But for the seriousness of the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, it would be comical to observe the cries of extremism against Alito from those who argue that he would support President Bush in establishing a near monarchy.
Liberal editorialists and politicians have seized on Alito's alleged expansive view of executive power to oppose his nomination. According to them, Alito would enable the president in his nefarious schemes to torture enemy combatants (and probably domestic liberals) and to incarcerate them indefinitely, and to permit the government unchecked power to spy on American citizens.
How wonderfully serendipitous, given the current flap over the president's warrantless electronic intercepts of Al Qaeda phone calls, that the president's pick happens to have a paper trail revealing his "dangerous" notions about presidential authority. Why, in the words of columnist Robert Kuttner, "[Alito] would give Bush effective control of all three branches of government and the hard-right long-term dominance of the high court."
Setting aside the left's disturbing tendency to sympathize with everything Al Qaeda these days, don't be fooled by all this noise about runaway presidential powers. They only object to executive largesse when they don't control the presidency, which, with any luck, will remain the case for years to come.
Their real concern -- and please excuse me for stating the obvious -- is over abortion rights. If Alito is confirmed, it is actually conceivable the Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade and return the issue of the legality of abortion back to the states.
Liberals -- you know, the people now complaining about imperialistic presidential authority -- are horrified at the idea that the Court might poke a hole in their glorious precedent establishing a federal constitutional right to abortion.
You see, it is not unchecked governmental power they're worried about or encroachments on democratic rights -- otherwise they, too, would be outraged at the Supreme Court's disenfranchisement of the states and people on issues like abortion. No, it's not a matter of how much power any particular branch of government has, but whether it will use that power to impose a liberal worldview.
Unless a president is willing to govern like a liberal on most issues, he is a conservative extremist. Unless the Court will continue to usurp the states' and peoples' rights and mandate such things as the nationwide legality of abortion and a strict separation of the Christian religion from government, it is a tool of the reactionary right wing.