Russert's Regret: "Would Have Been Helpful to Have More Ammunition" -- and Who Is Liu?

Discussing the Alito hearings on this morning's Today show, Matt Lauer and Tim Russert sounded less like host and analyst and more like two disappointed teenaged boys, griping as they exit the theater that the movie didn't deliver enough exploding cars and train wrecks.

Lauer's opening question sounded the theatrical theme: "did the event live up to its billing?"

Russert panned the paucity of pyrotechnics: "It sure didn't, Matt. People talked about a confrontation. It certainly wasn't that. It started off with a bang and ended with a whimper."

But to the extent things did get nasty, who was responsible? Lauer slyly suggested that it was . . . Alito's own fault.

Lauer: "As he started to frustrate Democrats, Tim, it appeared to me that they then moved into more personal issues like that alumni group at Princeton and his failure to recuse himself from a case involving a company with which he had investments."

Darn you, Sam; don't you see that your intransigence forced those Democrat pussycats to attack you? Matt stopped just short of claiming that the Devil made Teddy do it. Lauer then asked Russert whether the personal attacks were "the wrong direction for Democrats to go."

That's when Russert lamented the Dems' lack of the materiel of political warfare:

"It would've been helpful if there had been more ammunition. If there in fact had been something there they could directly link Judge Alito to."

We feel your pain, Tim.

In the set-up segment, Pete Williams noted the unprecedented move in which a bi-partisan panel of current and former judicial colleagues testified in support of Alito. He ran a clip of black former federal judge Timothy Lewis saying he wouldn't be sitting there if he thought Alito "might be hostile to civil rights."

On the other side, we were treated to footage of law professor Goodwin Liu claiming that an analysis of Alito's judicial decisions "shows a clear anti-civil rights pattern."

Which raises the question, who is Liu?

As can be seen from his official faculty bio, Liu is a professor at Berkeley, a former law clerk to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and a project director at something called the "Earl Warren Institute for Race, Ethnicity, and Diversity." His main current interest is using the 14th amendment to federalize education. Oh, and just for good measure, in 2003 Liu co-authored a Georgetown Law Journal article with . . . Hillary Rodham Clinton.

So, bi-partisan panel of judges vs. professional Democrat who wants to reinterpret the Constitution to vastly expand the scope of the federal government. You be the judge.

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.