Not exactly must-see TV

NOT EXACTLY MUST-SEE TV…. For political drama in July, I suppose we could do worse than Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings, which kicked off less than an hour ago on the Hill. I know of some intrepid colleagues who’ll be live-blogging the process, and Political Animal readers can probably expect periodic updates.

But I’m not expecting much in the way of excitement. Today, for example, there will be opening statements from each member of the Judiciary Committee, which will run about 10 minutes each. There are 19 members, which means this will take a while. Sotomayor is expected to say a few words of her own, probably around 1:30 (eastern) this afternoon.

It’s my understanding that there won’t be any actual Q&A with the judge until tomorrow.

As for what’s going to happen, I haven’t found anyone, anywhere, who seriously believes Sotomayor’s confirmation is in doubt. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) conceded last week that he may end up voting for her, and the WaPo reported today that Sotomayor is close to locking up some additional Republican support, in addition to her universal support among Democrats.

One surprise may come late in the day, when, according to sources, several Republican senators could announce their support for Sotomayor’s nomination, effectively sealing her appointment to the court and making the only question how many votes she will receive.

Among those who some court watchers say could make an early announcement are Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, the only Latino Republican in the chamber, and Sens. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana and Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine.

The WSJ added that Republicans have a specific target in mind: 23 votes in opposition when the nomination heads to the floor, which the GOP believes would “reflect a significant protest vote.”

With that in mind, defeating the Sotomayor isn’t even on the radar screen, and neither is the prospect of a filibuster.

Under the circumstances, I’d kind of like to see Sotomayor get the Douglas treatment: “It is a profound departure from the day in 1939 when William O. Douglas waited patiently outside the committee room and sent in a message asking if there were any questions the members would like to ask him. There weren’t.”