Friday, January 13, 2006

Re: The Times’ Editorial Page Should Adopt The Position That Alito’s Nomination Should Be Filibustered

January 13, 2006, 11 a.m.

Re: The Times’ Editorial Page Should Adopt The Position That Alito’s Nomination Should Be Filibustered And Democrats Should Simultaneously Say They Would Instantly Vote To Confirm Arlen Specter Were He Nominated.
From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel

Dear Colleagues:

As readers know, this blogger not infrequently assails The New York Times for actions he considers journalistically inappropriate or, sometimes, even misconduct. So in fairness I wish to say, oppositely, that The Times’ coverage of and editorials on the Alito nomination have been very good, very good indeed. While I do not agree with everything said in the editorials, the fact remains that the news pages and the editorials regarding the Alito nomination have been excellent. They exemplify why much of the country, especially those of us who are not wacked-out right wingers, rely on The Times for the news and hope for reasonable editorials from it (as opposed to the crap that one gets from the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, a paper whose news pages are, however, excellent -- I especially recommend Jess Bravin to readers).

In addition to The Times’ news columns and editorials being very good, its letters to the editor, as so often, have been very revealing. If they are any measure, it would appear that a whole lot of people are not buying, and are very worried because of, Alito’s refusal to say where he ultimately stands on abortion rights or on the President’s falsely claimed constitutional power to override Congressional law. And at least some of the people who are not buying seem to recognize that the reason Alito won’t say where he stands is that the White House, the right wing nutjobs in the Senate, and Alito himself know that he would almost surely be rejected by the Senate if he did candidly tell people where he stands. There are a lot of people in this country -- and, based on what one is seeing and hearing on TV and is reading in the papers, perhaps even a heavy majority -- who, even though many of them are conservative in general, do not want the right of a woman to obtain an abortion to be destroyed or heavily chipped away, and do not want the president to be an all-powerful king.

As far as I know, there may be one or two Timesmen who sometimes read what is said here. One hopes that they may chance to read this posting and will pass on a suggestion it makes to The Times’ editorialists, who might then adopt it. One also hopes that lay readers may agree with the suggestion and may email (or write) The Times about it.

The suggestion I have in mind is that The Times should adopt an idea put forth here yesterday (i.e., on Thursday, January 12th). That suggestion is that the Democrats, for reasons canvassed yesterday, should at one and the same time filibuster the Alito nomination and announce that they would immediately confirm Arlen Specter were he nominated for the Supreme Court. In such a combination of actions, one thinks, lies the greatest chance of stopping the Alito nomination, for reasons given yesterday. Were The Times to make the suggestion its own, the chances that it would be acted upon by the Democrats, and that we would get a decent Supreme Court nominee instead of someone who bears the marks of possibly being a right winger, would be greatly enhanced I think.

One has been struck by factors indicating that there may indeed be a lot of opposition to Alito out in the country, as it is said. Phone calls made to TV anchors, letters in columns of letters to the editor, and TV interviews in the street have surprised me in this regard. As well, a Times’ editorial reports that, in a recent Harris poll, almost 70 percent of the respondents said "that they would oppose Judge Alito’s confirmation if they thought he would vote against constitutional protection for abortion rights." (This was the reason, The Times correctly continued, that "he was not likely to say at his hearings" that he would not protect abortion rights. In my view he felt he could not give any ultimate answer on abortion rights since, in all probability, he did not want to lie about his views but knew that stating them would cost him the nomination.) And, on a TV program shown from Maine to roughly D.C. on which this blogger appeared on Tuesday night, and which had two very conservative panelists, a straw poll of viewers showed, midway through the program, that 52 percent of the respondents thought Alito was not too conservative to be confirmed and only 48 percent thought he was, but at the end of the program the same poll showed, quite remarkably, that by then 70 percent of the respondents thought that Alito was too conservative to be confirmed and only 30 percent thought he wasn’t. This is only one of those television polls, of course, not any kind of statistically valid sampling. Yet, it seems indicative in light of all the other things one is seeing.

So, as said, there seems to be a lot of concern over Alito out there in the country. A filibuster might well enjoy widespread public support -- enough even to change the mind of the pro-abortion-rights Olympia Snowe about opposing a filibuster -- if it were combined with statements showing reasonableness as evinced by statements that the Democrats would immediately vote to confirm the moderate and reasonable Republican, Arlen Specter.

Perhaps this blogger is deeply misled about the matter, but I think such a combination of actions would be desirable, would be popular, could help the country avoid possible tragedies in the field of abortion rights and executive power, and ought to be adopted by The Times’ editorialists (and the editorialists at other papers, too, one would add). If any Timesman reads this posting and thinks well of the idea, I hope he or she will pass it on to the paper’s editorialists. If any lay readers think well of it, I hope they will take a moment to email The Times editorial page about it.*

*This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel. If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.

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