Document-dump drama obscures politicking - Albuquerque Journal

Document-dump drama obscures politicking

WASHINGTON – If you missed Day One of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court hearing, just try to imagine a mud-wrestling contest attended by banshees howling at the referee.

Between senators interrupting the all-wise-and-patient Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and shrieking protesters, the proceedings were too lowbrow to resort to the usual circus metaphor. It was a performance, all right, but it was embarrassing to watch.

The falderol was allegedly about a document dump from the Kavanaugh team that arrived in Democratic members’ offices Monday night, too late for staffers to read and analyze everything. These were the last of nearly a half-million pages provided to the Senate – or more than the total for the past five nominees combined, according to Ed Whelan, president of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Tuesday morning began with Grassley attempting to begin the hearing, and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., attempting to immediately adjourn. Next came Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., followed by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., etc., etc.

This choreographed effort to obstruct the proceedings continued most of the morning. Republicans could barely speak without a Democrat barging through the gossamer veil of mutual respect, while the audience, including an organized cabal of shriekers, seemed to think this was a multimedia carnival in which participation is welcome. All that was missing was the canned laughter.

Throughout, Kavanaugh sat solemnly stoic, looking very much the law student who keeps his eyes on the professor’s face to avoid staring at the mustard stain on his tie. Every now and then, he appeared to jot down a note, though given the debate taking place, he might have been sketching scarecrows.

So what about those 42,000 pages? It is a rather large cache, you have to admit. And what about the last-minute dump? Isn’t that an act of bad faith? Not necessarily.

First, the last-minute dump is a time-honored tradition in the nation’s capital and a common tactic in litigation. Lawyers will do what lawyers do. As for the whining about needing more time, really? This is Washington, folks, where Starbucks is literally on all four corners of a downtown park. Teams of fast skimmers and a case or two of Red Bull could have produced a rash of salient bullet points by breakfast – if Democrats were really curious. Happens all the time. Indeed, Garrett Ventry, Grassley’s communications adviser, tweeted Tuesday afternoon that the senator’s legal documents team did review the full stack Monday. “We had 15 people working on it.”

But this is a case of style over content. Tuesday’s takeaway can be distilled to four points: (1) Democrats will do anything to postpone confirmation until after the midterm elections, when they hope to blue-wash the Senate; (2) at least two Democratic committee members – Harris and Cory Booker of New Jersey – are running for president and needed to show their chops; (3) the Democratic Party base needed a back rub; (4) Democrats want to be able to say, “We tried.”

As for the quantity of documents, Kavanaugh suffers from his own work ethic and productivity, which has resulted in a vast paper trail that is far longer than anyone else’s in Supreme Court history. Indeed, members of this Judiciary Committee know far more about Kavanaugh than they’ve known about any other nominee.

But Democrats remain obsessed with the documents they know they’ll never get, and this, too, has become a weapon in their arsenal. These 101,921 pages, which pertain to Kavanaugh’s tenure as White House staff secretary to George W. Bush, are protected by executive privilege because they contain candid deliberations, “the confidentiality of which is critical to any president’s ability to carry out this core executive function,” according to Bill Burck, former President George W. Bush’s presidential records representative.

Democrats now complaining about the inappropriateness of this protection weren’t always of such mind. The estimable Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., not so long ago co-signed a letter to the Bush Library acknowledging that some documents should never be released. And Democrats had no objection when some of Elena Kagan’s records weren’t disclosed during her confirmation hearing. Alas, but for a few rhetorical flourishes here and there, it’s all just a partisan show, ladies and gentlemen. Politicians will pontificate; screamers will scream; Grassley will maintain his reputation for fairness and integrity. And Kavanaugh will be confirmed.

Let’s get on with it.

Email kathleenparker@washpost.com. (c) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group.

 

Home » Opinion » Columnists » Document-dump drama obscures politicking


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Thieves take so much more than your cash
Columnists
Being victimized can cause trauma, and ... Being victimized can cause trauma, and has nothing to do with your 'intelligence or common sense'
2
Tips for keeping you and your energy bills cool ...
Columnists
It is hot outside. According to ... It is hot outside. According to PNM, demand for electricity is highest during the summer cooling sea ...
3
A new community hub for the South Valley
Columnists
Social Enterprise Center brings new approach ... Social Enterprise Center brings new approach to economic development
4
Navajo nurses took different paths to making big differences ...
Columnists
Looking back on long nursing careers, ... Looking back on long nursing careers, Erma Marbut and Lavenia Diswood are most proud of the ways the ...
5
Anniversaries of grief bring lessons, opportunities to help
ABQnews Seeker
You will not 'get over' the ... You will not 'get over' the loss of a loved one; you'll learn to live with it
6
Journal reader engagement focusing on underrepresented communities
Columnists
I moved to Albuquerque from Colorado ... I moved to Albuquerque from Colorado last November, marking the third time in my 53 years that IR ...
7
NM voters should get say on healthy environment
Columnists
What is the Green Amendment and ... What is the Green Amendment and what would it do? Democrats in the New Mexico House and Senate have ...
8
Newspaper memo from the past rings just as true ...
Columnists
Editorial page writer Sharon Hendrix rarely ... Editorial page writer Sharon Hendrix rarely throws anything out. So before retiring last month after ...
9
Credit freeze effective against identity theft
Columnists
Study found that only 3% of ... Study found that only 3% of victims initiated a halt