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John Kerry's Last Stand: The Alito Filibuster Backstory

john kerry.jpg

Last week, when Senator John F. Kerry issued a vocal call for a filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito, Jr. -- going so far as to blog about it -- many Democrats and Republicans had the same reaction: "What the hell is he thinking?" The fact that Senator Kerry issued this clarion call to arms from Switzerland, of all places, didn't exactly help. As White House press secretary Scott McClellan put it, "Even for a senator, it takes some pretty serious yodeling to call for a filibuster from a five-star ski resort in the Swiss Alps." As the New York Times aptly summarized matters, "Democrats cringed and Republicans jeered at the awkwardness of his gesture, which almost no one in the Senate expects to succeed."


After the Alito cloture vote this afternoon, this will all be nothing more than an embarrassing memory. But, since we had nothing better to do with our weekend, we did some poking around into what might have been running through John Kerry's elongated head.

The rumor going around in Judiciary Committee circles late last week was that Senator Kerry's decision to filibuster was staff-driven. Speculation focused in one staff member in particular: Mirah Horowitz, one of Kerry's chief legal advisors. Horowitz is a liberal lawyer and blonde braniac who previously clerked for Justice Stephen Breyer, before joining a decidedly less successful enterprise -- the Kerry presidential campaign.

Was there any truth to this rumor of Mirah Horowitz exercising excessive influence over John Kerry? Details after the jump.

mirah horowitz.jpgFirst things first: What does this Mirah Horowitz character look like? We've helpfully supplied a picture of her, so you can judge for yourself. She strikes us as the blonde version of the Washingtonienne, Jessica Cutler (but with a Supreme Court clerkship, and without that whole anal-sex-for-cash business).

And how accurate was this rumor of Mirah Horowitz as Lady Macbeth, inciting John Kerry to filibuster by stoking his 2008 ambitions? As you might imagine, this dramatic scenario got us quite excited here at Wonkette. It's been a long time since an attractive young woman altered the course of political history!

Alas, as is so often the case, reality is less than exciting than rumor. Sources in the Kerry camp report that although Horowitz does play a major role in advising Senator Kerry on matters pertaining to the judiciary, including drafting and reviewing many of his SCOTUS-related speeches, the decision to charge the Alito windmill was Kerry's own. In fact, it was less staff-driven than most of his decisions, since Kerry was away from Washington when he made it. It was far more influenced by overseas telephone conversations he had with fellow Democratic senators, most notably, Senator Ted Kennedy (who also, by the way, receives occasional advice from Horowitz on judicial matters).

In the end, learning that the Alito filibuster was John Kerry's brilliant idea really isn't that surprising to us. It reflects the same shrewd political judgment and unerring strategic insight that Senator Kerry displayed in running his 2004 presidential campaign.

Okay, so maybe Mirah Horowitz can't singlehandedly cause a senator to filibuster a SCOTUS nominee. But we hear she can do something that, to ex-New Yorkers like ourselves, is equally Mirah-culous. She can get you tickets to Spamalot! (Her father, Dr. Lawrence Horowitz, is a producer of the show.)

Filibuster Alito [Daily Kos]

Kerry Defends Senate Filibuster on Alito as 'a Vote of History' [Washington Post]

Kerry Gets Cool Response to Call to Filibuster Alito [New York Times]

Earlier: The Dems vs. Alito: Let's Hold Hands and Jump
Kerry Takes Action... Kinda

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