January 12, 2006
Have you no sense of decency?By Thomas Lifson
Most Americans were not glued to their televisions yesterday watching the Alito confirmation hearings. But today a substantial portion of the electorate is aware that Judge Alito's wife Martha—Ann Bomgardner was driven to tears, as Senator Lindsey Graham apologized to the nominee and his family for the hectoring and smearing he and they had endured.
It was one of those moments which encapsulate a complex drama, speaking to common (and noble) human emotions. Anyone who has ever stoically attempted to control the deep pain of seeing a loved one suffering or under stress knows that the merest expression of sympathy is enough to burst the dam, and let the cathartic tears flow.
All of us who love, who have watched our loved ones under duress, and who have received support understand Martha—Ann Bomgardner, even if the subtleties of the theory of the unitary executive and stare decisis elude us.
The network news honchos, for all their liberal bias, know that 'If it bleeds it leads,' and in this case, 'If it cries, it flies.'
The Judiciary Committee Democrats have disgraced themselves.
The Associated Press, once esteemed for its even—handed reporting, put out a dispatch which implied that Senator Graham was the one who abused the judge, triggering the outburst. That the AP would attempt such a violation of common sense betrays the desperation of the media branch of the Democratic Party. It won't fly because it does not ring true to common experience.
The last time such an obvious disgrace took place in a Senate hearing was almost 52 years ago, in the Army—McCarthy hearings, when Joseph Welch, a Boston lawyer, gained immortality with his rebuke of Senator Joseph McCarty, for his abusive behavior toward a young lawyer, Fred Fisher. Fisher was working with Welch, and had once been a member of the Lawyers Guild, a leftist organization which McCarthy tarred as suspiciously communist.
Two of Welch's phrases have been figuratively engraved in marble, lending the neologism 'McCarthyism' its flavor of extreme, unreasonable, and mean persecution of people with guilt by association.
Half a century later, history has repeated itself, this time not with words, but with the moving sight of a wife reduced to tears by her husband's time on the witness table cross.
Senator Kennedy is, if anything, an even less sympathetic figure than Joseph McCarthy. While Kennedy's brother may have been a martyr struck down by an assassin, McCarthy never left a young woman to die in a submerged car. The way in which Senator Kennedy has lived his life disgraces whatever nobility might have adhered to him from his brother's end.
As I recently wrote, most Americans do not pay attention to politics most of the time, and form vague images of the two parties based on accumulated fragmentary inputs. Because of media bias, most of the time this process favors the Democrats.
Yesterday, even those unconcerned by politics paid attention because of the human drama. A new iconic incident has just entered our political tradition. Political affiliation is both an intellectual and an emotional matter. It requires a level of intellectualizing beyond the capacity of most of us to affiliate oneself with a repulsive waddling—fat bully.
It took the GOP decades to recover from the damage inflicted by the lasting imagery of McCarthy the bully. Anti—communism, fairly or not, became stigmatized for a generation.
It was anti—racism fanaticism, the attempt to tar Judge Alito as a bigot, which was at the root of yesterday's drama. If anything, the average American today has more personal experience of being impugned as a racist than the 1950s American had of being impugned as a communist. Voters have far more to identify with in Alito than they ever did in the McCarthy hearings.
The only question now is how long it will take the Democrats to understand the disaster they have created for themselves.
Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of The American Thinker.