Jewish World Review Jan. 13, 2006/ 13 Teves, 5766

Wesley Pruden

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Soap and a scrub, a wink and a smile | Plundering septic tanks, scouring the refuse for weapons of personal destruction, is nasty business, as the Democrats of the U.S. Senate learned to their sickly sweet sorrow yesterday.

Amtrak insisted that Joe Biden ride in the baggage car back to Wilmington last night, Teddy Kennedy had to sleep in the garage (the family dogs left home in a snit) lest he track his slime into the house, and Dick Durbin's missus will be cleaning him up with tar soap and disinfectant for a week.

Nobody likes being called a bigot, but Sam Alito emerged from his ordeal by smear with a wink and a smile (some people thought it looked more like a smirk). There was nothing on the bottom of his shoes. And why not? He looked like a man speeding toward a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The day began badly for the Democrats and got worse. Just before the lunch break Teddy, the aging lion of the Senate, growled that he wanted to take a look at the records of Concerned Alumni of Princeton, organized three decades ago to protest, among other things, admitting women to the university and the expulsion of ROTC from the campus. Teddy's concern, taken at face value (which nobody did) seems a little rich, since he is a member himself of an organization that openly practices and advocates sexual and religious discrimination. But he had found a satirical article in the organization's magazine, now defunct, that the Democrats imagined was their eureka! moment, like the moment a generation ago when the Democrats discovered a pubic hair on Clarence Thomas' Coca-Cola can.

Dinesh D'Souza, who edited the magazine on that long-ago day, doesn't remember the essay but since sophomores usually write the sophomoric essays in undergraduate magazines he suspects that it was written by a sophomore. The paragraph that shocked Teddy, ever the dry-land protector of women, and turned Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, where people are easily shocked, a ladylike shade of crimson, reads like the work of a sophomore:

"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 that government vouchsafe them the right to bear children."

The feminist movement subsequently more or less died, but it's not at all clear that this particular article is what killed the movement. Single-sex education lives, mostly on the campuses of elite women's colleges, but neither is it clear that the essay in the Princeton undergraduate magazine is responsible for saving Smith, Wellesley and the like from the invasion of loutish male body-snatchers. (Gay blades are still working on the rest of it.)

But at day's end, with Judge Alito on his way home to a well-deserved martini or two with the long-suffering Mrs. Alito, she having dried her tears, the subdued clowns of the Senate Judiciary Committee were looking for holes to crawl into. Sen. Patrick Leahy, chagrined at having let down his constituents back home in the boutique called Vermont, was typical of the shellshocked. "You know," he had prefaced a question to Judge Alito earlier, "this may seem to be bouncing around here a little bit, [but] I'm trying to pull together my own mind."

Addled or not, the Democratic senators have not given up. After 18 hours of strut and splutter over four days with more than 700 questions, most of them tediously repetitive, larded with legalese and asked with bullying and passion (as if they actually understood the questions written for them by their staffs), the senators are thought to be plotting further obstruction, obfuscation and delay.

The inevitable has been delayed already. Sen. Arlen Specter, the committee chairman, earlier granted a delay of more than a month, and the Democrats have had more than two months to review the Alito record and design their questions. This is twice as long as the Republicans got from their Democratic colleagues to prepare for the hearings for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The deal was that Judge Alito would get a vote by Jan. 25, and now the Democrats are expected to seek further delay of a floor vote in hopes of blocking the final vote indefinitely.

They would have their lately anointed heroine, Sandra Day O'Connor. She has resigned, sort of, but wants to stay on the court until her successor is confirmed. This would give Teddy, Dick, Patrick and the gang a few more weeks to prowl through a few more septic tanks.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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