I mean, really.
Kamala Harris will get a second crack at Kavanaugh tonight. As I write this at 6 p.m. ET, it’s at least possible that she’ll redeem this process somewhat by catching him in a meaningful gotcha.
But I wouldn’t bet on it:
Just asked Kamala Harris about Kasowitz denial that no one at firm talked to Kavanaugh about Mueller probe.
“They’re not under oath,” she told me.
So she doesn’t believe them?
“The question was asked under oath” and he didn’t answer, she says as elevator doors close
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) September 6, 2018
Booker has been by far the biggest clown in this multi-day circus but he’s a symptom, not the disease. The disease is that the confirmation hearing has simply outlived its usefulness in the era of the Ginsburg Rule, with nominees vetted by the White House to a molecular level to avoid any scandalous surprises like the one that nearly derailed Clarence Thomas’s confirmation. Between the nominee’s scrupulous evasiveness on the constitutional questions everyone wants answered and the minority’s desperate efforts to get any little clod of mud on his record to stick, we’re treated to a three-day show about nothing — every time.
All the more so because, in a hyperpolarized era, the final vote is never in doubt. If Trump, Don McGahn, and Leonard Leo had any reason to believe that Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski might not vote to confirm Kavanaugh, Kavanaugh wouldn’t have been the nominee. Simple as that.
What you’re seeing with Booker’s insane grandstanding and Harris’s campaign-ad cross-examination is nothing more or less than two presidential aspirants seeking to fill empty time in a productive way. There’s nothing else for them to do. We’re going to wind up with something like 26 hours of questions and, in all likelihood, not one truly significant or memorable answer. Why do we continue to do it, year after year, knowing that the proceedings are sure to be a garbage festival of out-party senators one-upping each other on who can pander to their base with the most ostentatious show of defiance? And it’ll only get worse in years to come. If you thought this one was bad, with Democrats interrupting Chuck Grassley after every sentence and Booker vowing to risk expulsion from the Senate by heroically producing documents that didn’t damage Kavanaugh one bit, just wait until the hearing for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Republican successor.
Booker’s going to fake-cry on camera for that. Not dignified crying, either. Ugly crying.
We’re in the same position with Supreme Court hearings as we are with the State of the Union. It’s a pointless, outdated tradition. No one enjoys it. It makes the country dumber. In the case of SCOTUS confirmations, the only people benefited by it are senators who view their seats as mere stepping stones to the job they really want. We can do better than this. (Maybe?) Henceforth, whether the nominee is a Democrat or Republican, how about this: No vote on the nomination for at least six weeks after it’s announced, to give the minority party time to find dirt on him/her. Senators on the Judiciary Committee get private one-on-one meetings with the nominee and the right to have a certain number of written questions answered. If the Committee decides that a hearing simply must be held, then it’s kept very short — four hours, tops — and there are no cameras no cameras no cameras allowed. Do things that way and maybe we’ll see a few votes in the Senate at the margins keyed mainly to whether the nominee is qualified for the job rather than to an ideological litmus test, which is how it should be. At the very least, we’d be spared the spectacle of Cory Booker ugly-crying for Democratic primary votes. How about it?