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Saturday, January 14, 2006 

Brooks on Alito and the Democratic Party

I've been browbeaten by one of my readers to pay more attention to NYT columnist David Brooks. Yeah, I finally buckled. Brooks recently had a column about Judge Alito called "Losing the Alitos". In the reprint in the Journal-Sentinel, it was re-titled "Alito hearings show why Democrats are losers." Ouch. Anyway, I'm too cheap and too ideologically opposed to the NYT to pay for their Times Select subscription, so here's a link to another blog that reproduced a good chunk of it. I'll fill in the blanks where I feel the need.

I found this interesting...
Alito emerged from his middle-class neighborhood about that time, made it to Princeton and found "very privileged people behaving irresponsibly."

Alito wanted to learn; the richer liberals wanted to strike. He wanted to join ROTC; the liberal Princetonians expelled it from campus. He was orderly and respectful; they were disorderly and disrespectful. The experience was so searing that he mentioned it in the opening of his confirmation hearing 37 years later.
I think that there are a lot of people out there who don't understand this situation. College changes people. I think that the avenue of change that you take depends heavily on your background. Some people go to college and get swept up into political movements, protests, Chomsky reading clubs, and radicalism. Some people go to college and are disgusted by the behavior that they observe. I'm in category two. When I entered college as a freshman way too many years ago, I had a very passive interest in politics. I considered myself to be a weak supporter of the Republicans (mostly because of disgust directed towards the Clintons), but I wasn't hardened in my beliefs. Hell, I voted for Kohl in 2000.

Over the course of that year, I observed behavior similar to the behavior that Judge Alito observed at Princeton. I started to ask myself questions about what I believed. That got me reading, a lot. My views became more concrete, and the lines between ideologies less blurred. My political views are as much of a rejection of liberal campus politics than any other ideological stance. I, like Judge Alito, have been pushed to support the Republican party (even though I disagree with much of their platform) because I can't stomach the idea of siding with the Democrats. Brooks continues...
If you listened to Leahy or Sen. Russ Feingold, you heard men alarmed by the threats posed by American counter-terrorists. The Democratic questions implied that American counter-terrorists are guilty until proven innocent, that a police state is being born.

If forced to choose, most Americans want a party that will fight aggressively against the terrorists, not the National Security Agency.
If forced to choose, I want a party that will fight aggressively for men like Judge Alito and Chief Justice Roberts. Even if I don't agree with that party on every issue, I'm going to do everything that I can to keep them in power to give me good judges. The alternative is so much worse.

Brooks closes...
The big story of American politics, which was underlined by every hour of the Alito hearings, is that sometime between 1932 and 1968, the DNA of the Democratic Party fundamentally changed. In 1932, the Democrats had working-class DNA. Today, the Democrats have different DNA, the DNA of a minority party.
Take the hearing questions from one of the Democratic senators and imagine that they ran for president on that. Could they win? I don't think so. Brooks is right that the current Democratic party, if honest about their beliefs, is resigned to minority status. They win by moving to the center, and doing things like supporting law enforcement (not railing on about "Gestapo-like tactics" as Kennedy said). Brooks' analysis here is spot on.

You make a very good point, as does the article. I vote Democratic, because I can't stomach the Republicans. However, I am extremely frustrated with natoinal Democrats who continue to makes such silly choices. What good does it do to delay the Alito nomination? It makes "us" look like obstructionist sore losers. I'm much like you, I don't support all the Dems stand for but they're my best choice.
Thanks for a good post!

I think it boils down to the interest groups. PFAW and friends control a lot of money and power. They are part of the Democratic base, whether sensible Democrats like it or not. They are demanding a fight here, and they really don't care how anyone else in the country perceives it.

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