06:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Alito is Chris Farley as Bennet Brauer
by Adam B 2006-01-02 09:32AM | 0 recs
Nuclear option
I for one think the nuclear option needs to be on the table and in spite of the previous post, I think it still is.  Once the Dems got these hearings pushed into the new year, the field of battle became much more favorable to us.  So we'll see if they can exploit it.  Do you really see all the Rethugs walking the plank for a damaged Bush/Alito?
by Fitzy2 2006-01-02 06:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Nuclear option
If the Democrats roll over on this one, I'm gone, moving to Albania or someplace.
by global yokel 2006-01-02 07:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Nuclear option
You do realize that the "Nuclear Option" is the majority's option to eliminate the fillibuster for judicial nominees.  We certainly do NOT want that on the table.

What we want is to be able to fillibuster a judge who will lead the country further into the realm of fascism.  We want the fillibuster, not the nuclear option.

by Flynnieous 2006-01-02 08:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Nuclear option
What good a is a filibuster that we can't use?   A SCOTUS nominee is far more important than some appeals circuit nominee that we could try to filibuster later.

Worse, the Repugs will have no compunction about filibustering Democratic SCOTUS nominees when the tables are reversed (Democratic President and Senate Majority).  They have no shame will switch from "up or down vote" to the "miniority has a obligation to block unfit nominees" faster than you can say "Harriet Miers".

It's time to call the Repugs bluff on the nuclear option.  If we can't use the filibuster on judicial nominees, let the Repugs nuclear it out of existance.

by Monkey In Chief 2006-01-02 09:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Nuclear option
The filibuster, if elected, would be a dangerous move. Expect it to be on the table only after a major confirmation hearing move.

The main thing, I am still wondering is - what can be done in confirmation hearing? How can this guy be drawn out?

by turnerbroadcasting 2006-01-03 05:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Nuclear option
I know this is an old thread now, but...

Saying that we don't want the "Nuclear Option" is not saying that we should live in fear of it.  I was merely pointing out that the "Nuclear Option" is a Repuglican creation for eliminating the fillibuster.  We don't want them to do that.  

BUT... the fillibuster might as well have be nuked if we're never going to use it.  I think we should fillibuster as is required by our values and do our best to screw anyone who supports doing away with it.

by Flynnieous 2006-01-08 08:24PM | 0 recs
More MSM Scalito Nonsense
On NPR last week, Terrance Smith, the NewsHour's media correspondent, had a puff piece on how the Washington Redskins winning streak makes DC a more civil and happy place.

Fair enough -- but he also said that if they are successful in the playoffs, it could mean smooth sailing for the Scalito nomination.

I was appalled -- how could a big time journalist make light of the serious Constitutional issues that surround any extremist nominated to the Supreme Court?

Of course, the answer is obvious -- Terrance Smith is a member of the Kool Kidz Klub, where everything in Washington politics is just a game, another bit of cocktail weenie party chatter, with the default advantage always given to the GOP.

Grrrrr . . . .

by ck 2006-01-02 08:47AM | 0 recs
Re: More MSM Scalito Nonsense
I know exactly what you mean. They act like what they're talking about doesn't have an effect on peoples lives (probably they all make enough money that it doesn't affect them).

That was what made me so angry about the media's coverage of Ken Melhman trying to woo black voters. Basically the GOP talking points (and the media's puff pieces) went something like "Blacks just shouldn't vote for democrats. It's bad for them. Plus we don't like gays or abortion. And we LIKE black people now. So you should choose our brand now. Coke is better than Pepsi."

And the media ate it up because to them politics is nothing but a game.

This was also why I liked Al Sharpton's speech at the convention so much. He explained to the dipshits in the repub party and the media that the reason blacks have supported Democrats is because Democrats believe in things and advocate policies that actually have a positive impact on peoples lives "We got the right to organize under a Democrat, We got the right to vote under a Democrat, We got a minimum wage under a Democrat, Our vote is NOT FOR SALE".

That last line gets to it. This is not about picking a name brand of clothing or a car. This is about creating a better life for all Americans (or creating an every man for himself society if your a republican). The media just does not get this. And the richer the media get, the less they will understand unless we make them understand.

by adamterando 2006-01-02 09:21AM | 0 recs
good news!
hopefully, the spying story will put alito's scariness in perspective for people who might not otherwise pay attention.  there's lots of alito information to be found in this diary.

let's bork him!

by Cedwyn 2006-01-02 10:05AM | 0 recs
The "Nuclear Option" is...
... a Republican creation.  It's NOT what the Democrats are doing, which is using traditional parliamentarian rules to acheive their goals and serve their constituents.

The Republicans are the ones throwing the temper tantrum and it would be nice if the Democrats would start using this against the GOP better.

by Derelict Dog 2006-01-02 10:45AM | 0 recs
I'm thinking the Bushies
... are starting to really want people like Alito that are more likely to accept their arguments of unlimited Presidential power on the court and on the court soon in order to save their bacon from getting busted badly over their illegal and unconstitutional acts.
by Andrew C White 2006-01-02 11:39AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm thinking the Bushies
be careful when you say the word "bush republican". there are children in the room.
by turnerbroadcasting 2006-01-03 05:27AM | 0 recs


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