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Democratic “Strategist” Michael Brown Plays Right Into The Republican Game Plan For Alito Confirmation. With Democracy In Danger, The Democrats Dither.

Reported by Ellen - January 14, 2006

Once again, the Republicans on Hannity & Colmes tried to make the Alito confirmation hearings all about the Democrats. Thanks to Democratic “Strategist” Michael Brown they largely succeeded Friday night (1/13/06). Brown is another one of those nice, likeable FOX News Democrats whose major strategy seems to be to flatter Republicans and make them look good. At no time did Brown seem to be at all concerned that the Senate might be on the verge of confirming a Supreme Court judge likely to move the court significantly to the right and toward greater executive-branch power.

In fact, Brown showed almost no interest in nor knowledge of either Judge Samuel Alito’s judicial philosophy or the answers he provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee. That task was left to Alan Colmes. Colmes did a good job but he should have had back-up.

Colmes started by raising the issue of presidential power and Bush’s illegal wiretaps of Americans. He played a clip of Alito evading the questions by saying, “I think it would be irresponsible for me to say anything on the substance of the question here.” Colmes called Alito’s response “indicative” and said he had never been pinned down by the Senate.

It was a perfect opening for Brown to talk about Alito trying to evade a very troubling record but instead Brown talked about how well-rehearsed Alito was. Then Brown said, “No one’s questioning anything about his credentials. I mean, clearly the justice has all the credentials in the world to be a Supreme Court justice. The question is, where’s he going to come down on a lot of these very important social issues?” Comment: Alito has a long paper trail, there has been a lot written about it, yet Michael Brown either didn’t know enough about it or else he didn’t want to take a stand and give the viewers a taste of what Alito is really all about.

When it was Rich Lowry’s turn, he pressed the “meanie Democrat” issue that the GOP has been harping on all week even further. “Don’t you think if you badger a nominee so badly that eventually his wife breaks down in tears and leaves the room, isn’t that a sign that MAYBE you’ve gone a little bit too far?”

Brown could have answered the question quickly and moved on to Alito’s record, which ought to have been the focus, but instead he gave exactly the kind of answer Lowry must have been looking for, short of an outright endorsement of Alito and a condemnation of Senate Democrats: First agreeing how contentious the confirmation process has become, Brown then said, “I think we have to figure out how to make this a little better but for Democrats, these are the consequences when you lose elections. The president gets to control who goes on the Supreme Court.”

Say what? If this Michael Brown wasn’t African American, I’d suspect he was the former head of FEMA with the same name doing another heckuva job.

Lowry turned to the other guest, Michael Reagan, and said that Democrats had gone “beyond the pale and that’s why (they) look so bad in these hearings.”

Reagan didn’t waste a breath on diplomacy and jumped right on the Democrat-bashing bandwagon. “(They) have to pander to their constituents. You got to understand this, Rich. They’ve lost the House, they’ve lost the Senate, they’ve lost the White House. The last place the Democrats have is the judiciary. And so they’re willing to fight tooth and nail, lie if necessary, make innuendos if necessary, to try and besmirch somebody… which causes a wife to leave the room in tears. It is outrageous what’s going on. The Republicans do not treat nominees the same way.”

That got Brown mad enough to interrupt and say, “They certainly do,” as if that had anything to do with Alito.

Lowry claimed that an article Kennedy used in his questioning was a satire. “Ted Kennedy is a satire,” Michael Reagan said, proving just how gracious and respectful Republicans really are. No comment from Brown.

After a break, Lowry tried to discuss with Brown the substance of Alito’s record by bringing up the case in which Alito found it permissable to strip search a child for drugs without a warrant. Conveniently overlooking the warrantless aspect, Lowry asked, “Is this a new liberal principle, that drug dealers should be able to hide drugs on their children with impunity and never having to worry about them being searched?”

Brown once again blew the opportunity to discuss some of the troubling aspects of Alito’s record and gave a non sequitur of an answer. “I don’t remember the stats that you guys brought up about how many questions there were over the last several days and how many words were in each question.” It was Alan Colmes who later clarified that the issue was the propriety of a WARRANTLESS search of a 10 year-old girl and that Alito had been overruled on that decision.

Colmes also cited a new FOX News poll that asked who do you trust more to deal with the issues facing the country. 40% said Democrats, 26% said Republicans. “So, it seems that people may be thinking twice about the fact that we have Republicans in charge of all branches of government.”

Reagan claimed, “At the same time, the economy could not be better. That’s what going on. Jobless rate is the best it’s ever been. Everything is good with the economy. Everything is good with America. You know something? That’s what people want to hear. That’s what we keep telling ‘em.”

Time was running out. Brown could have added something about the poll numbers not backing up Reagan’s claim or he could have asked why, in such a “couldn’t be better” economy, the gap between rich and poor has grown, why the number of people without health insurance has increased, etc. But the only comment Brown cared to get in was, “Go Skins! Go Skins!”

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