Tuesday, January 31, 2006

No doubt the final irony of the Alito confirmation process has already occurred to you, but . . .


Considering the relative ease with which, in the end, the alarming Alito is slithering onto the Supreme Court, nobody to the right of, say, Chuck Grassley may want to ponder the carry-over effect.

One possibility might be a massive mobilization of the American center and left around the theme "Never again!" Never again we will stand idly by while grotesquely underinformed voters turn the fate of the republic over to the tool of a power elite on the ground that the creepiest smile this side of a slasher movie shows what a "nice guy" he is. Never again will we allow understandably under-enthused voters to boycott the polls en masse in the erroneous belief that "there isn't a dime's worth of difference" between candidates who may not be singularly appealing but nevertheless are very different in at least some important ways.

That's one theory. It's a pretty hilarious one, don't you think? (Thank you, thank you, ladies and germs! A funny thing happened to me on the way to the blog . . . )

Turning now to reality, what I expect will happen is that the far right, giddy with success, is going to use this episode as Bork II—a rallying point for pushing farther to the right the ideological limit of the centrist judges appointable by future Democratic presidents. As I say, never mind that Alito was actually confirmed. And never mind (just as no one on the far right has ever minded it) that the process ever since known as "Borking" consisted of nothing more dastardly than quoting back to him the words of a man so extreme that even sleepy Middle America took fright when it got a good glimpse.

The facts, after all, simply don't come into this. (I was delighted the other day when Paul Krugman kicked off his column by quoting the glorious Daily Show exchange in which correspondent Rob Corddry explained to Jon Stewart that it was no longer possible to report the facts because the facts themselves are "biased" against Bush.) I believe that the far right now believes it has the power to (a) coerce friendly administations to appoint Supreme Court justices (and lower court judges) who pass their litmus tests, while (b) preventing unfriendly administrations from appointing justices (and judges) who hold to any contrary views.

Remember the common wisdom that you couldn't confirm a Supreme Court nominee who made clear that he would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade? Of course, Judge Sam didn't come right out and say that, but he could have lost an eyeball, he was wink-wink-winking so hard at his loony-right allies. If he had a shred of honesty, he could have gotten around the question by saying, "Oh, but compared with the other stuff I'm going to do, overturning Roe will be the least of the nightmare I cause non-rightist loons." But as his whimsical approach to the relationship between conflicts of interest and judicial recusal suggests, shreds of honesty may be too much to hope from (ugh!) "Justice" Sam.


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