I think Carl has written about this subject in the past, but it is worth a revisit.
The Alito hearings are progressing just about how I thought they would. Senators preen, ask questions, Alito answers, next question.
I am no law professor, but even a high school kid can tell that the questions that the senators ask suck, suck, suck. No follow ups, just read the question, listen to a highly detailed answer from an extremely intelligent and well educated person and move on. It is also clear that the senators didn't write the questions. They read every single word from a paper in front of them, then have no idea how to follow up to try to pin Alito down. Not that I want them to, I think Alito is eminently qualified to be a justice. But I simply think that the American public is not being served well at all in this weird process. For gods sake, Ted Kennedy thought Alito yesterday said inept when he said inapt. Alito even had to repeat himself so Ted could get Alito's answer straight.
It is clear that the senators up there are simply not smart enough when it comes to legal matters to stand up to the likes of Alito or Roberts. Had Miers made it to the hearings, I suspect the same thing would have happened. When Breyer and Ginsberg had their hearings, the same thing went down. The last one who actually had problems in one of these hearings (that I can think of) was Bork.
So why do we have to keep doing this? Why do we have to watch John Kerry or Arlen Specter ask questions of the most eminent legal minds in the United States? Did anyone really think these senators had a chance against someone with the legal smarts of a John Roberts? Or Alito? Or Condi Rice when she had her hearings? Or John Bolton?
Look at it this way. Would you hire me to do tryouts for a professional football team? Imagine you are a team owner and you decide to take someone with absolutely no experience in football to choose the members of your team. Lunacy, isn't it?
Well, that is what we are doing with these hearings. While some of the senators are lawyers, all are rusty and probably haven't practiced law in many years. Note that the senate judiciary committee is packed with senate veterans that have been around for a long time. Rusty probably isn't a very good word. Crusty may be a better one.
If we are going to leave the process as is, lets at least give some different senators a shot. I don't necessarily agree with the politics of a Feingold or Obama, but wouldn't it be refreshing to see some hard questions and follow ups to the candidates?
But the bottom line is that the process is totally, 100% broken and really isn't very interesting any more. I could have written better questions than the ones that were asked at those hearings yesterday. It was truly painful to watch and the American public, as usual, is not being served at all by those clowns up on the hill.