The growing Supreme Court buzz around Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. is reaching highly suspect, Clement-ine proportions. Is the White House trying to fake us out using the same strategy that it previously employed? Article III Groupie is reminded of the old saying that President Bush once horribly mangled: "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."*
Perhaps because of this feeling of déjà vu, A3G's theory that Samuel Alito is playing "Edith Brown Clement" to the "John Roberts" of Judge J. Michael Luttig is gaining traction. Over at the Washington Post's excellent Campaign for the Court blog, Fred Barbash provides this helpful round-up of the Alito buzz in the morning newspapers -- which he dubs "the Edith Brown Clement Memorial Sweepstakes."
The similarities to the Clement situation are striking. Speculation about Judge Clement's supposed absence from chambers on the day of President Bush's nomination announcement -- Clement was rumored to be on vacation** -- fueled the rumor that she was going to be the nominee. Similarly, the Alito buzz is being fed by his own absence from chambers (and presence in D.C.), as reported in today's Washington Post:
Adding to the speculation were reports by those close to the process that Alito arrived in Washington Thursday night. Asked why the judge came to town and whether he was in chambers yesterday, Alito's clerk laughed and said he would have to take a message. The White House, meanwhile, declined to comment.
To all the liberal interest groups and left-wing bloggers, A3G says: Don't be fooled; don't take the bait. Sic your attack dogs on Luttig -- he's your man. Even though Alito would be a great SCOTUS pick, he is a mere decoy.
Update: There is a long and provocative reader comment appended to this post, which appears to be based on these rumors about Judge Luttig (first reported at TalkLeft, as far as A3G knows; scroll down to the bottom of the page).
* President Bush said, "Fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again."
** This rumor was incorrect, according to this reader comment, as well as this Washington Post article (which places Judge Clement in New Orleans on that day). A3G read about Judge Clement's supposedly being on vacation here (see update #2).