Last Chance on Alito
The filibuster has lost, the game is over.
As I've written elsewhere, the Democrats had the opportunity on the Alito nomination to win despite losing, to create an event that clarified for Americans just what the Republican vision of the judiciary means for Americans. Instead, they got mired down in issues that meant nothing to most Americans, like whether Alito should have recused himself in the Vanguard case or what his involvement was with a conservative group of Princeton alumni, something his conveniently faulty memory allowed him to slip easily away from.
So after the hearings they were left with nothing - Alito got passed to the full Senate, and the public remained blissfully unaware of just what Alito has in store. Just look at these poll numbers, from a Gallup poll taken earlier this week:
As you may know, Samuel Alito is the federal judge nominated to serve on the Supreme Court. Would you like to see the Senate vote in favor of Alito serving on the Supreme Court, or not?
Yes, vote in favor 54%
No, not 30
No opinion 16
Just your best guess, if Alito were confirmed to the Supreme Court, do you think he would -- or would not -- vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion?
Yes, would overturn 34%
No, would not 44
No opinion 21
Would you like to see the Supreme Court overturn its 1973 Roe versus Wade decision concerning abortion, or not?
Yes, overturn 25%
No, not overturn 66
No opinion 9
Hmm. Think there might be something going on here? Now let's keep in mind that no honest person doubts that Alito will vote to overturn Roe. But look at this question from before the hearings started, the last time it was asked:
Suppose that after his confirmation hearings you were convinced Samuel Alito would vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion. If that were the case, would you like to see the senate vote in favor of Alito serving on the Supreme Court or not?
Yes, vote in favor 34%
No, not 56
No opinion 11
Well now - looks a lot like the Democrats didn't do their job, doesn't it?
I'm not saying that abortion should have been the only thing they talked about. But it certainly should have been a topic of lengthier discussion than it was. If you could turn back the clock, wouldn't you trade in all that back-and-forth about the Concerned Alumni of Princeton?
The Democrats had one more shot at this: the floor debate. But what it would have taken was for all the Democratic senators to get together and decide that they will have no more than, let's say two or perhaps three messages. Fifteen senators would talk about abortion, fifteen would talk about executive power and that pesky thing called democracy that they support, and fifteen would talk about privacy and civil rights. No exceptions, nobody going off on their own tangents or trying to hog the spotlight (I'm looking at you, Kerry), everybody repeating the same message over and over and over until the American people get it. Republicans would get their justice, but at least they might have to pay a political price.
Of course, thinking Democrats could show that kind of coordination and message discipline might be asking a bit much