Hearings open today in the Senate Judiciary Committee on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Of all of the things that the Senate does, this one is at the top of the important list. Not only is it actually in the actual Constitution (a document frequently ignored or misquoted by Senators on both sides) but it is a decision that will affect generations of Americans.
Most Senators take this very seriously. Most try to put aside the partisan nonsense and hold fair hearings. Or they used to anyway. I have noted before that Republicans are far more likely to have dignified proceedings than Democrats. This is simple history.
However, history is not preamble and things change. Sadly, I suspect that Kagan's hearings will be more about November elections and political spitballs than the actual Supreme Court.
Needless to say, the hard conservative branch of the GOP in the Senate is going to vote no on Kagan no matter what. They would vote no on their spouse's nomination if Obama made it. That is their plan and mantra. That voting no on everything regardless of what will somehow lead them to a glorious victory in November.
The hard liberal branch of the Democrats in the Senate will, of course, vote yes. They would vote to approve a rooster for Secretary of Defense if it was an Obama pick. Their mantra and plan - approving everything blindly with zero regard for the consequence will lead to a glorious victory in November.
For the record, these same sides voted the opposite way on most Bush nominations. They just vote reflexively and represent nobody as they do so. For these 2 hardened ideological camps, it is all about the next election and forwarding the packaged agenda.
That leaves a decent number of Senators that still exercise some free will when voting. Not many, but some. It is difficult to enumerate them or even identify them since they prefer to be very quiet and do not race for the cameras.
The hearings themselves will be about November. They will be more of the same stupid ideological tug of war that has effectively stymied progress for years if not decades. For the pathetic collection of soiled egos on the committee, these hearings will be about the president and the sitting court, not Kagan or her qualifications.
Both sides seem to agree that she is qualified. Nobody has come forth with anything that is really a factor that would lead to her not being confirmed. The weeks of research and investigation have turned up little that is even controversial. But that really won't matter when the lights come up in the committee room. It won't really be about Kagan.
The one serious controversy surrounding her is the decision she made as president of Harvard Law School to ban military recruiters over the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. Was this wrong? Well, as an American I am offended that our military is excluded from recruiting the best and the brightest. However, I also recognize that Harvard has a long tradition of this and rules in place regarding it. Is it a disqualifying factor? Probably not. However, it should raise serious questions about her position regarding the law (don't ask, don't tell is law) versus school policy.
Were this to be the level of disqualification, we would have no justices on the court. Not one of them would survive this process as it now stands. In fact, some of the great jurists to ever serve on the court would fail this nomination/confirmation process.
Two Senators' recent comments on the Kagan nomination stand out as particularly goofy.
Jeff Sessions says: "What Ms. Kagan's nomination says about President Obama will be part of the discussion." Really? Is Obama nominated for the court? Or is this just a way to toss a bunch of flaming spitballs around? Perhaps create some controversy and noise for the November election?
New York's own lawn mower man Chuck Schumer: "In decision after decision… corporations are winning over ordinary citizens. The current conservative bloc is bending the Constitution to suit an ideology." Come on Senator. We're not that stupid. First off, Kagan would not change the make up of the court. Secondly, didn't Schumer vote for most of those justices?
(New Yorkers will get the lawn mower man reference from his last re-election campaign)
Both are as wrong as wrong can be. Neither is looking at this nominee for her ability and qualifications. They see her as a pawn in their endless game. All they see is the next election cycle and the shifting majority. To them, it is all about the game and not at all about the people. Even something as important as a Supreme Court nomination is fodder for the endless partisan hackery. These Senators and their colleagues are unable to rise above their selfish little games and actually serve the people.
The Senate and the rest of the Congress are beholden to those that put them there. Not us. Not the voters. The money people. The lobbyists. The special interests. The 2 failed and corrupt political parties.
It is time to let these clowns in the Senate know that we are tired of these games. Tired of our government being just a kick ball in their school yard rivalry.
Come November, toss the lot of them out. No incumbent should return to office after this last Congress. They have shown themselves to be useless and irresponsible. They are blind ideologues, reading the day's talking points without comprehension. They are corrupt and arrogant.
They need to be fired. To drive home that message, I am offering T-Shirts with this message:
As a capitalist and a free market person, I am selling them for both profit and with the intent of donating to those candidates that are willing to step outside the parties and declare a concern for the Constitution and the people.
You can order them here: http://www.itisnotagame.spreadshirt.com