Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Judge Roberts - Bette Davis Eyes


Kevin Lamarque/REUTERS

"I come before the committee with no agenda. I have no platform. Judges are not politicians who can promise to do certain things in exchange for votes." Judge John G. Roberts, Jr.

I don't know how the Reuters photog got that picture of Roberts, but you have to believe it's the only true look we'll get of him as a politician during his confirmation hearings ... and possibly ever, once he's on the Court.

The guy's a lock. If you've been watching the hearings you know it too. Even if you've only seen secondhand news reports, one detail is crystal clear: John Roberts comes before the committee with a major agenda. It's called Getting Confirmed.

And he's also got a solid platform. It's called Acting the Part. Hooboy, can this guy act. He can do Sincere. Thoughtful. Cool as a Cucumber. Above the Fray. Focused on Point. He can even do Humble. Most of all, he can act Judicial ... and as the hearings continue, he'll continue to give the winning performance: Chief Justice.

He's got it down pat. And with no notes--a master stroke--he's making his case. He's calmly laying out America's favorite buzz words, from baseball to individual rights to Ronald Reagan, like winning hole cards, always with the same blank poker face. Betraying nothing. Displaying nothing. Except a Judicial Mien. Interested. Respectful. Responsive. Proud but Not Arrogant.

Damn! Who's been coaching this guy? Whoever it is, my hat's off to a hell of a strategy.

Roberts appears to have an answer for everything. Yet he manages to say virtually nothing of substance. And when his questioners get frustrated and distracted by his superb evasions, he only seems more imperturbable, more unflappable, more Judicial.

Senators Biden, Kennedy and Feinstein have been doing their best to drill down into Robert's true inner beliefs and leanings, but they're getting nowhere fast. And when Biden interrupts and berates and complains, all he manages to elicit is a bit of comic relief from the committee Chairman at his own expense. And from the Nominee, nothing but the same steadfast adherence to calm, reasoned, Judicial demeanor.
Senator Biden, "His answers are misleading."

Committee Chairman Senator Arlen Specter, "Now, wait a minute, wait a minute. They may be misleading, but they are his answers."

Judge Roberts, "With respect, they are my answers. And, with respect, they're not misleading; they're accurate."
One could logically ask, What Answers? Accurate How? We still don't know where Roberts stands on Rove v Wade, Eminent Domain, Media Access, Judicial Review, Right to Privacy, Equal Protection of Women and Executive Power. The one question he answered directly is a no-brainer. When Senator Kennedy asked if he supports Brown v. Board of Education, which outlawed segregation in public schools, Roberts replied simply, "Yes."

Yet when questioned on the president's right to authorize torture of prisoners in violation of international treaties, Roberts replied enigmatically, "No one is above the law."

What the hell does that mean? The Robert's confirmation hearings could have, should have been a penetrating evaluation of the man's credentials and ideologies as a candidate for Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. Instead, they've become a game of high stakes poker, with Roberts and the Republicans holding all the aces. In the midst of the brouhaha over Katrina, Roberts is playing the game superbly.

A lot of rights for a lot of Americans are at stake here. But the players in this drama can't seem to get their acts together. Except for John Roberts. Who, as John Lovetz used to say on Saturday Night Live, is "Acting!" And about to bluff his way onto the Supreme Court by keeping us from seeing the real face behind the mask. For all we know, this apparently moderate judge could be as harshly conservative and dangerous as Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

Which makes me think back to the travesty of the Clarence Thomas hearings. And then I fantasize: if only John Roberts would pick up a can of Coke, we might be home free.

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2 Comments:

Blogger succesfull guy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Suellen Crawford said...

I am very much a democrat but have to comment about the fact that John Roberts cast the deciding vote re Obama's health care.

3:44 PM  

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