January 12, 2006

Don't Cry for Me Ms. Bomgardner

by PG

TIME reports that Judge Alito's wife left his confirmation hearings in tears today. The presumption of the Republicans is that she was upset by Democratic senators' questions that focused on Alito's record on race and gender, which led to Sen. Lindsey Graham's asking, "Are you really a closet bigot?" and Alito's replying that he is "not any kind of a bigot." A good answer, as I would have thought that in examining Alito's membership in an alumni group, job applications, written opinions and votes as a judge, any bigotry thus revealed could hardly be called "closet." If the senators were investigating whether Alito discriminates on the basis of race or gender in the privacy of his own bedroom, for example, that might be considered a determination of "closet" bigotry. Especially if they failed to find Alito to have been biased on the basis of sex, that would be good reason for his wife to be upset.

Graham continued, "Guilt by association is going to drive good men and women away from wanting to sit where you're sitting." This is an assertion that worries me. Not that I ever expect to be sitting before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but just in case, perhaps I should review my past associations. I graduated from a high school that was still under a desegregation court order during my attendance, and was in the sex-discriminatory National Honor Society. Shortly after my graduation, the father of one of my schoolmates was killed in a hate crime that some considered an indictment of the area in which I grew up. I attended a university founded by a slaveholder, built by slaves and that purchased slaves, which continues to have race-related problems. I worked for an African American-owned company before law school, but the top executives were all male, and I also was employed by a company that perpetuates reliance on discriminatory standardized exams. At law school, I joined the Federalist Society, which pretty much ends the discussion.

FUN FACTS: The Concerned Alumni of Princeton were early adopters of the complaints now widespread among conservatives, such as that too few faculty members voted for Nixon. Also, CAP seems to have been unamused by the school's band. The students' reaction (scroll to bottom of this; halfway down this) makes me nostalgic for UVA's pep band, now mostly a memory thanks to our own hidebound alumni and the easily-offended governor of West Virginia.

January 12, 2006 02:47 PM | TrackBack

A slight point of clarification. Before the Band did their parody, a lot of people at Princeton back then ridiculed the Concerned Alumni of Princeton by calling them the "Concerned Reactionary Alumni of Princeton" which forms a different acronym from CAP.

I was there. I remember. And if you don't believe that CAP was important for networking, you're naive. These are the people who went to Princeton and claimed, it's not what you know, it's who [sic] you know.

Jeff Richards
Princeton A.B., '74, A.M. '77, Ph.D., '78

Posted by: Jeff Richards at January 13, 2006 01:25 PM

The only thing Alito's wife had to cry about that day was the outfit she was wearing.

Posted by: NB at January 15, 2006 05:20 PM

[rolls eyes] Yes, because a matronly suit is more cause for upset than the questioning of a spouse's character. I can't imagine crying at a confirmation hearing myself, but if I were going to I'd hope it would be for something deeper than fashion.

Posted by: PG at January 15, 2006 09:51 PM

Has anyone considered the thought that the "crying eyes" of the spouse were intended to build sympathy for the nominee?

This is ridiculous. She (or he, in under the circumstances) might wail away, but, so what? Literally, so what? Let's get something understood. As far as I'm concerned the advice and consent is not for the benefit of the spouse. It is for the benefit of the american people.

If the spouse wants to run away from the hearings crying, let her.

Posted by: raj at January 17, 2006 11:08 AM

I take the intermediate view. I don't think Ms. Bomgardner calculatedly began weeping to increase sympathy, because it would have been more sensible for her to do it while one of the Democrats was speaking, instead of when a Republican was.
On the other hand, I agree that her emotional sensitivity is irrelevant to the the hearings; that she found some questions and comments upseting is not a prima facie indictment of them.

Posted by: PG at January 17, 2006 04:44 PM
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