May 09, 2006

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

I attended Brett Kavanaugh's rehearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee today and, boy, did the Democrats ever prove the uselessness of subjecting this DC Circuit nominee to a second hearing. Not content to subject us all to a repeat of the lines of questioning they exhausted during Kavanaugh's first hearing, Judiciary Democrats went off on a series of irrelevant tangents today. On a number of occasions, the people in attendance looked at each other as if to ask "What does this have to do with Kavanaugh's nomination?" This is what happens when senators demand a second hearing for purely political reasons, regardless of the fact that they have nothing new to say.

Here then are the senators in the running for today's Kitchen Sink Award for irrelevant questions and remarks, along with a few examples of their contributions:

Sen. Schumer (D - NY):
Schumer began vying for the award by asking Kavanaugh whether Karl Rove was involved in picking judicial nominees. Though Brett played a role in picking judges while serving in the White House Counsel's Office, those watching the hearing could not fathom what Schumer was getting at. One can only assume he was hoping that the controversy surrounding Rove would rub off on Kavanaugh. Schumer then topped himself by asking whether Kavanaugh would have voted to impeach Bill Clinton had Brett been in Congress at the time. I was waiting for Schumer to ask Brett whether he would have dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima had he had been president in 1945, but Schumer ran out of time.

Sen. Durbin (D - IL):
Durbin – apparently an adherent to the guilt-by-association theory – asked Kavanaugh if he knew Manny Miranda, the whistleblowing Senate staffer at the center of the Memogate scandal. Brett said yes, proving absolutely nothing. Durbin also queried Brett as to whether Jay Bybee of the Ninth Circuit should have been confirmed in light of the "torture memo" he authored – a tortured attempt by Durbin to link Kavanaugh to the Administration's alleged torture of terrorists.

Sen. Leahy (D - VT):
Despite noble tries by Sens. Durbin and Schumer, today's Kitchen Sink Award goes to Sen. Leahy for the sheer volume of his irrelevant questions and remarks. For example, he asked Kavanaugh what and when he knew about the Valerie Plame affair. And, returning to Durbin's guilt-by-association theme, Leahy quizzed Brett about whether he knew Jack Abramoff, Michael Scanlon, and others involved in the lobbying scandal.

But Leahy didn't limit himself to irrelevant questions. He also indulged in irrelevant speechifying during his "questioning" of Kavanaugh, announcing that he was calling on the President to withdraw the nomination of Terrence Boyle, and bragging about the fact that, while chairing the Judiciary Committee, he moved Bush's nominees through at a faster pace than chairmen Specter (R - PA) and Hatch (R - UT). Never mind that Leahy achieved those numbers by focusing on district court nominees and uncontroversial appellate nominees.

It should be noted that Sen. Leahy was also the winner of the Kitchen Sink Award at last Thursday's executive session of the Judiciary Committee. During the committee's relatively brief discussion of Kavanaugh and a handful of other nominees, Leahy managed, at least twice, to work the arrest of Claude Allen – a former Fourth Circuit nominee and top Bush advisor – into his remarks. Congratulations to Sen. Leahy for once again beating out some very tough competition on the committee!