During the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois asked him, “You’re a Bruce Springsteen fan?” An odd question, to which Alito replied tepidly, “I am to some degree, yes.”
Durbin had a point to make: “I guess most people in New Jersey would be.” If not, he opined, “they should be.” That’s far from clear, but let’s take the senator at his word.
When Durbin announced he’d vote against confirming Alito, he returned to his earlier theme. “Judge Alito, a New Jersey native, wouldn’t even say whether he was a Bruce Springsteen fan,” the senator chided. “Now, he may be one of the few people from New Jersey who has such cautious fealty to The Boss.”
Or, maybe not.
“Personally, for the last 25 years I have always stayed one step away from partisan politics,” Springsteen wrote in The New York Times in 2004. That’s a good policy for an entertainer. But that year, apparently, was special. The Boss leapt into politics with both feet, campaigning hard for John Kerry.
It’s understandable that Alito, a lifelong conservative, would oppose Springsteen’s liberal ardor. He was simply too polite to make a big deal out of that during hearings meant to focus on his qualifications to sit on the nation’s highest court.
The joke here is on Durbin, in more ways than one. It’s not merely funny that he claimed to oppose Alito because of the judge’s taste in music. It’s funny that he even thought he had to explain his opposition to Alito.
After all, Durbin is a liberal leader of his party’s Senate contingent. It was clear from the get-go he would vote against Alito, a conservative nominated by a president from the opposing party. And that’s the real problem with politics today. It’s predictable and, in many ways, pointless. The goal isn’t to get things done; it’s to attack members of the other party.
As another example, consider the embarrassing story on the front page of the May 17 Washington Post. During a trip to Saudi Arabia, Bush pleaded with the Saudis to pump more crude. And they said no. “Not only did the Saudis resist efforts to boost production even more -- as many congressional leaders are demanding -- they also pointedly said that the extra output was a week-old response to commercial customers, not to the president,” the paper wrote.
Well, that certainly puts us in our place. We’re begging the Saudis to take MORE of our dollars, and they’re refusing.