Kagan's Keystone Kops

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 29, 2010; 9:25 AM

After three hours, I was afraid that Elena Kagan might pull a Petraeus and faint at the witness table, overcome by all that senatorial hot air.

Really, this was a parody of political preening. These Judiciary Committee gasbags go on and on, let Kagan read an opening statement, and then adjourn for the day?

Not a single question asked?

No wonder people think Washington is a farce.

First, they didn't have to start the hearing at 12:30. But after doing that, how about working past 4 p.m.? You know, like regular employees who have to put in an eight-hour day?

Now imagine if they had let Kagan deliver her statement first. Then they could have used some of their time to react to it, rather than just reciting their staff-written words.

But the cable networks might have broken away sooner, spoiling the senators' brief moment in the spotlight.

Of course, we're only talking about a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court -- the importance of which was underscored Monday when five justices invalidated local laws restricting gun ownership rights. Regardless of what you think of the ruling, isn't the right supposed to be in favor of states' rights over federal preemption?

Which brings me to the Kagan questioning, when it finally gets underway. It will most likely be the "vapid and hollow charade" that a younger Kagan once called Supreme Court nomination hearings.

She will say all the right things about fairness and then, if confirmed, largely vote with the liberal bloc. The same way that John Roberts and Sam Alito largely vote with the conservative bloc. Roberts famously vowed to be an umpire who would call balls and strikes. Once on the bench, he has almost invariably called the game for his team.

No wonder the senators would rather listen to themselves than to the nominee.

Perhaps Commentary's Jennifer Rubin was right when she said on Monday morning: "I'm going to go out on a limb (not really): the confirmation hearings will be dull as dishwater and Elena Kagan will be confirmed easily."

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