January 10, 2006


There are only a fixed number of chords that you can play on a guitar. Everybody gets the same chords but some people sell millions and others clear a room the moment they open the case. The difference: execution. Alito has same goals and same audience that Roberts did in his quest for the fancy black robes. He's playing the same chords: joke, odes to the law, duck the hard stuff about Roe v. Wade. He just can't play as well. He's not as funny as Roberts. Not as graceful. I joked a lot about Roberts being boring. Roberts was boring on paper. In person he turned out to be rather winning. Alito is boring in person. Dahlia Lithwick is, as always, the best read on all things Supreme:

It doesn't help, either, that his (Alito's) facial expression throughout the afternoon is one of ferocious, determined impassivity. Unlike Roberts, who'd mastered the boyish "I'm listening" head tilt or the impish "Hey, you're funny!" acknowledgment of every senatorial joke, Alito keeps his eyes fixed somewhere on the middle distance; like while all this is happening around him, he is really very busy recalling a rather violent segment about mating lemurs on Animal Planet.

This might make a difference on the margins. Roberts managed to charm a few Dems into voting for him. Alito won't be winning anybody over this way.

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