Roger L. Simon

The stupidity of partyline politics

… One of my favorite subjects, I know (I’m a little “hobbyhorsical” about it, as Sterne would say)… but I was reminded of my beloved hobbyhorse by this article on the NPR site. Ron Elving writes:

Once again, the power of television to create reality has overwhelmed a historical event. The ascent of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court became inevitable this week because his performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on live TV sold the nation on his judicial image. Not coincidentally, the same hearings left his opponents looking disorganized and peevish.

Well, right … up to a point. Peevish, yes (although I might have used a stronger word), but “disorganized,” no. Over-organized would be more like it with reams of obscure and essentially useless information assembled by their staffs. Then each opposition Senator had to get all his/her “research” out to show his/her constituents, and the world at large, that he/she would be the one to wield the straw to break the candidate-camel’s back. What resulted was an inability to hear or even see the man sitting in front of them. In that sense, this was a reality show and the Democrats on the committe are pretty close to being kicked off and being replaced for the new season. They could save themselves by being grown-ups and abjuring party politics, by surprising us. Elving, like most others, doesn’t think that will happen:

Even before the weeping [by Mrs. Alito] that sealed the deal, Judge Alito’s own lawyerly sangfroid had largely put an end to the suspense. The committee will vote 10-8 along party lines to recommend Alito’s confirmation, just as it likely would have if the vote had been taken before the hearings began.

That’s the CW, all right, but suppose the Democrats didn’t do that? Suppose half (or more) of them decided that Alito was a qualified candidate, as he clearly is, said so and voted for him. The big winners in this with the American public would be those Democrats who showed they had the maturity to do this. Of course, their bases might go berserk, but I sense a vast percentage of the people of this country are becoming increasingly fed up with the tiresome bases of both our political parties. In fact, we are being held hostage by them. The list of issues that remain unresolved in our society because of the obdurate, knee-jerk opinions of our parties’s bases would scroll down this page and probably out your computer and down the street. Enough already. As the words liberal and conservative become increasingly meaningless in our culture, the people who sat in judgment of Alito were conservative in the deepest emotional sense, rigid almost like members of the Inquisition with the most predictable line of questioning and the most predictable attitudes. We deserve more. We deserve people who think.