The Spectacle Blog

Hearing an Opportunity

By on 5.5.06 | 4:09PM

Notwithstanding all the points I made in the two posts below, this new hearing for Kavanaugh may not be a terrible thing. First of all, word is so strong on the Hill that there is some sort of wink-and-nod agreement from the Democratic Seven NOT to filibuster Kavanaugh -- so strong that the first AP story actually said the pledge was specified in the letter written by the Demo Seven to Specter, before later stories dropped that incorrect claim -- that I'm assuming there must be something to it. One very solid source of mine in the Senate or Senate staff, very well placed, assured me flat-out that the deal for another hearing absolutely would not have been made if there weren't some VERY strong reason to believe, based on Member conversations, that a new hearing would make it easier for Kavanaugh to get confirmed rather than more difficult. Frankly, it sounds awfully fishy to me -- similar assurances sure seem to have been made and broken by the Dems in the past -- but the proof will be in the pudding. As much as we pundits think we know, we must admit to not being privy to all private Member conversations, and so we shouldn't leap TOO quickly to judgment.

Second, a new hearing for a good nominee and good witness like Kavanaugh, while a calculated risk, could well end up aiding our cause in the public eye. ANY time the witness is solid and keeps his wits while windbag senators browbeat him, the witness ends up looking better than the senators. See Oliver North, Clarence Thomas (who enjoyed STRONG poll support immediately after the hearings which only dissipated after another year of pummeling from the MSM while he had no other chances to defend himself), Bill Pryor, John Roberts, and Samuel Alito. I have faith in Brett Kavanaugh's ability to parry any cheap shots by Kennedy, Schumer, and Durbin -- AND, if offered the opportunity, to creating a "teaching moment" or two to explain again to the American public why a conservative ("textualist," "originalist," or "strict constructionist," which aren't exactly the same thing but all of which are basically conservative) jurisprudence is the proper one, and to explain how bad results (eminent domain abuse, anyone?) stem from liberal, make-it-up-as-they-go approaches to constitutional law. The more the liberal smear artists try to tear down an obviously qualified, intelligent, fair-minded and decent nominee, in a public forum where the nominee has the chance to defend himself, the conservative cause advances.

Third, the KEY test will be whether Kavanaugh still gets his committee vote next Thursday, just two days after the new hearing. If he does, the harm will be minimal. It will mean that there is still plenty of time to confirm him on the floor well before Memorial Day, AND to get several other appellate nominees confirmed as well.

IF, on the other hand, the Dems claim to be "disturbed" by the testimony and demand (and are granted) yet another week's layover before the committee vote on Kavanaugh, the possibility of getting him finally donfirmed by the full Senate before Memorial Day becomes far more distant. And since he is to be the first nominee considered on the floor, that would create a bottleneck for all the other pending nominees. Every time the process is pushed back, a judge is likely (on the back end) to get abandoned due to other supposed priorities on the Senate calendar (and the campaign calendar). Meanwhile, the Memorial Day deadline is especially crucial if the widespread rumors are true that Justice Stevens will step down at the end of this term. The experiences with Roberts and Alito show that the very minute that happens (if it does), ALL other appellate nominees will get sidetracked for the duration of the Supreme Court battle. What's worse, if the constitutional option that kills filibusters hasn't been used by the time a Supreme Court nomination comes forward, it will be less likely that Bush will nominate a real superstar (like, say, Edith Jones) because the Dems of course will threaten to filibuster any solid conservative who shows real flashes of brilliance.

All of which means that the decision to have another Kavanaugh hearing is dicey. But if Kavanaugh and Specter and other GOP senators (and the White House, for that matter) play it right and extract enough concessions from the "moderate" Dems in return, it could turn out okay in the end. I don't like the looks of the decision for a new hearing now, but I'm not ready to flat-out denounce it until and unless I see some of the bad scenarios above (rather than the good ones at the very start of this blog post) actually occur. We shall see.... and Specter and Frist and company will be judged on the results, and, if the results are good, will be justly praised in this quarter as well, where right now skepticism has a bit of the upper hand.

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