Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I share Sam Rosenfeld's Alito fatalism -- especially after seeing the results of yesterday's Washington Post poll, which said that a majority of Americans favor the nomination and an even bigger majority believe Alito won't vote to overturn Roe.

This is when I ask: What would Republicans have done in this situation if they were Democrats? Here's what I think they would have done: Particularly after the release of Alito's 1985 letter denying that the Constitution protects abortion, they'd have deployed several members of the party to go out and say, point blank, "Alito, if he's confirmed, will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade" -- "will vote to overturn," with no ambiguity. It would have simple, it would have been easily digested by the TV-viewing public -- and it would have been denounced as over the line by Alito's defenders. Thus, it would have been news, and it could have framed the debate, because the public doesn't want Roe overturned.

This would have worked only if the party refused to back down. Alito's supporters would have tried to make the bluntness of the statement into the issue. This is where discipline would have come in: The statement shouldn't have been made by top leaders of the party, but those leaders should have refused to distance themselves from it; they should have defended the honor and integrity of whoever had made the remarks. And, after the first wave of criticism, yet more Democrats should have said the same thing. Alito's own words, plus a list of the groups and individuals praising him, would be enough to make the statement highly plausible.

Do something bold so what you're doing leaps to the top of the nightly newscast; strike first; keep it simple; stand your ground after taking your shot; declare that the opposition is not just wrong, but the enemy of reasonable Americans -- that's what Republicans do. And it works.

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