My room-mate and I just sat through hours of John Roberts refusing to answer questions. Instead of wasting time with that, I could have been reading any number of exciting tomes that are stacking up in my room. (They are, fyi: for "book group" - Kotlowitz's There are No Children Here; Doblin's endless, but awesome November 1918, Dumas' Count of Monte Cristo, Hugo's Les Miserables, and the obligatory stack of academic works I have deemed necessary, such as Christopher Waldrep's The Many Faces of Judge Lynch. What I would most dearly love to be reading right now relates not at all to my own, mysterious era of specialization, which actually includes almost all of the books listed above, but is from another era entirely.) I could also have been reading news and blogging.
Meanwhile, just remember Roberts' serious conflict of interest, which Russ Feingold brought up during the questioning. Says Bruce Shapiro in the afore-linked interview with Amy Goodman,
The crucial thing here is not just that this is a single victory for the White House and that Judge Roberts was part of it, but rather, if you look over his career, deference to the Executive Branch, a sense of favoring the power of the Presidency over the other branches, is the most consistent thread of his career. This is a man who, as a lawyer, served the Executive Branch of government for many years. This is a judge who in the last couple of years has issued some striking rulings. For example, in the case of a teenager arrested for eating a single French fry on the D.C. Metro, thrown into handcuffs and put in a police vehicle. Judge Roberts wrote that this was a reasonable policy on the part of police to discourage delinquency. This is a guy who is in love with the power of the Executive Branch, and I think what that says is that the deepest motivation of the Bush administration in choosing him, along with the questions of confirmability and so on, is, in fact, that he's a judge who will reliably extend presidential power in the war on terror. I think that's the bottom line.
Roberts confirmed Shapiro's judgement today in the hearings, during which he showed himself to be "Bush's boy" throoughout. At one point, as he refused to answer question after question, but particularly in his responses to questions about the Hamden case, I was reminded so much of the stonewalling on Rove and Plame. Remember that? It was supposed to bring the piggies down, but there has been little about it lately.
Roberts refused to reveal much of anything, and evaded nearly every question asked. He even refused to offer a strong opinion on whether it was a problem to threaten individual judges, but kept talking about the importance of freedom of speech.
Watching the Roberts hearings is only interesting as an exercise in reading between the lines. My guess was that in his refusal to criticize those rabid-right judge haters that he was trying not to "alienate the base. " That should seriously undermine his claims to impartiality. Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham said such odd things about Ruth Bader Ginsburg while he was questioning Roberts. I wondered if they were all true. I searched and found many a right-winger repeating the Republican talking point on Ginsburg. I found this article on the issue on Mediamatters. I wish that those dems would filibuster, but they are too scared.
I have finally lost any hope that anything will achieve the downfall of the Bush regime. After the fiasco in New Orleans, I can't imagine that there's any crisis too big for the Republican loyalists to ignore.