As usual, Barone knows of what he speaks. Seriously, look at my first reaction. I'm not a fan of identity politics, but first thing I did was check to see if Alito was Italian. Italian Americans do not have the best reputation in America because people--including too many Italian Americans--are more interested in romanticizing those scumbag mob criminals. So the majority of us embrace any positive examples we can find. Don't get me wrong, every ethnic groups wants to put forward its best and brightest, but not every ethnic group has to overcome the widespread images of Capone, the Godfather, and the Sopranos.
This dynamic makes us ultra-sensitive to whispering campaigns about mob ties against prominent Italian American politicians like Mario Cuomo, and even more absurdly, Rudy Giuliani. Chris Matthews brought it up on his show yesterday, in response to some Democratic talking points:
"I'm sitting here holding in my hands a pretty disgusting document. This is put out not for attribution, but it comes from the Democrats. They're circulating it; I can say that. The first thing they nail about this Italian-American is he failed to win a mob conviction in a trial ... way back in '88. In other words, they nail him on not putting some Italian mobsters in jail from the family. Why would they bring up this ethnically charged issue as the first item they raise against Judge Alito?Like I said, as usual, Barone knows of what he speaks.
"This is either a very bad coincidence or very bad politics," he added, and warned Democrats that their sneak attack will backfire. "Either way it's going to hurt them. ... Not abortion rights, not civil rights but that he failed to nail some mobsters in 1988 -- this is the top of their list of what they've got against this guy. Amazingly bad politics."
Update: Redstate has some more interesting information on those talking points.