Alito is in, what were the Democrats playing at?

In the end it was a walkover. First 41 Democrats couldn't be found to support a filibuster (out of 44 and 1 independent) AND they didn't have the sense to avoid a cloture vote.

Thank you again, Senator "I-only-need-to-win-New-Hampshire-to-be-President" John Kerry. I guess in a year's time we should be grateful we won't be hearing about how Senator Kerry actually voted for cloture before voting against it.

Then, 58 Senators voted for Sam Alito, a rather more comfortable score than might have been anticipated, given just how mad and disappointed the liberal base is going to be over this result.

Where did the Democrats blow it?

1) They picked a terrible candidate for U.S. President in 2004. A man George W. Bush could beat in Iowa, Ohio, Florida, West Virginia and New Mexico. A man who nearly lost Oregon, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and even Minnesota. Who barely won New Hampshire and apparently thought that he didn't need to gain anywhere else (someone must have explained the 10-yearly census to him before polling day).

A better candidate for president and the whole issue would never have arisen.

2) They simultaneously wanted to derail Alito on abortion, but didn't want anti-abortion voters to know about it.

So we had the grotesque performance of Senator Ted Kennedy trying to sound upset about Judge Alito's treatment of women. Unlike the Massachusetts Senator, Mr Alito was not held to be responsible for abandoning a car in a ditch with a woman inside it to drown. The judge's "crime" was to join a student society that didn't allow women members, in about 1973. Which would sound one heck of a more convincing felony if the person making the accusation weren't himself a member of similar clubs and societies. I think they tried to pin some vague suggestion that some of the people attending this club were racists, a bit like that Democratic Senator who once joined the Ku Kux Klan, and I'm awaiting the refusal of other Democratic Senators to share a platform with him.

The bit they might have had something to say for themselves was in the question of presidential powers, at a time when there was a row brewing over the federal government's use of surveillance against U.S. citizens. If it were true that judge Alito would give too much leeway to a President, then I'd say this was something to chisel away at the moderate Republican Senators with. But not after the buffoonery of Senator Kennedy.

3) The cloture debate: at one point Senator Harry Reid was said by the clerk in the U.S. Senate chamber to have voted in favour of closing the debate, before hurriedly being corrected to a "nay" vote. The leader of Democrats in the Senate had said a week ago that there had been sufficient time for Senators to discuss the appointment, but obviously a week later this was no longer true.

So by tonight, Alito will be sworn in, by May he will be interpreting the Constitution, and Democrats will be fighting other Democrats over who is to blame.

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