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Impressions from the Confirmation Hearing

Good grief.

I have not followed the hearing gavel to gavel but have caught a fair amount here and there, and as you might expect I have followed reporting and analysis at my usual, go-to sources: Politico, The PBS NewsHour The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Bulwark, and NPR. Here are some thoughts.

Ketanji Brown Jackson is impressive on all levels and eminently qualified for the position. She remained poised and measured in response to questions whose aim was to distort her record, impugn her judgment, and generally lay down a lot of horse manure to be slung in upcoming political campaigns.

The usual suspects reared up on their hind legs and comported themselves as we have come to expect. The comedy duo of Hawley (R-MO) & Cruz (R-TX). The execrable Martha Blackbun (R-TN). Far from least, the much aggrieved Lindsey Graham (R-SC), of whom it might be wondered how much in his repeated fits of high dudgeon is genuine and how much is deserving of an Academy Award nomination.

Hawley smeared Jackson as soft on child pornography and pedophilia on Tuesday. This morning Graham followed Hawley down into that sinkhole. On yesterday's NewsHour, Lisa Desjardins reported that she had talked to Hawley about his line of questioning:

I asked him, do you not allow for the possibility that she was in line with probationary officers' recommendations, if not prosecutors, which is his charge?

And he said: "Well, I haven't seen those probationary recommendations, and the prosecutors are the ones that matter."

Then I said, well, what about the data that shows she was, in fact, in line with federal judges across the country at the time, including judges in Missouri? And he told me he has not seen that data. (Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson defends her judicial record in Senate hearing)

Hawley's charges were debunked in multiple outlets in the days leading to the hearings. He has not seen a lot of things because he does not care to see a lot of things.

Cruz went after Jackson with the tried and true bogeypersons of critical race theory and the 1619 Project. For the record, I have criticized both critical race theory and the 1619 Project on a number of occasions while writing in this space and anticipate I will do so again. There are issues related to the tenets of CRT and historical claims made by the 1619 Project that merit examination and critique. None of that was to be found in Cruz's remarks whose intent was to smear Jackson by association with an academic school whose dogmas have been wildly misrepresented by partisans on all sides of the debate. Jackson answered the splenetic Texan simply and effectively. In Cruz's defense, perhaps he was still overwrought from Sunday's encounter with employees at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, where he became frustrated after missing his flight because he arrived too late for check-in (Ariana Garcia, Video: 'Frustrated' Ted Cruz argues with Montana airport staff over missed flight, Houston Chronicle, March 21, 2022; updated March 22).

Questioning from the Democratic side of the aisle was less colorful. Pretty vanilla for the most part and got less play in coverage for that reason. Amy Klobuchar was an exception, not a surprise, with substantive remarks and questions about antitrust law and tech companies that operate with near monopolies.

These remarks are partial. There is a good deal I have missed. The suspense, such as it is, comes down to whether any Republican will be a vote to confirm. I also wonder, perhaps unfairly, whether Manchin or Sinema might pull some stunt at the last minute. Let's stay tuned.

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