Thursday, January 12, 2006

On the Alito Hearings

I marvel at the personal restraint and decorum I see in Congress as members on both sides of the aisle argue their convictions, which at times seem light years apart. As they discuss and debate the merits of legislation our elected officials address each other kindly with a good dose of respect; and very, very rarely engage in personal attacks.

Recently, key senators have shown they afford that respect only to their colleagues within the halls of the Senate and have adopted an “anything goes” policy towards other government officials. Few Americans could have escaped the barrage of media reports before the holidays wherein Democratic Senators leveled direct charges of lying against President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, and the Secretaries of State Powell and Rice. Their claims, without documentation and proof, were that the Administration lied about WMD and the intelligence reports regarding the threat of Saddam Hussein.

Now they have turned their personal attacks on Judge Samuel Alito during the nomination hearings. The demagoguery of one particular senator stands far beyond all others. Senator Ted Kennedy’s viscous attacks in an attempt to paint Judge Alito as a bigot, unworthy of membership on the U.S. Supreme Court, is completely contrary to the position taken by the American Bar Association which identified him as highly qualified. Please keep in mind that his Democratic colleague, Senator Chuck Schumer, stated repeatedly during the Ginsburg and Breyer hearings that the ABA’s position is the “gold standard” of recommendations.

I listened in amazement when Senator Kennedy questioned Judge Alito as to whether he read (not wrote, but read) a specific article written in a newsletter 20 years earlier, and then raised the same question for four more subsequent newsletters. At that point, Senator Kennedy said Judge Alito’s answers did not “add up.” I view such a statement as a half a step short of saying the Judge lied during his hearings.

Senator Kennedy has held his legislative position since 1962 when he was sworn in with the same oath Judge Alito will take after confirmation process is complete. The oath Senator Kennedy has taken 7 times and Judge Alito has taken numerous times in his career requires them to uphold the U.S. Constitution and to defend the country against all enemies, foreign or domestic.

If Senator Kennedy feels Judge Alito’s history 20 to 30 years earlier, as a student at Princeton and an alumnus, is so critically important to suggest that the Judge is lying, then maybe the Senator should be asked why he was expelled from Harvard two times during his tenure as a student before he begins his next term in office. If the Senator feels every single detail of Judge Alito’s background is critical to his ability to carry out his obligations under the oath to defend the Constitution, then Senator Kennedy should be prepared to answer questions concerning a driving accident he had after a party in 1969 because his accounting of the incident did not “add up.” After all, why should we hold one “public servant” to a different standard than another?

Senator Kennedy must recognize that the decorum he affords his colleagues in the Senate must be extended to others in government. Disagreement may well be in order and is certainly a critical aspect of a democratic society, but his despicable practice of smearing a man (Bork, Thomas, and now Alito) with vile innuendoes is simply unwarranted, unprofessional, and contrary to ideals “we the people …” expect of our Senators.

Once before I have quoted the time honored words of Senator Margaret Chase Smith, and they are worthy of repeating once again:
“I am not proud of the way the Senate has been a publicity platform for irresponsible sensationalism … I want to see our Nation recapture the strength and unity it once had when we fought our enemies instead of ourselves.”
And to that I add, … Amen.

William G. Pierce

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