Alito is nothing if not careful and considered in his answers, often indicating that more specifics are needed before some fanciful and hypothetical trick question can be properly entertained. If the cabal of left-wing Senators is to stop Alito without a filibuster, it must pressure him into a rash answer. Their tactics show they aren’t up to the task.
Leahy tried to fluster Alito by repeatedly asking hypothetical questions, being condescending (“Let’s make an easy one…”), and interrupting him, all to no effect. Kennedy interrupted early and often, sometimes after only a few seconds. He settled down for a while, but his fifth interruption (out of seven) finally drew a rebuke from Specter: “Let him finish, Senator Kennedy.”
For all their zeal to trip up Alito, the Senators’ even greater ardor for the camera keeps sending them off into long – and in the case of Kennedy, rambling – interludes of speechifying. This limits the number of questions, which in turn limits the likelihood of a tired nominee blundering. As with hockey, where fewer shots mean fewer goals, waiting for the perfect shot at Alito is a losing strategy.