First up was Sen. Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat who beamed as he introduced Kennedy, his constituent. He was clearly in an effusive mood, first praising the panel’s leaders for “the great job you’ve done on this committee” before launching into his ode to Kennedy.
Having run through her accomplishments as a philanthropist, author and lawyer, as well as those of her storied political family, he lauded Kennedy’s most recent coup: successfully swimming three miles in the Hudson River for charity. “I’m not sure either of us could have accomplished this feat,” Schumer marveled to Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the committee’s chairman.
Schumer finished with a parting compliment: “Her passion to do right and do good burns so strongly within her. Thank you for the privilege. It’s truly a privilege.”
Next, New York’s other senator, fellow Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, took a turn at introducing the woman she called a “favorite daughter of New York,” noting that Kennedy would be the first woman to serve as ambassador to Japan.
“In her life, her work, her intelligence and her character, Ms. Kennedy will serve as a shining example” to young women in that country, she said.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) might be new to the chamber, but his homage to Kennedy fit right in. “You are the pluperfect embodiment of someone who has dedicated her life to helping others,” he informed her.
But it wasn’t just Kennedy’s status as political rock star that ensured the kid-glove treatment, suggested Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the committee’s top Republican.
He revealed one of the secrets of confirmation hearings: that nominees who bring their children to the proceedings typically avoid any rough treatment. Kennedy was accompanied by a family contingent that included two of her three children, as well as her aunt Vicky Kennedy, the widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.).
“I doubt you’ll get much of a hard time today for a variety of reasons,” Corker said. “But having your kids here ensures that.”
Kennedy returned the love. When Menendez asked a stock question about whether she would keep the Senate apprised of developments on bilateral talks between the United States and Japan, she displayed formidable diplomatic skills.
“If confirmed, I hope to spend even more time with all of you than I have already,” she said.
And later, a nod to her uncle — and to his former colleagues: “I grew up under the tutelage of a great senator, so I have the utmost respect for the position.”
Putin’s nyet gains
New Gallup polling shows that Americans are less enamored of Vladmir Putin than ever before.
To read the polling firm’s analysis, it seems that sentiment toward the Russian president is souring faster than a week-old stroganoff — it’s the first time that a majority of Americans, for the first time, view him unfavorably.