Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Tears for Smears

During the Senate confirmation hearings of Judge Samuel Alito today, Alito's wife broke down in tears at one point and had to leave the proceedings for a period of time. She was reacting to Sen. Lindsey Graham's comments praising Alito as a "good man" in the face of harsh questioning from Democratic senators on the panel.

While I take issue with Senator Graham's comments, I also find it odd that the families of Supreme Court nominees are invited to attend the hearings and sit directly behind the nominee. I mean, when I go on a job interview, I don't bring my family with me. Why would the family come along to sit through the often tedious and sometimes humiliating confirmation process? At least Judge Alito hasn't had to respond to questions about pubic hairs on Coke cans...yet. Justice Clarence Thomas' family had the "good fortune" to sit through that riveting verbal intercourse nearly 15 years ago.

No doubt the handlers of Judge Alito want America to see the supportive family that stands - or sits - behind the man. That's all well and good, but I still think it's a bit inappropriate. Martha Alito's tearful episode today, in full view of the Senate panel and an international television audience, didn't do herself or her husband any favors. Sure, it might score some points with the "sympathy" crowd, but ultimately it serves as an unnecessary diversion from the issues at hand.

Martha Alito shouldn't be criticized for her display of emotion. On the contrary, one can fully understand why the comments about her husband - both pro and con - might tug at her heartstrings. Sadly, she shouldn't have been put in that position in the first place. It's not fair to her, to her husband or to the very serious process unfolding this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee's chambers. Perhaps future nominees and their families will choose to do otherwise. One can hope so, anyway.


At 1:06 AM, Blogger Neil Shakespeare said...

I agree. What if she puked instead? Or what if Grandma died?!!

At 11:22 AM, Blogger DrewL said...

Speaking of puking...remember when President Bush 41 did so all over the Japanese Prime Minister? Now THAT was a classic.

At 1:33 PM, Blogger vcthree said...

You're right, Drew; if you go to an interview for a regular job, you aren't bringing grandma, mom, your wife and kids (you gotta have more than one if the stunt's going to work), and Uncle Ned into the room with you.

The reason why the families are even at these things to begin with is because it's great political P.R. for the nominee. Personally, if I were the spouse, I'd be bored as hell having to sit there all the live-long day, while a bunch of elected politicos pontificate for 15 minutes about nothing, then having to sit there and listen to my spouse dodge answers left and right.

I know there's the criricism out there that Martha Alito's crying was staged. I'm going to assume it wasn't--I don't think you can coach emotions like that. But the fact that she's even in there to begin with, arguably, could be open to criricism of whether her presense in the room was a stunt onto itself. And these hearings are nothing more than another episode of "American Grandstand" anyway, so there's that.

At 1:41 PM, Blogger vcthree said...

actually, what I meant to say was, criticism.

At 3:38 PM, Blogger DrewL said...

I know I wouldn't want to sit there day after day listening to my spouse be alternately praised and belittled. Talk about a range of emotions to deal with. At some point, the emotional breaking point has to be reached and it has to be let out.

Again, I don't have a problem with her showing emotion. It's understandable. I just wish they would stop the practice of inviting family to attend. It's not like it's a company picnic or something, after all. Perhaps they feel the family's presence will soften the opposition a bit. Whatever. That just doesn't do it for me.


Post a Comment

<< Home