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We had a chance after meeting with Senator Hatch to talk with three former Alito clerks and get their reactions to the attacks on their former boss. Jeff Gottlieb, a Democrat, thinks that the attacks have been effectively defused. When asked if the attacks were fair, Gottlieb says, "Probably not, no."
Reg Brown, a former White House staffer, says the attacks may wind up working to Alito's benefit. "Now, there's an air or presumption of untruth [to attack reports]," due to the wild nature of what they're alleging. Michael Park, another Alito clerk, says that the thin nature of these issues show that Alito can't be challenged on his qualifications, job performance, and judicial temperament.
Brown: "When Bork was nominated, they attacked Robert Bork's America," he notes, but now they can't attack conservatism itself as before.
Jeff Lord, author of The Borking Revolution: "We know now how this works: the ethics charges, followed by the race charges."
Abigail Thermstrom notes that the President learned to never nominate another Robert Bork. "Robert Bork did his best to get defeated," she says, contrasting him with Clarence Thomas, who never invited the treatment he received.
Dana Douglas: "He was a fabulous mentor ... a great experience ... he was very open to mentoring women and minorities. ... It was one of the greatest experiences in my life."
When asked whether they'd like to get nominated for the Court sometime in their profession, they all thought that being a judge would be great, but the process of becoming a judge would certainly give them pause. Isn't that a shame -- we're spending our time pillorying the best of the people we have. What kind of people will we eventually find left to take these jobs when they come up?
Dana Douglas worries that the real Sam Alito may not come through. "He should smile more," Douglas advises. "He's really a very nice man."
UPDATE: Reg Brown dropped me a nice note reminding me that he is a former White House staffer -- actually, as I recall (without prompting), he's a former Assistant Counsel, more senior than the generic "staffer" might suggest. And, by the way, a great guy to meet!Sphere It View blog reactions
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