Friday, January 27, 2006

Filibustering Alito

There are others who have written far more passionately and in-depth about whether or not the Senate Democrats should mount a filibuster against the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

After looking over the judge’s record, his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and reading the arguments both pro and con, I come to the conclusion that while the filibuster itself will probably not stand and Judge Alito will probably be confirmed, what the hell have the Democrats got left to lose by mounting an opposition to his appointment?

The Republicans will come back with some bullshit charge that it would be “mean” of the Democrats to oppose Alito, as if civility and comity was something the Republicans have any claim to. (“Go fuck yourself.” – Vice President Cheney on the floor of the Senate plus any other number of incidents of arrogance and bullying you can name, including threatening the “nuclear option” against a filibuster.) Then they will claim that Judge Alito has an “open mind” on such things as abortion, affirmative action, and executive powers. We all know that’s crap; the man left a paper trail thirty years long and in every case he has come down on the far-right point of view of every issue to the point that other truly conservative judges sitting on his own circuit have overruled his opinions. What I can’t understand is why the Republicans act as if they’re hiding something from the public by dressing up Judge Alito as if he was some kind of middle-of-the-road pragmatist in the style of Sandra Day O’Connor when they know that A) he isn’t, and B) the far-right nutsery that has the GOP by the balls would never let him near the court if he really was. Why don’t they proclaim him for what he really is — a right-wing idealogue — and be proud of it? Maybe it’s because they know that most Americans don’t ascribe to his beliefs and the only way to get him on the Court is to tone him down until he’s home and dry.

The Democrats have nothing to lose by mounting a filibuster because they have nothing left to lose anyway. They have heretofore shown a deference and a craven lack of spine to a president and a party that has grown increasingly unpopular among the electorate — currently polling at 41% approval in a FOX news poll (and if a Republican president can’t get over 50% at FOX, he has a problem) — and paradoxically increasingly arrogant and childish in their rhetoric. If Karl Rove can go out to his Kool-Aid Kidz and proclaim that the Republicans will win in ’06 because they have kept this country safe and secure and the Democrats cannot mount a response to that steaming pile, then they have no right to win back the House and the Senate.

So let the Alito filibuster be the first step on the road back. Even if there is no chance it will succeed, it will be a sign that at long last we on the progressive side are willing to stand up for our beliefs. Even if the odds are against us (and I mean “odd” in every sense of the word), sometimes it’s more important to take the stand than actually win.