Take that, it's Alito!
After the near-catastrophic appointment of White House counsel, and personal Bush family lawyer, Harriet Miers, today the President of the United States nominates
Samuel A. Alito, Jr.
As his true, genuine, and decisive nominee for the SCOTUS.
Like most people who are not Constitutional experts, I was willing to give Harriet Miers her chance to wow me at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.
I was not pro-Miers, nor anti-Miers.
This despite being in the minority on Blogosphere at not having an instant aversion or peace-of-mind suddenly overwhelm me at the very thought of her appointment.
But, again like most people with an unvested interest in the matter, I was also quite concerned at the judicial gravitas Miss Miers so obviously lacked.
Her past associations, such as being almost a lifelong Democrat, which could be excused because of an historic Dixiecrat link...
Her wavering stance on being pro-abortion for most of her life, until her born-again Christianity changed her heart...
Her aftertaste of cronyism this appointment left on the palate...
Her unremarkable intellect (her most incisive commentaries in margins of notes seemed to be "Cool!", wincingly bad, compared to the dry wit and monumental grasp of law exhibited in the same, by now Chief Justice Roberts)...
All these reasons made me reconsider my neutrality.
But the most important shift in my mind, was the obvious disgust exhibited by Conservatives at this nomination.
It almost rent asunder Blog relationships, the political commentating world, and core-supportership of these centre-rightists for three weeks.
It was visceral.
Primarily, though it showed that Conservatives were not goose-stepping behind just everything President Bush did.
What one Party, with jealous eyes, calls slavish devotion, the other side can lay claim to loyalty, and commonality of purpose.
They wish they had that unity of philosophy rather than just hatred of a person to unite them.
But the Miers nomination tore into that self-perception most horribly.
It was, as I said at that time, an appointment made out of weakness:
That Conservatives would have these qualms is normal.
But what I perceived is that average Americans, many of whom are not particularly political, and who voted for President Bush in 2004 merely because they judged him to have character and leadership, unpopular though his decisions may be, saw him for the first time flinch, and pander to the other side.
It doesn't matter what side. The mere fact that he did so was reason enough to reconsider their judgement of him.
That's when I started to sour on Miers.
If truth be told, I do not much care for polls, but I am a huge believer in feeling the pulse of average Americans.
I'm not an average American. I am too foreign, too carefully educated, yes, alas too well-heeled.
So I paid attention to this recoil-effect Miers had on the "just folks" and realised the appointment was not going to fly where it counted most.
Again, I am not interested in people loving Judge Alito, or hating him.
What I'll be paying attention to, in my daily rounds, always keeping my ears open, is whether they feel confident the President chose someone out of conviction.
That's what they elected him to do, after all.
Today, he repaid their confidence in him.
He paid them back. At last.
(This story will be updated throughout the day. I will be listening to the Diane Rehm Show on NPR shortly. I predict the first question she will ask is about Alito being called "Scalito" because of his alleged judicial resemblence to Antonin Scalia. We'll see)
UPDATE: Diane Rehm is out until Wednesday, but her replacement started the broadcast by saying last week, in which I was completely unable to watch cable news due to Hurricane Wilma, was the worst week in President Bush's two administrations. With respect, nothing can come close to the week of 9/11.
As I linked to above, Sam Alito has already been Wiki'ed. But here's a Trivial Pursuit tidbit for you.
Alito was born on April Fool's Day. And appointed to the SCOTUS on Halloween Day.
Now all we need, for non-formal holiday symmetry, is his confirmation on Groundhog Day.
Seeing as how just everyone realises this appointment will take a very long time to confirm, because the opposing Party in the Senate will no doubt filibuster it, and we have three official holidays in between (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's), it'll certainly take as long as 2 February before he's in.
UPDATE: Some curious factoids for you.
Name: Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr.
Born: April 1, 1950 in Trenton, New Jersey
Family: Almost all are attorneys. His mother, Rose, 91, lives in Hamilton, NJ, still and she fielded questions on her son beamingly today. His late father, Samuel Sr., was the director of the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services. His sister Rosemary, with whom he tag-teamed in the High School Debate team, is a top employment lawyer in their home state. He's married to Martha-Ann Bomgartner, and they have two children: Philip, who is in college, and was very visible near his dad today at the Rosa Parks memorial, and Laura, who is still in High School.
Education: Princeton University, B.A. 1972 and Yale Law School, J.D., 1975
Hobbies: Gourmet cook. Tennis. Music. And is a Philadelphia Phillies nut (I suppose he was born too late to be a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, or a New York Giants one, since obviously he didn't go with the Yankees. I like him already).
BACKGROUND UPDATE: Renato, my able co-blogger last week, was able to unearth some background info on Judge Alito's Italian background (see the comments). Being himself of Italian origin, albeit an uninvolved Canadian one, he was curious to investigate where the Judge's Italian provenance was from. Alito's still spry-mother, Rose, was born Fradusco, which Renato researched as coming from the Basilicata region. But the Ellis Island records, where a New Jersey lad may credibly trace his ancestry, was cagey in coughing up names. Alito was present in 7 or 8 entries, including from Argentina, Finland, and Turkey (!), as well as featuring badly-spelt Italian cities. But then we found out that Samuel A. Alito, Sr. was HIMSELF from Italy. So Judge Alito is able to realise the über-classic American Dream -- from immigrant to Supreme Court nominee, and possibly, Justice in one generation. Fantastic!
I just saw his, may I say, flattering profile on CNN, who were unusually positive in tone, which is rare about anything related to the Republicans.
Though he keeps his offices in New Jersey, being a thoroughly New Jersey kind of guy, apparently, he works in Philadelphia. This obviously explains his allegiance to the Phillies, but if he grew up to be such a baseball nutter as a kid, I wonder who was his childhood team of choice?
Here's the now famous Princeton Yearbook entry, which Senator Bill Frist quoted today, during Alito's public meet-and-greet.
What nuggets of info can the casual reader glean from this?
Like many men of substance, he was rather geeky as a young man (Debate Club President). He's blossomed, and lost the big black specs for a pair of sleek Armani ones, for one.
Note also, in the middle of the counter-culture revolution going on around him, he kept his high-and-tight haircut, cutting a very sober dash for the times. Even the socially-conservative, Michael Medved, his contemporary at Yale, grew a beard and let his hair grow out back then.
The photo of him at the very top shows him being much porkier than he is now, too.
Today's snaps, which are making the rounds everywhere, and are already being manipulated (sigh), show him much leaner, and even younger, than the first one I posted above. He must've cut down on the gourmet cookery.
Continuing with the Yearbook info, he speaks fluent Italian, since his thesis is called La Corte Costituzionale Italiana, which he researched in the cafes of Rome and Bologna (obviously a dig at his student travelling ways back in 1971).
Likewise, his fellow Princetonians recognised that however much of an inside joke proclaiming he might one day warm a Supreme Court bench, it's like Jack Kennedy rigging his "Most Likely To Succeed" nomination at Choate.
Wish-fulfillments, maybe, but they sure panned out, didn't they?
And finally, the Yearbook lists his parents' full address. Much more innocent times.
Speaking of which, his confirmation in the year 2005/6 won't be a cakewalk, like in the 1980's and 1990's, as with Justices Scalia and Ginsburg.
They received unanimous or near-unanimous confirmations.
This man, of whom his Yale Law School classmates called Silent Sam, and is renowed apparently for being polite, smart, and kind, will be picked over like carrion by the opposing side of the political divide.
In the language of baseball, which continues to follow these nominations, as it did with Roberts, I think they will find Sam Alito is a "tough out".
FINAL UPDATE: Paula Zahn used my April Fool's/Halloween quote on her show! Dagnabbit. Where's my Hat Tip?
ABSOLUTE FINAL UPDATE: John McCain is on Hannity & Colmes as I type, and he says that the famed Gang of Fourteen will be meeting in his Senate office on Thursday. The outcome of that meeting may determine if the Senate will have a lengthy fight over the nomination. McCain's feeling is that actually, however much certain people want it, he thinks this monimation may not cause such a big ruckus. And you know what? I have a funny feeling he's right about this. I see opposition, sure, but not the knock-down, drag-out fight some people are spoiling for.