Monday, January 30, 2006

Keeping The Powder Dry (As Usual)

The true locking of horns takes place today in the Senate over the Alito nomination and the rumors are flying fast and furious. CNN's Ed Henry has already reported that the so-called "Gang of 14" Senators are conspiring to block the Kerry filibuster. While I expect that kind of pointless grandstanding from the Republicans, it's infuriating to watch the party I belong to cave in that way. It's sad that something as important to American life as a Supreme Court nominee doesn't even warrant an extension of debate.

Of course, the Republicans, especially President Bush, want this nomination debate over now. First, because Bush is desperately looking for something, anything to list as an accomplishment in tomorrow night's State of the Union address. Second, the Republicans, in spite of what they and certain of their supporting groups may claim, know exactly what they're getting in Alito and know that most Americans won't like it if they realize it too. He's nothing more or less than a rightwing ideologue whose judicial philosophy begets a remaking of American society. The few issues relating to civil rights and executive power that have come to light during the hearings are only the tip of the Alito iceberg.

The frustrating thing is that these 7 Democratic Senators don't seem to realize that this kind of "go along to get along" political tactic only feeds into the negative Republican narrative about what's wrong with the Democratic Party. It also reinforces the "winner takes all" theory of democracy that's so prevalent on the Right these days. The Supreme Court is not a high stakes dead pool, with the electoral victor setting the course for American culture by leaning the Court. The President isn't elected to shift American life in a certain ideological direction. He or she (well, let's be honest: "He") is elected to be the safe-guard of our nation's identity. Great Presidents past were not great merely for their leadership abilities and charisma, but their ability to chart a safe path for American life through very turbulent waters. Thus far, Bush has seen his role as President not as the caretaker of America life, but as its helmsman.

At the very least, concerning Alito again, the debate should continue. The American people need to know exactly what they're getting in Samuel Alito and if the Republicans don't think Americans will find that palatable, then perhaps Bush needs to re-think Alito's nomination. I can't think of many things more demonstrating a dying of democracy than a forced end to debate on such a controversial issue. The country will not collapse if the Alito debate continues into February, or even March. The only reason to end debate now is because every minute of disclosure tarnishes Alito's cherry shine with a little more lemon yellow.

1 comment:

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