In his opening statement, Sen. Leahy intoned ominously about an “extreme faction,” a “narrow faction” a “small faction,” and a “partisan faction” that deprived them of Harriet Miers. His sour grapes set the tone for others in the “solid, immovable un-persuadable bloc” (Sen. Cornyn’s phrase for Senators who have their “no” votes decided). Speaking of repetition, my notes show that Leahy, Kennedy, Biden, Schumer, and Durbin all used the expression “blank check” at least once in their opening statements. This level of coordination suggests they plan to hammer a handful of themes rather than attempt death by a thousands cuts.
It may not go well for them. Schumer, Durbin and company had the look of the doomed by the time Alito gave his folksy opening statement. They sensed that his earnest demeanor and corny jokes make him a genuinely likeable and sympathetic person. This, of course, will cast their vicious assault on his character into sharper relief. The special interests demand stridency, but when stridency becomes the issue, non-kook voters will take notice.