Anybody who follows the New York Times editorial page knows they have been heading for a nervous breakdown, but last week it finally happened.
In issuing yet another call to arms for Senators to stand up and oppose Judge Alito through a filibuster, the Times began its editorial, "Judge Alito's Radical Views," like this:
If Judge Samuel Alito, Jr.'s confirmation hearings lacked drama, apart from his wife's bizarrely over-covered crying jag, it is because they confirm the obvious. Judge Alito is exactly the kind of legal thinker President Bush wants on the Supreme Court.
When someone with a bad temper is losing an argument, there's always a point when things turn ugly -- the point in domestic arguments, for example, when you start bringing in-laws into the debate. This was it.
"Crying jag?" Is the Times suggesting that Rose Alito's inability to stomach Teddy Kennedy's scurrilous pomposity was staged? The ugliness of this remark is overshadowed only by its hypocrisy. Democrats do nothing but play to raw emotions these days, shrieking that we are being "spied upon" when intelligence services eavesdrop on al Qaeda phone calls, clamoring that abortion is the only important issue facing the nation's judiciary -- and then of course there's Hillary Clinton's little "plantation" remark. But when they're confronted with a real human being expressing understandable human emotion, all they can do is sneer.
But don't worry. Someone is listening. John Kerry, who like many a poor politician hasn't noticed the Times' recent swerve into irrationality (think Maureen Dowd), has saddled his horse and come galloping back from Davos to do battle with the latest windmill the Times has designated. All last week the Times was demanding some Senator stand up and lead a filibuster. Sir John of Davos has responded. There will be no more comic moment in this era than the image of knight-errand Kerry arriving on the Senate floor, the snows of the Alps still fresh on his boots, ready to lead the charge against Judge Alito, only to find that the Senate Democratic leadership has already resigned itself to the inevitable and several key Senators have switched sides. Monty Python would be proud.
It is amazing how, amidst all the brouhaha created by liberal hysteria, real news gets lost. Last week all the New York papers ran a little squib about a trial going on in Brooklyn right now. Shahawar Matin Siraj, a 23-year-old Pakistani, is on trial for plotting to bomb the 34th Street subway station beneath Madison Square Garden during the Republican Convention last August. The story, of course, was about Siraj asserting his constitutional rights.
Siraj and an accomplice, James el Shafay, were arrested three days before the convention began, carrying maps of the subway system and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. After waiving their Miranda rights, they were questioned by a pair of prosecutors, an FBI agent, and two police detectives. Siraj gave an oral confession and signed a three-page statement.
Now Siraj has an attorney and is arguing that when he was told he would be interviewed by a "prosecutor," he thought that meant he was talking to his own attorney. "I never heard the word 'prosecutor' before," he told the court. Siraj's current attorney, Martin Stolar, is trying to have the confession suppressed on the grounds that Siraj's failure to understand constituted a violation of his rights.
The ruling on the confession won't be made until this week, but it is interesting to note how this case has largely escaped the attention of the press. Siraj and Shafay met Osama Doaudi in an Islamic bookstore in Brooklyn. They hooked up and spent several months planning attacks on various New York landmarks and public places. But Doaudi was also a federal informer. He carried a video camera and was actually able to make several tapes of the group scouting locations, under the pretense that they were conducting surveillance operations. They were going to carry their bombs onto the subway in backpacks. All this happened before the London attacks.
The remarkable question is, why hasn't this case received more publicity? There were a few first-day stories but they were more or less buried by the convention. Not a single newspaper in the country has bothered to do a background story on the case.
Liberals are operating under the assumption that we are good people and therefore immune from attack. Something good will happen to prevent it. Eavesdropping, dogged police work, paid informers -- they're all just underhanded techniques that threaten our civil liberties. It's like Secretary of State Henry Stimson closing down the State Department's cryptanalytic office in 1929, saying, "Gentlemen don't read each other's mail."
Only good intelligence work and extraordinary luck have helped us to avoid another London or Madrid. Yet you don't read anything about that in the papers. It is amazing how, in such perilous times, the liberal press can find so many inconsequential things to worry about while overlooking so many obvious dangers.