Abramoff on the Mind

For those of you who don’t think Abramoff is on the mind of Republicans, I offer you this statement from Lindsey Graham:

Let me tell you this: Guilt by association is going to drive good men and women away from wanting to sit where you’re sitting. And we’re going to go through a bit of this ourselves as congressmen and senators.

People are going to take a fact that we got a campaign donation from somebody who’s found out to be a little different than we thought they were — and our political opponent’s going to say, “Aha, I got you!”

And we’re going to say, “Wait a minute. I didn’t know that. I didn’t take the money for that reason.”

And you know what? I’m going to believe these senators and congressmen for the most part, because that’s the way we do our business. We meet people here every day. We have photos taken with people — and sometimes you wish you didn’t have your photo taken.

But that doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person because of that association.

That was in the middle of his defense of Alito, and no one is talking about how out of place that seems since we are all wrapped up in the tears of Mrs. Alito. The Abramoff scandal is lurking in the background of everything the Republicans in Washington say and think.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, earlier in the hearings:

Sen. Lindsey Graham said he believes Judge Sam Alito when he says he doesn’t remember certain parts of his murder boards.

Alito smiled appreciately.

Continued Graham: “And if any of us come before a court and say we can’t remember Abramoff, you’ll believe us.”

“Abramoff who?” queried another Senator.

“Wasn’t he the guy in the Bible?” asked a third.

Lindsey Graham is preoccupied with something, and it isn’t Sam Alito.

*** Update ***

I should probably add that I don’t think Graham is embroiled in this whole Abramoff mess, or at least I hope he isn’t. I think what is motivating his concern is that he has a legal background and apparently thinks there is a lot to this scandal.






103 replies
  1. 1

    I’m pretty sure it was Graham who also made a joke about the Abramoff scandal during the hearings.

    If it was Graham, and taking this other comment into consideration, I’d say someone has something to hide.

  2. 2
    srv says:

    … from somebody who’s found out to be a little different than we thought they were

    Abramoff is gay?

  3. 3
    Pooh says:

    K-Street is officially don’t ask, don’t tell. Unless you are under federal indictment.

  4. 4
    erez says:

    And it should be in the back of their minds! If fear of an ethically compromised reputation is what it will take to keep our elected officials acting in an ethical manner, by all means, let an image of Abramoff be branded on each and everyone of their foreheads the day they take their oath of office.

  5. 5
    erez says:

    In response, to srv’s comment:

    Abramoff is gay?

    That will explain the urgency in which the entire Republican party is distancing themselves from him.

  6. 6

    Yup, It was Graham…

    GRAHAM: I guess there’s no rule against beating a dead horse, or we’d all have quit a long time ago.

    (LAUGHTER)

    So in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to ask you the same questions you’ve been asked for a whole day.

    (LAUGHTER)

    And I hope you’ll understand if any us come before a court and we can’t remember Abramoff, you will tend to believe us.

    (LAUGHTER)

    (CROSSTALK)

  7. 7
    John Cole says:

    Thanks DEV. I already updated, but do you have the actual transcript?

  8. 8
    Zifnab says:

    Thank you, John. For a second I thought every major blog on the internet (even dKos and Crooks’n’Liars) was going to miss this.

    Some of the things you catch while actually watching these hearings… you’re just left wondering whether these guys remember that they’re on camera.

    But FOX caught Alito’s wife crying, so I guess that’s a news rap for the day.

  9. 9
    Ancient Purple says:

    Here’s the problem with Graham’s take:

    “Sure, Jack Abramoff was the highest profile lobbiest in Washington for the past five years. Sure, he contributed to our campaigns. Sure, he was a ‘pioneer’ for the President because he raised $100,000 for his campaign. Sure, we got trips to St. Andrew’s to golf our hearts out. Sure, we had free dinners at one of the Beltway’s most exclusive restaurants.

    However, I can honestly tell you that I didn’t participate in any of that to help out Jack Abramoff or to be influenced. In fact, Abramoff is just another face in the crowd of the hordes of people I meet every day who try to influence me in a particular fashion.”

    Only a complete idiot would believe that.

  10. 10
    Ancient Purple says:

    Oy..

    lobbyist.

  11. 11

    Thanks DEV. I already updated, but do you have the actual transcript?

    You’re welcome and I do not.

  12. 12
    KC says:

    Wow. Interesting catch, John. I still think the whole Abramoff affair is going to blow over though.

  13. 13

    Yea, blow over like a hurricane.

  14. 14
    Paddy O'Shea says:

    I hope Lindsey doesn’t cry.

    Can you imagine if sobbing were to become the heart and soul of the Republican defense against the vast array of scandals maturing on their doorsteps this year?

    Maybe they’ve decided whining and crying is an effective defense tool for them?

    What it could mean is that perhaps they have spent too much time sitting in their offices reading rightwing blogs.

    And because of that they have become pussified.

  15. 15

    I’m calling my Senator, Barbara Boxer, and asking her to lead a filibuster.

  16. 16
    maybee says:

    That was in the middle of his defense of Alito, and no one is talking about how out of place that seems since we are all wrapped up in the tears of Mrs. Alito.

    First of all, I will say of course the whole lobby/money scandal is one all the Congressman’s minds in Washington. Abramoff and others, I am sure.

    But this statement wasn’t out of place, and the jist of it was discussed yesterday. Kennedy was attempting to associate Alito with the words of another person because Alito was associated with a group the other person was in. Alito was (however informally) involved with CAP –>Someone from CAP wrote bigoted remarks –>Alito must have embraced this thinking at one time.

    John Kerry Protested the Vietnam War at a Rally–>Jane Fonda spoke at the Rally –>John Kerry supported all the things Jane Fonda said about the VietNam war.

    Kennedy takes money from some Irish American group–>Some Irish American groups support the IRA –>Kennedy must support the IRA.

    It’s a ridiculous game to play, Kennedy was playing it, and Graham was right to call him on it.

  17. 17
    maybee says:

    congressm*e*n

  18. 18
    Ancient Purple says:

    But this statement wasn’t out of place, and the jist of it was discussed yesterday. Kennedy was attempting to associate Alito with the words of another person because Alito was associated with a group the other person was in. Alito was (however informally) involved with CAP —>Someone from CAP wrote bigoted remarks—>Alito must have embraced this thinking at one time.

    Because the “Concerned” in Concerned Alumni or Princeton meant the organization was concerned about global warming and dolphin-safe tuna and Third World debt and sunshine and rainbows and ponies and daffodils.

    Gotcha.

  19. 19
    maybee says:

    I give money to Planned Parenthood because I appreciate the fact that they provide easily affordable medical care to women. I support their efforts to provide low cost, legal, and safe reproductive education, birth control, and abortion.
    I do not support it when they counsel 12 year olds that have been raped without notifying their parents or the police. As they have done. I do not agree with or support all of their political positions such as opposing parental notification.

    If I were applying for a job at the UN, I might include that I have been involved in Planned Parenthood fundraisers. It is a liberal group and I think the UN would smile upon me for being involved.
    If I am ever nominated for the Supreme Court, I would expect to be asked why I have supported Planned Parenthood. I would NOT want anyone to assume I agree with all of their positions, or to attack me for agreeing with all of their positions when I do not.

    You can agree with part of what a group stands for without agreeing with everything it stands for. And you can certainly be loosely affiliated with a group without even knowing everything it stands for.

    As every Senator knows.

  20. 20
    The Other Steve says:

    Apparently after Graham’s denial of knowing Jack Abramhoff…

    Pam Abramhoff left the hearing in tears.

  21. 21

    Guilt by association?

    Yes, I guess it would be also wrong to ask someone if they believed in Communism since they once belonged to the Young Communists in America Association…

  22. 22
    The Other Steve says:

    You can agree with part of what a group stands for without agreeing with everything it stands for. And you can certainly be loosely affiliated with a group without even knowing everything it stands for.

    Certainly, unless you are a Liberal…. And then you stand for everything that some liberal somewhere stood for. Including people you’ve never even heard of before or were familiar with what they said.

    In fact, if you stand for the Bill of Rights,
    you support Communists.

    Interesting double standard some people live with.

    I belonged to the Jaycees once, and I knew then what they do, and I still know today. I don’t much care for them, but that’s because I think they operate inefficiently and corruptly, much like Republicans.

  23. 23
    Steve says:

    The allegation, whether you choose to believe it or not, is that the fundamental purpose of this organization was to restrict female and minority enrollment at Princeton in order to return to a more “traditional” student body. That’s the point. This is not about whether he happened to be in the same bridge club with Archie Bunker.

  24. 24
    Sojourner says:

    Pam Abramhoff left the hearing in tears.

    Best line of the day.

  25. 25
    Sojourner says:

    I’m calling my Senator, Barbara Boxer, and asking her to lead a filibuster.

    She’s the only one with the guts to do it.

  26. 26
    demimondian says:

    Yes, I guess it would be also wrong to ask someone if they believed in Communism since they once belonged to the Young Communists in America Association…

    Yessir, Senator McCarthy, sir.

  27. 27
    Pooh says:

    Hold on demi, there’s a difference between “I have the names of 57 Princeton wankers” and “ok, you say you were in this group. And they appear to support some ugly things. WTF?”

    Considering that SCOTUS hears cases on things such as Equal Protection (and thus the rights of minorities and women – groups CAP appeared not to be very fond of), it’s a reasonable line of inquiry. I think it’s a non-story, or should have been, but the Reagan Gambit is unconvincing.

  28. 28
    demimondian says:

    Hmm. Pooh, the famous “At the end, sir, have you no decency?” line was delivered because, in fact, one of Wilson’s aides had been a member of one of the Young Communist Leagues when he’d been much younger. The Chairman, realizing he’d lost control of the hearings, brought that up as a distraction. So I felt that the comparison was entirely apt — the aide had long since disavowed Communism, and yet McCarthy was trying to ruin him by raising his membership many years earlier.

  29. 29
    Ancient Purple says:

    You can agree with part of what a group stands for without agreeing with everything it stands for. And you can certainly be loosely affiliated with a group without even knowing everything it stands for.

    But why would you? What foolishness is it that you join a group without knowing what the group stands for?

    Would you join a group called “Clean Up America” without knowing its full agenda simply because they raised $2 million for the Toys for Tots campaign? What if that was a front for a group that wanted all black Americans shipped to Africa?

    I have to question the intelligence of anyone who would join any organization without fully knowing what the group was about.

  30. 30
    Pooh says:

    Demi, except that it wasn’t Alito’s brother, or one of his clerks, or his roommate, it was him. And he touted his membership, so I don’t think the analogy holds that well. It’s a legit question that should have been easy to answer. “I was young and there weren’t many conservative forums on campus. I was never really that involved, I just thought it would look good on my resume.” No issue.

    Further there is simply no way you can compare McCarthy’s blackballing to anything likely to happen to Alito – sure, in Kennedy’s best case (wildly unlikely) scenario he puts on a white hood and doesn’t get confirmed (and if he’s did, he shouldn’t be, I think we can agree right? But I don’t think that’s what happened and neither do you.), but it’s not like he’s going to get kicked off the federal bench.

  31. 31
    demimondian says:

    What foolishness is it that you join a group without knowing what the group stands for?

    Do you know what the Democratic Party stands for? Is it the same thing for me that it is for you? For John Cole?

  32. 32
    srv says:

    I have to question the intelligence of anyone who would join any organization without fully knowing what the group was about.

    Alito is one of the most brilliant and qualified (ABA gold star rating) nominees we’ve ever had. Period. Maybe he was just undercover in CAP, working for J. Edgar?

  33. 33
    demimondian says:

    We’re at cross purposes here, Pooh. I’m deeply troubled by Alito’s CAP was-he-or-wasn’t-he membership. He’s obviously told at least one lie, either during this set of procedings or on his original application. I think he probably told the truth originally, and would have done better to pull a true Wilson and say “youthful indiscretion”.

    But what do I know? I sure ain’t never gonna sit on the Court, you know…

    I was more responding to the idea that guilt by association was ever valid, even in the case of direct membership. People change, and three decades is time for a lot to change.

  34. 34
    demimondian says:

    And, yes, if Alito rode with the Klan, then he’s really not qualified to sit on SCOTUS, even if he’s had a change of heart. But that’s a bit of an absurdity…I hope.

    You seem to know what CAP stood for better than I do. Can somebody explain the whole thing to me? I got the impression that CAP was an overtly racist and sexist organization in the early seventies at Princeton. Evidently, Alito joined it after he graduated, right?

  35. 35
    Pooh says:

    From what I’ve read, it was a group that wanted Princeton admissions returned to ‘the good old days’ of WASP Males.

    As far as the “guilt by association” thing, I think it’s completely valid – not as a legal standard, but certainly as a clue to what someone is about. Now McCarthyism is not simpy guilt by assoication, it’s a combination of guilt by suspicion of assoication and 6 Degrees of the American Communist Party. Where one draws the line when group membership is a legitimate line of inquiry, I’m not sure. But actual membership which ws touted on a job obligation certainly puts it in play.

  36. 36
    Pb says:

    How about “I was in the Hitler youth, and served in his army as well, but I was young and didn’t really have a choice. Oh, and, God hates fags.”

    Seriously, though, I don’t think we need guilt by association–what matters are his views. But Alito has a long enough record as it is, that’s all you really have to bring up, (which they, by and large, aren’t doing) and that’s what he really has to explain (which he isn’t).

    Also–I find Lindsey Graham’s statements despicable. They looks more like influence peddling and extortion to me–it can’t be a joke, because it isn’t remotely funny.

  37. 37
    Ancient Purple says:

    You seem to know what CAP stood for better than I do. Can somebody explain the whole thing to me? I got the impression that CAP was an overtly racist and sexist organization in the early seventies at Princeton. Evidently, Alito joined it after he graduated, right?

    Perhaps this will help..

    By the time Alito was readying his 1985 job application with the Reagan Administration, the admission of women and minorities was well established at Nassau Hall, but this did not stop CAP from lamenting the consequences. “People nowadays just don’t seem to know their place,” fretted a 1983 Prospect essay titled “In Defense of Elitism.” “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.” By this point the editor of Prospect was Dinesh D’Souza, who brought to its pages a new level of coarseness aimed at those who did not know their place. “Here at Princeton homosexuals are on the rampage,” complained a 1984 news item in Prospect–this after a gay student group had dared to protest being denied permission to hold a dance at a campus club. Another article poked fun at Sally Frank, a Princeton alumna who was suing the university for denying women access to all-male eating clubs. It noted that a Rhode Island woman who’d won a discrimination suit against a mining company had subsequently died in an on-the-job accident. “Sally Frank, take note,” it quipped.

  38. 38
    The Other Steve says:

    I still don’t understand why Alito just didn’t say… “you know, I regret that I ever associated with CAP. At the time I didn’t realize the full import of what they believed in.”

  39. 39
    maybee says:

    The Other Steve, Alito said:

    ALITO: Senator, I’ve testified to everything that I can recall relating to this, and I do not recall knowing any of these things about the organization. And many of the things that you’ve mentioned are things that I have always stood against.

    In your description of the letter that prompted President Bowen’s letter, there’s talk about returning the Princeton that used to be. There’s talk about eating clubs, about all-male eating clubs. There’s talk about the admission of alumni children. There’s opposition to opening up the admissions process. None of that is something that I would identify with.

    I was not the son of an alumnus. I was not a member of an eating club. I was not a member of an eating facility that was selective. I was not a member of an all-male eating facility. And I would not have identified with any of that.

    If I had received any information at any point regarding any of the matters that you have referred to in relation to this organization, I would never have had anything to do with it.


    Is that close enough?

  40. 40
    Pb says:

    Here’s a link for anyone else who was left wondering “What the hell is an eating club“…

    Anyhow, I’m not surprised that Alito wasn’t a member of one–it was a social thing, like a frat. And from all accounts, it sounds like he was a big dork–a big, conservative, dork. Then again, I don’t really care if he was in an “eating club”. I certainly don’t care if he was a child of an alumnus. I *do* care about whether or not he shared their views towards women, minorities, and homosexuals (that is to say, non-straight-white-males, or in other words anyone who isn’t just like him), however.

  41. 41
    maybee says:

    Here’s what he said about that, Pb:

    ALITO: Hard to imagine.

    If that’s what anybody was endorsing, I disagree with all of that. I would never endorse it. I never have endorsed it.

    Had I thought that that’s what this organization stood for I would never associate myself with it in any way.

    Kennedy chose a few articles from a magazine to ask Alito about, and to question if the views expressed in those articles are representative of Alito’s views. Alito said no. Furthermore, there is no indication Alito ever even read those articles.

  42. 42
    ppGaz says:

    Yessir, Senator McCarthy, sir.

    So, help me out here. If this were 1952, and this were a case of a kid in college belonging to some communist-leaning club, and this were Joe McCarthy raking him over the coals 30 years later …. wouldn’t that be, um, McCarthyism?

    So, what exactly is the difference between that and the slurred-speech Kennedy raking Alito over coals wrt CAP?

  43. 43
    Steve says:

    On the one hand, you have Alito saying he had no idea what this organization stood for, and that he would have ditched them in an instant had he known. Which is a good answer.

    On the other hand, you have the fact that he boasted about this membership 10 years later in order to get a job in a conservative administration. If he had no idea what they stood for, why did he think the name would help him?

  44. 44
    ppGaz says:

    If he had no idea what they stood for, why did he think the name would help him?

    I don’t find the two assertions to be contradictory, necessarily.

    He could have believed that CAP was vaguely conservative, which would satisfy the latter assertion, without knowing that it was radical, thereby satisfying the first assertion.

    This argument does not prove Kennedy wrong, but Kennedy’s approach is based on at least as much extrapolation as mine is.

  45. 45
    maybee says:

    Steve-
    You will not be disappointed, I am sure, to hear Alito has an answer for you:

    KENNEDY: You think these are conservative views?

    ALITO: Senator, whatever I knew about this organization in 1985, I identified as conservative. I don’t identify those views [referring to the prior question about racism, etc] as conservative.

    What I do recall as an issue that bothered me in relation to the Princeton administration as an undergraduate and continuing into the 1980s was their treatment of the ROTC unit and their general attitude toward the military, which they did not treat with the respect that I thought was deserving. The idea of that it was beneath Princeton to have an ROTC unit on campus was an offensive idea to me.

    The transcripts are all available at the Washington Post website.

  46. 46
    maybee says:

    OK, I’m laughing at pb’s eating club research. I have to admit, I’d never really heard of one before. Who knew?

    And ppGaz, as I am a frequent lurker here, I must say you have frequently surprised me. I like that.

  47. 47
    demimondian says:

    I’m sort of with ppG on this one. I have many friends from college who were members of groups that were quite radical, and, in later life, looked back at what those groups stood for “in the larger sense” and were horrified. (I’m unusual — the only really radical activity with which I was affiliated was the Sanctuary Movement, which I don’t disavow.)

  48. 48
    Steve says:

    I think the ROTC theory has been thoroughly debunked, which points out the real problem here: Alito is simply not being credible in his responses about this group, unless you are one of the people who is predisposed to accept whatever he says.

  49. 49
    Barry says:

    There’s a good point, that joining a group doesn’t necessarily mean supporting everything said/done by that group. In the case of CAP, however, what was left once the racism and sexism were subtracted?

  50. 50
    ppGaz says:

    So I think what you’ve seen here (in the hearings) is a case of the Dems trying to play good cop – bad cop with a subject who is way too savvy to fall for their tricks. Their goal was either to fish for information or to get Alito to slip up. They failed rather miserably, and did little more than create a grotesque tv show featuring the babbling incoherent Kennedy and the endlessly verbose Biden.

    So they wasted their time and ours, because they did all of this with time that could have been better spent exploring the nominee’s relevent attributes, and at the same time they injured their party with their clumsy theatrics.

    Did I miss anything? Remember this week the next time I am ranting about how our (Dem) party needs to get rid of these old guard dinosaurs who haven’t had an original thought since Howdy Doody was on.

    I’m embarassed to be a frigging Democrat this week.

  51. 51

    Demi, except that it wasn’t Alito’s brother, or one of his clerks, or his roommate, it was him. And he touted his membership, so I don’t think the analogy holds that well. It’s a legit question that should have been easy to answer.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself, Pooh. Alito’s “I don’t recall being a member of CPA but if I did join it was for ROTC” just reeks of BS.

  52. 52
    The Other Steve says:

    I’m sort of with ppG on this one. I have many friends from college who were members of groups that were quite radical, and, in later life, looked back at what those groups stood for “in the larger sense” and were horrified.

    Well, I agree. But again that’s not what he said. Even the quote maybee provided he makes the statement that he didn’t really know what CAP stood for, which I just find incredible. A group that signifigant on campus, and he’s not aware of what they stand for?

    If he’d simply disavowed it, fine. Yes, I agree with that. Hell, when I was in college I hung out with a conservative crowd and wrote some rather radical letters to my student paper. I disavow all of that now, and can only say I was hiked up on Oxycontin at the time and didn’t know any better.

    No. I suspect the real story here is that he simply lied to Ed Meese when he submitted his resume in 1985. He probably thought the porn crusader would be impressed by it and so he made mention of it… probably never having really belonged to the group.

    Frankly, in that sense I don’t think it’s a big deal.

    I’d be more upset if I was a conservative, because he’s now disavowed some of our heritage or whatever.

  53. 53
    ppGaz says:

    A group that signifigant on campus, and he’s not aware of what they stand for?

    Heh. Joe McCarthy himself couldn’t have framed that question better.

    Given the actual history of Princeton, just how “signifigant” would you say the group was? From here they look like a marginalized fringe group that accomplished nothing.

  54. 54
    The Other Steve says:

    Given the actual history of Princeton, just how “signifigant” would you say the group was? From here they look like a marginalized fringe group that accomplished nothing.

    Signifigant enough that he felt it important to note it on a resume.

    Considering nobody else in CAP knew him. I think it’s clear he simply lied on his resume.

    Hey, at least he didn’t lie about having a law degree.

  55. 55
    ppGaz says:

    Signifigant enough that he felt it important to note it on a resume.

    What a completely idiotic answer. The group was “signifigant” because he put it on a resume?

    That’s Darrell-quality material. If I have to choose between believing Alito, and believing Darrell-isms, and absent any proof to the contrary, I am believing Alito.

  56. 56
    Steve says:

    I wasn’t there, but I have seen enough online testimonials that this group was very well-known and notorious in 70’s campus life that I am inclined to believe them.

    It seems to me that, once upon a time, equality for women and minorities in higher education was a radical new idea and there really were people who thought they could undo it with enough effort. Now that they’re on the losing side of history, they all want to deny they ever believed such a thing. I don’t buy it.

    Again, I’m not nearly as troubled by the fact that he joined this group as an impressionable college student, as I am by the fact that he thought it was something to boast about as a mature adult.

  57. 57
    ppGaz says:

    there really were people who thought they could undo it with enough effort

    Of course, and there always will be. But I say again, look at the actual history of Princeton, and its current makeup, and tell me what this group actually accomplished?

    As far as Alito goes, I’d go so far as to say that since I’m a liberal Democrat and he’s a conservative mouth breather Republican, I wouldn’t have picked him. But I can’t find that he’s disqualified, or that he’s unqualified. I can say that there may be some truth to this:

    Missing piece?

    But again I find even that position based on cherry-picked examples and extrapolated facts. Based on cherry-picked and extrapolated data, I can argue that I am the Sultan of Oompapa Mau Mau. So there you are.

  58. 58
    demimondian says:

    Actually, ppG, I think that O’Hare is absolutely right about the observation of a missing piece — and absolutely wrong about what that means.

    In brief, O’Hare argues that Alito lacks a “broad sense of justice”, and raises the example of Brown v. Board. That’s a great example of a sweeping reversal in which the Court said “You know what? We were simply wrong before. Never mind.”

    Here’s my challenge: can somebody find a second example of such a radical revesal which has stood the test of time?

    There are broad sweeping reversals, to be sure, such as _WV Board of Ed. v Barnette_, which overruled _Gobitis_, or _Lawrence v. Texas_, which overruled _Bowers v. Hardwick_. But each of those got there incrementally. The law hates saltation.

    (And as evidence of that…look at _Roe_. It’s likely to collapse, if it does, not because it’s wrong, but because the case has never been makeable that nothing less will work.)

  59. 59
    ppGaz says:

    So demi, what do you think will happen wrt Roe, and what impact will Alito have on that?

    Personally, I don’t think an entire American political worldview based on what one thinks of Roe is a good idea, unless you’re a Republican. Then it’s a convenient implement of demagoguery used by people who don’t give a gnat’s ass about the fate of any zygote and never have. (Hmm, gnat’s ass, and zygote …. okay, moving on …)…

    Anyway, this whole circus this week has been an attempt to trap Alito into some uttering or position that would enable Old Guard Dems to rally their pro choice militia. So the Roe thing seems relevant.

  60. 60
    Otto Man says:

    But I say again, look at the actual history of Princeton, and its current makeup, and tell me what this group actually accomplished?

    The fact that they didn’t succeed doesn’t mean they weren’t a powerful presence on campus during the 1970s and 1980s. The Klan didn’t succeed in their crusade, either, and yet all sides would agree that past membership there is something to be confronted.

    As for the impact that CAP had at the time, Obsidian Wings was a class of ’81 Princeton graduate and remembers the group well. And has a lot to say about what they did. I won’t block-quote it here, since the whole thing is worth a read. But it’s clear that this wasn’t a peripheral group. As OW notes, the group was bankrolled by the man who was at the time the university’s single largest donor.

  61. 61
    ppGaz says:

    As OW notes, the group was bankrolled by the man who was at the time the university’s single largest donor.

    Well, all due respect, that’s just the sort of thing that causes me to dismiss the whole CAP flap as theatrical buffoonery … because it (a) has nothing to do with Alito and (b) is clearly intended to puff up an otherwise weak argument.

    I belong to the Reality Based Community (another fringe group). In the RBC, if you ain’t got some intellectual integrity, you ain’t got nothin. “University’s largest donor” doesn’t feed the bulldog.

  62. 62
    Otto Man says:

    “University’s largest donor” doesn’t feed the bulldog.

    No, but it does help fund an organization. I’m not saying this group had massive grassroots support, but it’s clear that with the support of this donor and others, CAP had funds to make their message heard. This wasn’t some fringe group who never made its presence felt. The publications of this group were distributed all over campus and pushed under the doors of dormrooms.

    I really don’t understand how you can claim that CAP didn’t have a significant presence on campus, when many people who were there in the ’70s and ’80s insist that it did. You’re entitled to your opinions, but I’ll take their eyewitness accounts instead.

  63. 63
    Zifnab says:

    I mean, the other thing that disturbs me is that all this happened in 1985. If Alito was a continuing supporter of CAP to this day, or a member of it’s board, or something equally damning then by all means he should be pinned to it. But this was a Princeton Club he joined twenty years ago. I hardly see it as grounds for denying approval to the Supreme Court.

    If Kennedy wants to make a point, you’ve got those half-dozen cases Alito tried as a District Court judge to put his feet to the fire against. The Marriot case seems a much stronger piece of evidence against Alito than CAP if you want to link him to racial discrimination.

  64. 64
    ppGaz says:

    Well, I think it’s because we are talking around each other.

    CAP might have been a campus noisemaker 25 years ago. I don’t think that question is relevant here. The best I can find in this argument is that if it was a noisemaker in the news, then it’s stain is more firmly planted on Alito. I don’t agree with that line of reasoning at all. I don’t find that there’s any evidence that the CAP-hounds have anything more than a couple words on a piece of old paper, and they are trying to leverage that into a gross characterization, and I’m not buying it.

    What’s more, I’m saying that Dems’ attempt at this is clumsy, ugly, and ineffective, and a waste of time. As a Dem, I vote for it to go away. It’s a loser, and this battle is over, because Alito has the votes. Like I said, I wouldn’t have nominated him, but I can’t find an honorable reason to oppose him.

  65. 65
    ppGaz says:

    Crap, I did it again: “it’s stain” s/b “its stain”

  66. 66
    demimondian says:

    I really don’t understand how you can claim that CAP didn’t have a significant presence on campus, when many people who were there in the ‘70s and ‘80s insist that it did.

    I don’t know if it had a significant presence or not. I wasn’t there. What I will tell you is that a cursory search through the Princeton student papers doesn’t yield any mention of CAP. That’s typically pretty good evidence of marginality.

  67. 67
    ppGaz says:

    If Kennedy wants to make a point, you’ve got those half-dozen cases Alito tried as a District Court judge to put his feet to the fire against.

    Doing this would require engaging the nominee in a lawyerly exchange, and I don’t think Kennedy is up to that. I think he can barely put a sentence together.

  68. 68
    Paddy O'Shea says:

    Now that would be an exercise in futility. A debate between Ted Kennedy and George W. Bush.

    Quite naturally it would electrify the nation as it would provid yet another distraction from the unpleasant realities facing this country right now.

    Did you know that Paris Hilton is coming out with an album? Yep, she’s a musician now.

  69. 69
    Otto Man says:

    What’s more, I’m saying that Dems’ attempt at this is clumsy, ugly, and ineffective, and a waste of time. As a Dem, I vote for it to go away. It’s a loser, and this battle is over, because Alito has the votes. Like I said, I wouldn’t have nominated him, but I can’t find an honorable reason to oppose him.

    I agree that this is relatively minor stuff. I’d much rather see the Dems focus on the important stuff like executive power, reproductive rights, and general matters of government intrusion into privacy matters.

    If Alito had just said, yeah, I belonged to that, but it was a different time, I’d be fine with it. Instead he denied joining it and then said that he joined it because of the ROTC issue. Seems to me like he’s not being entirely honest, and I think that deserves pressing. He opened this up — first with his ’85 statement, and now with his dissembling.

    I don’t know if it had a significant presence or not. I wasn’t there.

    Right, neither was I. But the people who were there — Obsidian Wings, Class of ’81; Stephen Dujack, Class of ’76; and all these people quoted by the Nation — seem to agree that it was a significant group. I’m not sure why you all are insisting that these people with firsthand experience are wrong.

    What I will tell you is that a cursory search through the Princeton student papers doesn’t yield any mention of CAP. That’s typically pretty good evidence of marginality.

    Not sure what you mean by this. The Princeton student paper has spoken to this, and CAP’s status seems clear.

    Again, is CAP the most pressing issue here? No. But the Republicans and Alito are seeking to cover up the truth here, and I don’t think the Democrats should let them. This isn’t worth going to the mattresses over, but I think their effort to rewrite recent history — clumsily, at that — should be rebuffed. The truth matters.

  70. 70
    Otto Man says:

    Forgot the Dujack link.

    And “I don’t know if it had a significant presence or not. I wasn’t there.” is a quote.

  71. 71
    demimondian says:

    A debate between Ted Kennedy and George W. Bush.

    Bush would win — at least he’s sober at some times.

  72. 72
    ppGaz says:

    Seems to me like he’s not being entirely honest, and I think that deserves pressing. He opened this up—first with his ‘85 statement, and now with his dissembling.

    I think he’s being at least as honest as Kennedy is being.
    And if I’m Alito? I’d give Kennedy just enough to get him riled up and then let him swing in the wind.

    Remember, I’ve got the votes. Why give Kennedy anything more than a polite and technically correct answer?

  73. 73
    demimondian says:

    The Princeton student paper has spoken to this, and CAP’s status seems clear.

    I’m sorry, I was unclear. I meant the back issues — in fact, the recent article is exactly why I know the results of the curory search: if the peper had ever mentioned the CAP during that “worthy organization’s heyday”, then they would have cited their coverage in the article.

    Their silence tells me that they never covered it back then.

  74. 74
    demimondian says:

    It’s probably superfluous, but if _The Nation_ is your stongest citation, you’ve got a weak case. :)

    _The Nation’s_ a fun read, but they’re right up there with _The National Review_ and _The Washington Times_ as a reliable source of information. Propaganda? You betcha. Positioning ideas? Darn straight. News? Ehh…not so much.

  75. 75
    Paddy O'Shea says:

    Demi: You never know, Ted might wear an earpiece and negate Georgie’s secret weapon.

  76. 76
    Otto Man says:

    It’s probably superfluous, but if The Nation is your stongest citation, you’ve got a weak case

    Perhaps. But I’ve seen no evidence to support the other side at all, so the evidence of several Princeton alumni and the Nation — as suspect as you may find them — is at least evidence.

  77. 77
    Zifnab says:

    Bush would win—at least he’s sober at some times.

    He’s sober some of the time. But he’s wrong all of the time. So I don’t know…

    Still, regardless of whether the Republicans are trying to cover up CAP, it’s a losing issue. Even if the Dems cracked it wide open and paint Alito as a baby-eating, race-bullying, neanderthallic, spawn of Conservative Hell, it was STILL twenty years ago. All he has to do is wave his hands and point out that he was young and impressionable and that he no longer holds to those archaic beliefs.

    It’s a lose-lose for the Democrats. And so much like Joe Biden’s inability to shut the hell up, Kennedy is proving yet another area in which the Democrats display clinical incompetency. Did they learn nothing from Thomas, Anita Hill, and pubic hairs on soda cans? Honestly!

  78. 78
    ppGaz says:

    Did they learn nothing from Thomas

    Not only did we get what has to be the dumbest justice on the court in my lifetime, we also got a public relations disaster.

    Thomas is a train wreck, no matter how you slice it.

  79. 79
    Steve says:

    Clarence Thomas is not a dumb man in the slightest. I don’t know where you get that from – maybe the same place people get the idea that he’s a “Scalia clone.”

  80. 80
    demimondian says:

    I’ve seen no evidence to support the other side at all

    Now you’re being intentionally obtuse. I was in college back then — at a school which was and is a lot more socially conservative than Princeton — and I assure you that a group like CAP at Hendrix would have made the school paper if it ever caused any waves at all.

    You’ve got a few people who had a political reason to know of CAP who are reporting that they knew of it — but that doesn’t indicate broad recognition or importance. Absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence of prominence.

  81. 81
    ppGaz says:

    I don’t know where you get that from

    Listening to him.

  82. 82
    Otto Man says:

    Clarence Thomas is not a dumb man in the slightest. I don’t know where you get that from – maybe the same place people get the idea that he’s a “Scalia clone.”

    Thomas almost never speaks from the bench, and generally seems to take his cues from Scalia. As this analysis shows, in a ten year period, in decisions where the Court wasn’t unanimous, Thomas voted with Scalia 86% of the time.

  83. 83
    Otto Man says:

    Now you’re being intentionally obtuse. I was in college back then—at a school which was and is a lot more socially conservative than Princeton—and I assure you that a group like CAP at Hendrix would have made the school paper if it ever caused any waves at all.

    No, I’m not being intentionally obtuse. If you have any actual evidence from Princeton that refutes all of these claims, I’m perfectly willing to listen. But your own college experiences and a web search of a student paper that probably doesn’t have every word from the 1970s and 1980s online, sorry, that doesn’t sway me much at all.

    I just searched the student paper’s archives for “concerned alumni of princeton” and came up with 1,634 hits. How exactly is that proof that CAP never made an appearance in the pages of the paper?

  84. 84
    Otto Man says:

    Actually, check that last point. The search engine doesn’t seem to distinguish for phrases, so that’s not accurate. Of course, it also doesn’t seem to search past 2000, which makes the whole argument about how relevant the student paper thought CAP was a moot one. It seems impossible to search for the 1970s and 1980s, despite the cute claim that you can search from 1879 on.

    Which brings us back to the people who were there. Plenty say CAP had a presence. You say it didn’t. Proof, please.

  85. 85
    ppGaz says:

    I just searched the student paper’s archives for “concerned alumni of princeton” and came up with 1,634 hits. How exactly is that proof that CAP never made an appearance in the pages of the paper?

    The search is over online content which only goes back to 1998. Therefore the question of Daily Princetonian coverage is moot unless somebody has access to pre-online material.

  86. 86
    ppGaz says:

    Plenty say CAP had a presence. You say it didn’t. Proof, please.

    Proof of “plenty”, please.

  87. 87
    Otto Man says:

    it also doesn’t seem to search past 2000, which makes the whole argument about how relevant the student paper thought CAP was a moot one.

    The search is over online content which only goes back to 1998. Therefore the question of Daily Princetonian coverage is moot

    I’m getting flashbacks of Jesse Jackson’s appearance in an SNL skit about a game show called “The Question is Moot!”

  88. 88
    Otto Man says:

    Proof of “plenty”, please.

    I’ve cited plenty on this thread and others before it. Obsidian Wings. Tom Dujack. The Daily Princetonian. The Princeton Alumni Weekly. The Nation. Etc., etc.

    If five different cites in support of one view vs. zero cites for the other isn’t proof, then nothing will be. Fine.

    I don’t think CAP is the biggest issue before Alito, but that doesn’t mean we have to roll over and accept the conservative attempt at whitewashing its history. Reminding people what 1970s movement conservatism was all about might not be a bad thing, in my opinion.

  89. 89
    ppGaz says:

    I’m getting flashbacks of Jesse Jackson’s appearance in an SNL skit

    “It is time for us to turn to each other, not on each other”

  90. 90
    ppGaz says:

    If five different cites in support of one view vs. zero cites for the other isn’t proof, then nothing will be. Fine.

    Uh, well, it certainly isn’t “proof” of anything. Whether it’s convincing or not, another question.

    A few anecdotal references, representing the state of affairs surrounding thousands of people thirty years ago … The Nation? Look, I’m a die hard liberal, and I wouldn’t cite The Nation. That’s like citing RedState.

    And besides, what is it we thing we are “proving,” or not, here? That people 30 years ago “knew about” the CAP organization? And that — somehow, by some twisted reasoning — Alito is guilty of misstating his knowledge of the group at that time?

    Even for politics, that’s a stretch.

  91. 91
    ppGaz says:

    Reminding people what 1970s movement conservatism was all about might not be a bad thing, in my opinion.

    Hmm. Well, reminding people what 1970’s movement liberalism was about might have cost us the 2004 election. So, be careful what you wish for.

  92. 92
    Otto Man says:

    Hmm. Well, reminding people what 1970’s movement liberalism was about might have cost us the 2004 election. So, be careful what you wish for.

    True. But people already remember that, as you note. If we keep that memory of liberalism intact and let the conservatives whitewash their opposition to racial and gender equity — not affirmative action, again CAP was explicitly opposed to “sex-blind admissions” at Princeton — then we’re left with an image of out-of-touch liberals and common sense conservatives. Why let them get away with that?

    Whatever. I’ve argued more about this here than I really care about it. It just seems like a matter where Alito hasn’t come clean, and he should be accountable for it. Guess I’m alone on that.

  93. 93
    ppGaz says:

    Why let them get away with that?

    Whatever. I’ve argued more about this here than I really care about it. It just seems like a matter where Alito hasn’t come clean, and he should be accountable for it. Guess I’m alone on that.

    Your point is well taken.

    My last word on the Alito thing here would be that I don’t know whether he has “come clean” or not, but that Dems should have found a better issue to go after him on. I’m afraid CAP was a loser on several levels.

    And I’m really sick of Kennedy, Biden and all those old guard Dems. How many years have those two, combined, been in Washington? A thousand?

    Anyway, you did a good job — see you around the campfire.

  94. 94
    jaime says:

    Wait a minute. Conservatives are no crying McCarthyism? The same people who take pilgrimages with Ann Coulter to McCarthy’s grave, who really think “Joe McCarthy is a great American hero” (freerepublic) are now using decrying his tactics? How incredibly disengenuous.

  95. 95
    demimondian says:

    Otto, nobody in this discussion, even me, thinks that this doesn’t smell bad. I said as much further up. It’s more a question of whether this was a sufficiently important issue to be useful against the nomination. THe answer is no.

    Now, whether it will be useful against the Republican party in the future is a different matter entirely. If there’s any meat to the accusations of involvement, it’ll dribble out in the next two or three years. If *that* happens, then Alito’s in deep, deep trouble.

    What I see right now is an attempt to recreate Anita Hill’s accusations — without the underlying substance. Contrary to what Kennedy and Bush appear to believe, politics really is about substance, too.

  96. 96
    ppGaz says:

    If there’s any meat to the accusations of involvement, it’ll dribble out in the next two or three years. If that happens, then Alito’s in deep, deep trouble.

    Are you thinking impeachment here?

    Just wondering where you were going with that.

  97. 97
    Otto Man says:

    Otto, nobody in this discussion, even me, thinks that this doesn’t smell bad. I said as much further up. It’s more a question of whether this was a sufficiently important issue to be useful against the nomination. THe answer is no.

    Well, on that, it seems we’re all agreed. I think the Dems should’ve made a coordinated attack focused on hard questions about executive power and privacy rights. Period.

    And yes, we need new blood on the SJC. I’d keep Feingold and Durbin, but give me Obama.

  98. 98

    Feingold did excellent in my own personal opinion. I truly hope he wins the Dem. nomination for ’08.

  99. 99
    Steve says:

    “The Question Is Moot” was truly a great SNL skit.

    There’s really no point in continuing the back-and-forth on this issue. It’s just like how half the people believed the Swift Boat allegations really meant something, and the other half believed it was just a ridiculous smear. No one actually ended up changing their mind on that, either, so why even bother arguing.

  100. 100
    Pooh says:

    I think the whole thing was a setup. The proper Alito answer was so simple, the only reason it makes sense for him to obfuscate was to lay a bear trap, which Kennedy blundered into – letting Graham score some sympathy points, and Stormy et al yell “Chappaquadick” (or however you spell it” for a few days. And Mrs. A. crying was either part of the plan or simply the best case scenario coming to fruition.

  101. 101
    ppGaz says:

    Pooh, you could be right. Those people are master manipulators. They will stop at nothing.

    The only good news for Dems this week is that hardly anyone was really paying any attention.

    This is all inside-the-beltway and blahsphere stuff.

  102. 102
    Skip says:

    After John exhibited his expertise on football, Dick Vermiel left the room in tears.

  103. 103
    chef says:

    I’d be a “Concerned Alumnus of Princeton” too, knowing that a jerk like Don Rumsfeld went there.

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