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January 09, 2006

Unlikable Alito

Unlike John Roberts, this guy is not likable at all.  I've seen Alito in several multi-minute clips on both CBS and the NewsHour this evening and he is not someone you'd want to have a beer with.  He's pinched-looking and seems like someone who just hasn't been open to learning much in his life or interacting with people different from him. I'm not even sure he would know how to use chopsticks.

That he's not likable is going to allow us some room. It's like watching Tom DeLay.  He just seems mean and the more people see him on TV, the more they don't like him.

What he says brings up the sharp divide in our generation. I graduated from the University of Washington in 1970 two years ahead of Sam Alito's graduation from Princeton.  What really tipped me to the guy, besides his non-verbals, was what he said was when he talked about the people I hung out with in college and afterwards. He said he went 12 miles down the road from where he'd grown up and this is what he saw:

It was a time of turmoil at colleges and universities. And I saw some very smart people and very privileged people behaving irresponsibly. And I couldn't help making a contrast between some of the worst of what I saw on the campus and the good sense and the decency of the people back in my own community.

Well, I was on campus during that time and I was amongst those people he distains who were "behaving irresponsibly" according to Alito.  I certainly was not priviledged, putting myself through school instead.  I'm not proud of every single thing I did during those years but I learned so much and I began to see how important it was to understand what was going on for people different from me and I learned to stand up for ideas.  I learned about how important it was for me to see myself as an independent woman.  I listened to black people talk, sometimes with great dignity, sometimes great anger about their lives.  I marched against the war.  I helped shut down the University for a few days (or was it weeks, I can't remember) because we thought people should know we didn't think it could be 'life as usual'.

And in the last 15 years or so as people my age came onto the national stage, I realized that I didn't trust the people my age who hadn't really participated in the intellectual and emotional atmosphere of that time.  I first noticed this with Dan Qualye.  He was just such a light-weight.  He clearly hadn't grappled with the ideas most of our cohort dealt with.  Then came Clinton.  I loved that he had talked into the night about racism and sexism.  I loved that he was in the audience once when Germaine Greer spoke and that he stood up and engaged her and flirted with her no less.  I liked that he married a strong woman who clearly had ideas of her own.  That openness that Clinton had to other people and new ideas was evident in everything he did.  Certainly he had flaws and I am still angry that he was so reckless with our trust.

But I would take someone like Clinton who was willing and eagar to grapple with life in more of it's fullness over someone like Bush, the worst of the bratty, rich anti-intellectuals who would never have to live by his wits since there was always someone there to bail him out. 

Alito is not that but he is in the same camp.  For whatever reason, he has simply chosen not to look at the world from other people's points of view and it shows in his opinions and in his face.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on January 9, 2006 at 07:20 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink


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John Roberts was likable!?

Posted by: John J | Jan 9, 2006 11:44:39 PM

I thought the same thing this morning as I watched Biden half-heartedly grill him on his Princeton affiliations that he can no longer remember...he sounds like he's weaseling. Roberts surely WAS weaseling, but as he spoke, his words came out comfortably and naturally, and his even tone suggested that he didn't perceive any controversy inherent in what he was saying. You can hear the wheels turning in Alito's head, which essentially makes him look shifty and calculating.

Posted by: torridjoe | Jan 10, 2006 2:27:26 PM

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Disclaimers out of the way: yes, that's a childish way to cheapen the process of filling a seat on the United States Supreme Court. Certainly as a sitting judge and by all accounts a learned jurist, Samuel Alito commands respect for his legal expertise... [Read More]

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