The Education of Harry Reid

THE EDUCATION OF HARRY REID…. These comments from Reid fall into the category of “one can only hope he’s BSing”:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday that John Roberts misled the Senate during his confirmation hearings by pretending to be a moderate – and that the United States is now “stuck” with him as chief justice.

Ah yes, no one could have predicted…. Please. The Senate isn’t the most discerning bunch of people in the world, but it was pretty clear to all that Roberts was strongly conservative.

Anyway, what really bothers me about Reid’s comments is that they reinforce the idea that confirmation hearings matters. They don’t — and we’d all probably be better off ignoring them entirely.

Reid is suggesting that Senators based their vote on what Roberts said during the confirmation hearings. Again, I’m just hoping that’s BS, because the alternative (that Senators actually voted based on his confirmation promises) is pretty depressing.

But the focus on confirmation hearings is consistent with how the media builds these things up. Following a Supreme Court nomination, the dramatic “conflict” focuses too heavily on whether the nominee can survive the hearings. If so, he or she is golden. That’s the great test for life tenure in our time (at least for people who are minimally qualified — unlike Harriet Miers).

What’s funny, though, is that “surviving” means successfully not answering questions from lots of different people over long periods of time. The more you fail to do, the greater you succeed. It’s a completely pointless exercise.

Actually, it’s worse than pointless because it distracts us from looking at what really matters — the nominee’s past record. There’s simply no better predictor than past performance. And if we didn’t have the Kabuki theater of confirmation hearings hogging the spotlight, the political focus would hopefully shift to the nominee’s record where it belongs.

Anyway, it’s all moot now — I’m guessing I’ll like the next nominee better. But I’ll still be annoyed by the pointless hearings process. Errr…. I mean that the absolute most critical test for Obama’s nominees should only be whether they can survive the grueling nomination hearings.