THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2020
All in all, nobody asked: Who the heck is Amy Coney Barrett?
We have no idea. We thought Democratic questioning of Barrett was stunningly ineffectual these past two days Today, we're running into commentaries that seem to make little sense.
Concerning the questioning:
Much of the time was devoted to the repetitive presentation of questions the nominee wasn't going to answer. We refer to questions about various issues which might conceivably come before the Court.
This refusal to answer didn't seem especially new to us. Indeed, Barrett kept quoting bromides from Justices Kagan and Ginsburg designed to convey the impression that she was following past practice in refusing to answer.
On the front page of yesterday's New York Times, Adam Liptak placed Barrett's reticence within the historical context we ourselves would vaguely remember:
As a nominee for the Court, Robert Bork talked about everything under the sun, and he got voted down. From that date forward, nominees have generally clammed up. That includes Kagan and Ginsburg.
You'd never know that any such history exists judging from Susan Matthews' unfavorable critique of Barrett at Slate. Matthews seemed to want to tell readers that Barrett was refusing to answer because she's a very bad person, as "others" typically are.
Matthews isn't a legal reporter. She doesn't seem to understand the concept of a "super-precedent" as it arose in these hearings, even though Barrett explained it rather clearly on several occasions.
Meanwhile, at New York magazine, Charlotte Klein offered this near the start of a snarky review:
KLEIN (10/14/20): A judge on the D.C. appeals court, Barrett was noncommittal when asked if she would weigh in on possible election disputes. “I can’t offer an opinion on recusal without short-circuiting that entire process,” she told Senator Patrick Leahy. While Supreme Court nominees have historically given vague responses to hypothetical questions or ones about potential cases, Barrett’s dodges are particularly concerning because Trump has made it clear that his rush to confirm her has everything to do with the election he plans to contest.
"A judge on the D.C. appeals court?" Even now, one day later, the passage hasn't been corrected. Truly, our tribe is less than impressive.
Over and over, again and again, Democratic senators asked the kinds of questions that haven't been answered for decades. As usual, Kamala Harris was slickest of all, drawing praise from the liberal faithful in the process.
Other types of questions never got asked. How were this person's values formed? Is she now, or has she ever been, a member of an organized political party?
Questions about Barrett's basic person and basic values were basically never asked. Not that any of that was going to matter, of course.
Is everything artifice now? At hearings of this type, we start with the questions which won't be answered, then proceed directly to reviews which place the subject on the wrong court and assail her for performing like the earlier nominees we regard as saints.
Who the heck is Amy Coney Barrett? We watched for two solid days and we don't have the slightest idea.
We can't really say that was Barrett's doing. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our failing, flailing tribe is extremely lazy and soft and more than a little bit faux.
Full disclosure: The liberal world lost this seat when it stared into air, for twenty-five years, as Hillary Clinton was accused of multiple murders and was called every misogynist name in the book by high-profile media stars on our own corporate side.
In the end, this trashing let Donald J. Trump squeeze into the White House. To this day, you aren't even encouraged to know that this trashing ever occurred!
That's the way we lost three seats. Barrett didn't do that.