Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Art of Strategic Evasiveness ...

If we've learned anything from the Alito Nomination Hearings, it's how to perfect the Art of Strategic Evasiveness. Sun Tzu would be jealous. Clausewitz would be knocking his head on a wall screaming "Why didn't I think of that while immersed in total war?" We feel R.J. Matson's linked editorial cartoon in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch best captures this situation.

So, what's the purpose of even having a confirmation hearing if it's already accepted that the nominee won't answer the questions? Seems practical to spare the American public the hypocrisy of the process and leave us to our tabloid headliners, our celebrity sightings, our ring tones and our iTunes for $.99-a-song (when you could've purchased an mp3 $100 cheaper and got unlimited downloads for $10-15/mnth).

For all the indignation and incredulity shared by clones in the Senate on selecting a nominee untainted by the perversion of "political agendas," the process seems awfully political. They say judge according to the judge's committment to the Rule of Law - yet, he wouldn't have been considered for nomination if he hadn't done something political in the first place. We even caught a glimpse of Mr. Dog and his trusty sidekick Pony (stars of the hit Dog & Pony Show) dozing in the hearing room. Obviously, since Reagan's infamous Bork nomination, the Senate has shown its ability to absolve itself from any obligation to the Constitution as it relates to this process.

Props to Sens. Kohl (D-WI) & Leahy (D-VT) for bringing up Alito's questionable views on voting rights - we've heard more from them on the subject than the Congressional Black Caucus. Sen. Kennedy (D-MA) gets a holla for sparring with Specter (R-PA) to subpoena documents concerning Alito's membership in some nefarious, shady club of White ivy league exclusivniks known as Concerned Alumni of Princeton. Here's an excerpt from a 1983 article titled "In Defense of Elitism" in their magazine Prospect:

"People nowadays just don't seem to know their place. Everywhere one turns, blacks and Hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and Hispanic. The physically handicapped are trying to gain equal representation in professional sports. And homosexuals are demanding the government vouchsafe them the right to bear children."

But on the real: what powerful, influential or decision-making White man doesn't have some unseemly or embarrassing racial activity tucked away in his past? And then they all grow up, run companies, make laws, start wars and it's all forgotten until a nosy reporter sniffs the scent. It's the national past time ...

That was as much drama as we should expect from this hearing (because we already know the script). It added flavor to an otherwise dull, depressing and outright insulting moment in American history.

And so we arrive at the issue of abortion. We grow tired of this topic dominating every aspect of this hearing and the process. To watch old men battle over it is even more frustrating. It seems we can't even talk about landmark cases impacting African Americans unless we talk about abortion. Suddenly, Plessy v. Ferguson & Brown v. Board of Ed. have nothing to do with Black folks and 400 years of slavery & Jim Crow. It overshadows topics that are just as critical, just as key - and, because of it, we get little background on his consideration of other issues such as Civil Rights, Voting Rights, Redistricting and Affirmative Action. This hearing shows us that the Black political establishment has scant - if any - influence on the process. Our voice in this hearing is merely a whisper in the hall outside. We merely scrub the marble floors afterwards.