Jewish World Review Nov. 1, 2005/ 29 Tishrei 5766

Wesley Pruden

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The left gets what it asked for | LOS ANGELES — California is as far from the reality where the rest of us live as you can get and still keep your feet dry. Californians think Geena Davis, the star of the new television fantasy "Commander in Chief," really is the commander in chief.

So when the ground shifted yesterday with the nomination of Samuel Alito to the United States Supreme Court — a solid 7 on the Richter scale — nearly everyone here wondered why that nice, sensible President Davis would have done something like that.

But even here attention shifted from the headaches of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to the looming Armageddon on the distant other shore. The Terminator's four ballot initiatives to make California more governable are by all accounts becalmed in a sea of indifference, anyway.

The early action in Washington is media skirmishing, as the players jostle and jiggle for position against the day when it will be time to lock and load. The high priests of secularism are desperate to protect the rite of abortion, which is to the noisily devout of the left what the doctrine of the Virgin Birth is to orthodox Christianity.

Hysteria and hyperbole are the reigning emotions of the holy high rollers. "Abortion will be the first item Judge Alito and I will discuss," says Sen. Arlen Specter, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who never misses a chance to shoot at his friends. Kate Michelman, the past president of NARAL-Pro-Choice America, detected something shiny and significant at her feet, and to her chagrin, it was not a suction pump. "Now the gauntlet has been, I think, thrown down." Barbara Boxer, the senator from California who knows something about appeasing red-hots on her flanks, says, "This nomination is aimed at appeasing the most right-wing elements of the president's political base." Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, eager to provoke, calls the nomination a "needless provocation." Teddy Kennedy, the Massachusetts answer to the prayer of every young woman in distress, describes Samuel Alito as a risk to fundamental American freedoms. (Impeachment to follow?)

The curious Democratic reaction to the nomination of Harriet Miers is rendered transparent by the nomination of Judge Alito. The nice things Democratic senators said about her, which stank of mendacity to anyone trying to get a deep breath at the time, were calculated as harmless enough because the Democrats were confident the conservatives would force the president to withdraw a nominee no one wanted. They're continuing to say harmless and insincere nice things about her to demonstrate what reasonable, mellow fellows they were.

The usual echoes in the media are contributing the bass (and base) notes to the angry chorus. John Roberts, the CBS correspondent who once imagined himself big enough to fill Dan Rather's BVDs, couldn't get his mind out of his pants yesterday and used a vulgar sexual allusion to demand of the president's press spokesman whether the choice of Judge Alito was merely the president trying to find satisfaction with "sloppy seconds." Ron Fournier rose to the defense of Miss Miers in an Associated Press dispatch, chiding Republicans for demanding that Judge Alito "get a vote in the Senate — something they denied [Miss] Miers."

The first volley at Samuel Alito is that he dissented when his colleagues of the 3rd Circuit declined to evict the nannies of Planned Parenthood from the bedrooms of strangers, ruling that a wife doesn't have to tell her husband when she aborts their child. A generation ago, cries that the Democratic Party had become the party of "abortion, acid and amnesty" sank George McGovern and set up decades of Republican dominance. Acid and amnesty are but dim echoes of that vanished era, but "abortion" is the rallying cry that unites what's left of the party of FDR, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy.

It doesn't work. The Democrats tried to cast the '04 presidential campaign as a referendum on "abortion rights," and now we see how risky such a strategy can be. John Kerry, like Al Gore before him, warned that if George W. Bush was elected, he would appoint conservative men and women to the Supreme Court. How right they were. The Democrats got a president, but only in Hollywood and only for an hour once a week.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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