Yesterday Joe Biden was talking about the Alito confirmation hearings with Katie Couric, and suggested that “the system’s kind of broken.”
Well, duh. My question back to him would have been, “so, who broke it?”
These confirmation hearings aren’t required, but they’ve become SOP for the Senate Judiciary Committee, mainly, I think, due to the fact that they are televised. It was clear from questioning by Biden, Ted Kennedy, and others, that they were not really interested in learning anything from Alito. Rather, they were interested in 2 things: “Borking” Alito (seeing if they could get him to to say something stupid that would destroy his chances for confirmation), and in grandstanding. The grandstanding was obvious, even to the liberal press, who had to admit that some of the Dems were going over the top in their carryings-on (except for NPR’s All Things Considered, of course).
Biden took 8 of his allotted 30 minutes to ask his first question. We learned more about Biden’s views than Alito’s, and not because Alito was being non-responsive. Kennedy spent most of his time ranting about that red herring conservative Princeton group, demanding documents be subpoenaed, and in general just being Ted Kennedy. Either Kennedy is a pure idiot, or he just plays one on TV.
Kennedy should apologize to Alito and to the Judiciary Committee for his tantrum about the CAP documents. It turns out that the documents that he wanted to subpoena were freely given to him (which Kennedy’s staff, along with Committee staff members reviewed until 2 A.M. looking for smoking guns). What they found was what Alito had suggested – he didn’t appear anywhere in the documents. So, all that for nothing, except Kennedy got to accuse Alito of being a bigot, with no basis whatsoever. And again, no apologies, because after all, he’s Ted Kennedy, and he apparently doesn’t have to apologize for anything.
Also, consider the fact that no one actually expected Alito to answer the majority of questions he was asked. No judge can “guess” how he will rule on imaginary cases, nor should he. Only a fool would try – and in that regard, I guess the hearings worked to show that at least Alito is no fool.
The system is indeed broken – or at lest badly dented. Just compare the last 2 hearings (and don’t forget the Bork hearings) with earlier confirmation hearings (especially of Democratic-appointed judges). It used to be that Judges were evaluated on their qualifications, and confirmed whether they were liberal or conservative. It was the President’s call to nominate who he wanted, and this was accepted; now, the Democrats simply won’t vote for someone unless they show a streak of liberalism. Like Bush would nominate a liberal judge, just to please Joe Biden or Chuck Schumer.
Alito will be confirmed, probably along party lines, which shows that these hearings were little more than a platform for the Democratic Senators to grandstand. As I’ve said before, it is the 2-party system that appears to be broken. If this us vs. them mentality continues, it’s only going to hurt the country.