if you dont have any real work baffle them with bullshit - i saw part of these on tv when i was eating lunch at taco bell and they were being shown on TV - for most of my lunch one lawmaker babbled on non-stop about how wonderful he was and how wonderful government was.
Queries take back seat to senators' speeches
Janet Hook Los Angeles Times Jan. 12, 2006 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON - With typical Midwestern bluntness, Sen. Charles Grassley seemed to say it all when he summed up Day 3 of Senate committee hearings on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.
"We've gone over the same ground many times," the Iowa Republican said. "The horse is dead. Quit beating it."
And if one thing has become clear since Monday, when Alito first sat down in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, it is that the process is as much about the senators and their own agendas as it is about the nominee.
Several lawmakers have spent more time delivering their own speeches than they have questioning Alito. Nary a mind appears to have been changed.
The result has been a hearing regarded by many Capitol Hill veterans of past confirmation battles as one of the most colorless in modern memory. "It's like the first half of The Wizard of Oz," one Democratic staff member said.
Although Democrats tried to step up the drama Wednesday with more confrontational questioning, the hearing room remained heavy with a sense of inevitability.
The hearing "really isn't a forum for senators making up their minds as it is for advertising their views and trying to expose Alito's," said Elliot Slotnick, an expert on judicial nominations at Ohio State University.
Democrats, largely failing to fluster the nominee let alone derail his confirmation, have tried to use the hearing to depict him as an ideologue who probably would tip the balance of the Supreme Court sharply to the right.
Republicans have used their time before the cameras to counter the Democrats' criticism, lob softball questions and shower Alito with praise.
Lacking have been the fireworks that marked the confirmation hearings of two previous nominees: Robert Bork, whose 1987 nomination was rejected after he haggled with Democratic senators over his conservative views, and Clarence Thomas, who in 1991 overcame accusations of sexual harassment to win approval to the court.
A high-profile hearing like this one, which was held before a sea of cameras, is hog heaven for publicity-conscious senators. Rare is the legislator who passes up the opportunity to question the nominee on national TV, even if the question already has been asked.
"Since the politicians seem to have made up their mind, and the rest of this is simply playing out, I suspect that if there weren't TV cameras, this part of the hearing would be over by now," said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.
Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., who is thinking about running for president in 2008, found a sure-fire gimmick to get the cameras turned on him. Discussing a controversial Princeton University alumni group of which Alito was once a member, Biden clapped on a Princeton baseball cap. Every camera in the room swung to him.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., also understood the value of props in a hearing as dry as this one. He pulled out a pocket-size copy of the Constitution.
Republicans had props of their own. Responding to Democrats' claim that Alito was being evasive and refusing to answer key questions, Kyl displayed a poster with quotes from the day's newspaper articles describing him as a forthcoming witness.
Many issues were revisited as Democrats returned to the dais battered by overnight criticism from liberal activists that they were going too easy on Alito.
"They forgot that part of their role is to educate the American people (about Alito's record)," said one activist who asked not to be identified while criticizing Democratic senators. "Some of them didn't go the additional step of thinking about how to reach other Americans whose minds haven't been made up."
After Democrats spent the day trying to portray Alito as evasive, a foe of abortion and a potential rubber stamp for presidential power, even they admitted it was a tough message to get across.