Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The mob, New Jersey and Sam Alito

Hugh Hewitt has banished Harriet Miers to the bottom of his toy chest (just under his lincoln logs) and writes regarding his shiny new Alito that he is "astonished that Democrats and the lefty groups are already on the attack against the son of an immigrant and a public school teacher," and warned: "the left would do well to respect and not diminish [his heritage] in their rush to slime Judge Alito."

Jonah Goldberg wept into his box of Krispy Kremes and muttered something about not "alienat[ing] Italian-Americans up and down the east coast."

What is it that has this crew just, really, so shocked and upset?

Well, apparently there's a list of Democratic talking points that includes this blurb:

Alito Embarrassed Government by Failing to Obtain Crucial Mafia Conviction

U.S. Attorney Alito Failed to Obtain Conviction of 20 Mobsters, Saying “You Can’t Win Them All.” Federal law enforcement agencies sustained a major rebuff in their anti-mafia campaign with the August 1988 acquittal of all 20 defendants accused of making up the entire membership of the Lucchese family in the New Jersey suburbs of New York. The verdict ended what was believed to be the nation’s longest federal criminal trial and according to the Chicago Tribune, dealt the government a “stunning defeat.” Samuel Alito, the US Attorney on the case, said, “Obviously we are disappointed but you realize you can’t win them all.” Alito also said he had no regrets about the prosecution but in the future would try to keep cases “as short and simple as possible.” Alito continued, “I certainly don’t feel embarrassed and I don’t think we should feel embarrassed.” [Guardian, 8/29/88; Chicago Tribune, 8/27/88; UPI, 8/26/88]

Well, let me tell you something. That case was a huge embarrassment for the U.S. Attorney's office. The case, documented in Robert Rudolph's excellent "The Boys From New Jersey" somehow left jurors so confused and angry that they voted for acquittal. But let's be clear about something: This was not Alito's case. He basically inherited the office after the trial had commenced. His quotes, which you can read here in an excerpt from the book, are unfortunate, though. So, yeah, Democrats launched an unfair attack on Alito -- not for whether he was a mafia-coddling U.S. Attorney -- but over whether he was an inept U.S. Attorney.

And turning the trial into a crocodile tear-stained case of identity politics may be a fun stunt for cynics, but here, in New Jersey, we know a disaster when we see it.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 4:36 PM

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