Carol Platt Liebau: MSM's Take on Roberts Hearings, Day 1

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

MSM's Take on Roberts Hearings, Day 1

Both The New York Times and The Washington Post seem disappointed by the relative lack of "fireworks" in the first day of the Roberts hearings.

But the Post is on solid ground with its sense that, for the Democrats, the hearings have become less an opportunity to derail the Roberts nomination than a tool for living to fight another day.

The Post notes, "But the positive reaction to Bush's nominee to replace the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and the internal head counts in the Senate have forced Democrats to adopt a different stance in approaching the hearings, one aimed as much at future elections as the question of whether Roberts will become the next chief justice. "

Half right. In my view, the Democrats aren't going to be trying to make inroads with the American people for future elections. Roberts is such a skilled respondent, and his views are so reasonable, that the Dems are doomed to failure if, as the Post puts it, with an eye on an election more than three years away they:

"came with the intention of talking about their values and their view of the courts as protectors of women's rights and civil rights, and of the importance of preserving an expansive view of the federal government's powers in the face of a series of Supreme Court decisions limiting that power."

After all, what normal American voter is going to remember a disquisition from a pompous old senatorial windbag at election time in '08?

In my view, the Dems' end game is different: They are trying to influence the choice of the Justice to replace Sandra Day O'Connor and, if they dislike the ultimate choice, laying the structure to find grounds for defeating him/her. Almost everything they do, in fact -- from the answers they seek to elicit from Judge Roberts to the tone, quality and kind of questions they pose -- is focused on this objective.


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