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January 13, 2006
The DNA of a Minority Party
I was listening to the Kennedy—Alito exchange on Concerned Alumni of Princeton when it occurred to me that at last the mask had slipped and revealed something which to date had been less obvious: the contempt the Democratic leadership, many of whom have inherited or married into great wealth, for middle class virtues and values, the very virtues and values which to me are so essential to what I consider America's special character.
Oh, I know that it has long been said with sound basis that the Democratic Party engages in class welfare. But the target of that warfare has usually been masked by the framework of their Bob Shrumian campaigns against the "rich." (Nevermind, that when it comes to tax and other issues the fine print indicates they have a laughably low threshold for defining the term, they have at least talked that talk.)
Look carefully at the Kennedy—Alito exchange.
On one hand we had the son of privilege. He went to fine universities at a time when it was easy for the son of a rich and powerful man to do so without much effort. While at Harvard he joined a club which was sexist and elitist and which was thrown off campus in 1984 for violating federal anti—discrimination laws. Even with a greased entry, he failed to meet his obligations as a student. He was expelled from Harvard for having hired another student to take his exams for him.
His personal character is so well known — from Mary Jo Kopechne's death about which no one thinks he is free of responsibility and yet no one ever subjected him to even minimal official interrogation or punishment — to his celebrating Good Friday by taking his nephew out to bars cruising for chicks.
A lifetime of profligate bad behavior is his legacy.
While he rails that the government doesn't take enough from the "rich" to do enough for the poor, his own income is derived largely from a tax—free Tahitian trust set up by his father. While he purports to "fight" for minorities and women, his behavior toward women has always been abominable, and I recall in his long political career no minority or woman holding a significant policy position on his large staff. He is, in sum, the kind of privileged reprobate the Democratic party used to rail against.
On the other hand, we have Judge Alito, the brilliant, hard working son of an immigrant, who worked hard, attended public schools, earned his admission to Princeton, ate in coed dining halls, not elitist eating clubs, and all his professional life has treated all his staff — including minorities and women — well. A public official all his life, he is not a rich man. Not a single instance of irresponsible behavior or tax avoidance could apparently been found or we'd have heard of it. He is seemingly devoted to his family and they to him.
He is, in sum, the very sort of person who used to be considered the backbone of the Democratic Party.
And yet, because while in college he joined a club to protest Princeton's treatment of ROTC decades ago, and one or more of the club members published some reprehensible material decades ago, Alito was being castigated as a racist and sexist by a bullying Kennedy.
What's wrong with this picture?
In the New York Times, Brooks says ($link) what I thought:
The class warfare which has become the party's leitmotif — along with unrestricted abortion and a flaccid foreign policy and even more limp wristed defense posture — has morphed from a fight against the rich to a fight against the very people who made the party and without whom it cannot survive. And, this is the most obvious lesson of the Kennedy—Alito exchange: The Democrats' leaders are so blinkered they do not even grasp this.