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Friday, January 13, 2006

All We Could Have Hoped For

So, where do we go from here? Samuel Alito will soon become Associate Justice Alito. All things considered, the process of moving this conservative judge through the confirmation process has gone better than anyone could have hoped for. Rich Lowry over at NRO offers what to me sounds like a bookend on the ugly process of "borking" that commenced in 1987:
Twenty years later, he is about to assume a seat on the Supreme Court. Part of what so offended conservatives about President Bush’s initial nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers was that it bypassed the counterestablishment that had been built so painstakingly. As Stanley Kurtz of the Hudson Institute has argued, Alito’s pick signals a shift in the nomination strategy of Republican presidents. No longer do they need unremarkable “stealth candidates,” but they can go with nominees from the growing ranks of credentialed conservatives, because Alito shows that talent and intelligence are the most formidable weapons.

It helps, of course, that there are 55 Republican senators. The work of the Federalist Society and others in honing conservative constitutionalist arguments through the years has been indispensable. There is no substitute for intellectual rigor, which some early conservative counterestablishment outfits didn’t have. The publication of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton seems to have aimed to vent and repel as much as to argue and convince. But conservatives came to realize that the crucial thing wasn’t to get even with the liberal establishment, but to get better — smarter, more qualified, more persuasive.

At the Alito hearings, it is now liberal senators who flail wildly and convince no one. Maybe their establishment needs revivifying, or they need a counter-counterestablishment of their own. If so, there can be no better advice than: Watch Samuel Alito and learn.
Seems we've come just about full circle - what once was a dignified process by which an accomplished nominee could be examined for fitness of character and intellect devolved into an ugly exercise in personal destruction for partisan gain. It apears that we have returned to a level where a man of substance like Samuel Alito shines through the flying mud and can rightly assume his place on the court.

Republicans should be very pleased with themselves for having made this possible, for, contrary to Lowry's observation, it was not the presence of 55 GOP senators that made this possible, but the desire of Republican activists to see legal standouts like Sam Alito ascend to the Court and the foolhardy obstinance of the Democratic party in not allowing it to happen (see Daschle, Tom) that produced 55 GOP senators.

Elections matter. Issues matter. Talent matters. Activism matters. It's a good day for those who value excellence.

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