Thursday, January 12, 2006

"What About Those Four Years You Spent at Clown College?"

Between the important issues of executive power and abortion rights, the Senate Judiciary Committee has been ducking into Sam Alito's connections to the Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP). As multiple accounts have made clear, CAP was first and foremost an organization dedicated to keeping down the numbers of women and minorities on the Princeton campus. The claim that it was focused on anything else is ludicrous. That attitude was very much in keeping with the conservative movement of the 1970s, which is why Alito highlighted his membership on a 1985 application in the Reagan administration -- to prove that he had that GOP-style Wall Street Cred.

But these days, Alito remembers his CAP connections about as well as Jack Abramoff's old pals remember him. His excuse for CAP -- he doesn't remember joining it, but he joined it because they wanted to restore the ROTC to campus -- is a little bizarre. He graduated in 1972, at which time the ROTC had already been restored. So, of course he would join CAP to make sure that something that had already happened would someday happen.

It's becoming a bizarre sideshow for the hearings, and even prompted a sequel to the Coot-Off, as Ted Kennedy laid a smackdown on Arlen Specter about the CAP records, and the Specterman gaveled back like he'd never gaveled before. (Video here.)

If the CAP records are made public, and it's looking increasingly likely that they will be, I don't think you're going to see much there that implicates Alito -- no photos of him and his ROTC friends cracking down on the rowdy riff-raff of Delta House -- but it will shed light on the core interests of this group. I don't know why Alito's denied it so much, but he's backed himself into a corner and it could likely prove embarrassing.

Personally, I would've loved to see these hearings turn into a reasoned debate on the limits of executive power. That's where the issues that matter lie, and that's where the Democrats could've gotten the most traction, especially with libertarian independents. Instead, the confirmation hearings have been reduced to the usual infotainment stuff of cable news. This is what we get for having our national dialogue hosted by emcee Wolf Blitzer and the Where-Da-White-Women-At? dancers. All spectacle, all the time.


Thrillhous said...

I couldn't agree more with your last paragraph about the lack of substantive issues so far. Well, it does seem like they're covering the substantive stuff somewhat in the hearings, but all I see in the nightly news recaps is the catfighting kind of stuff.

Apparently Katie Couric was in attack dog mode this morning on NBC when she interviewed Joe Biden, and he set her straight about what was really important about the proceedings. Hopefully C&L will have the clip soon.

Otto Man said...

I'm not sure how many people will click on the ROTC link, but I'd like to say right now that (1) I think an ad campaign of Alito-as-Niedermeyer would, in all likelihood, help swing voters away from him and (2) if it does work, I want whatever profits accrue.

P.S. I am not a crank.

ORF said...

They've had the hearings on NPR each morning on the WNYC affiliate during the usual Brian Lehrer timeslot from 10-12. I guess not enough people were tuning in because yesterday, Brian was back saying that they'd have an otherwise regular schedule unless anything exciting happened, in which case they'd flip over to the hearings.