Missing Rove and My Impressions

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Jan 10, 2006 12:22 PM

Remember last week how I didn't go to the meeting I usually go to on Wednesdays and Al Gore showed up? Well, yesterday I couldn't go to the afternoon session of the RNC Blogger Forum, and who showed up while I was decidedly NOT THERE?

Karl Rove. Capt. Ed was there, though, and got the whole scoop.

So, in the future, I'll be letting you guys know when I am supposed to go to some event but can't, and you can go in my place and enjoy hanging out with some really high-profile newsmakers.

I've been a little MIA because I had to fly out of D.C. yesterday afternoon for Seattle. I got here at 2 a.m. my time and crashed but quick, without blogging.

As a result, I have yet to give any of my impressions of the SCOTUS hearings, so I'm gonna start now.

Impression 1: Man, is Joe Biden a jerk or what? Sarcasm is a seasoning best used sparingly, Joe, especially in a situation as serious as a Supreme Court hearing. He just comes off so angry and unpleasant and pompous. It's not a good look for him and not a good way to present himself to the nation if he really has presidential aspirations. Kennedy is equally rude to the nominee, but he's at least straightforward. Biden sounds like he's just a moment away from a "yo momma" joke.

Impression 2: Kennedy would be wise to rehearse the names of nominees before they appear before the committee. Stumbling over Alito until it becomes "Alioto" lends itself to a certain negative stereotype of the Massachusetts senator. It also has the effect of reminding us of another name goof-up by the good senator. (Thanks, Kevin, for the reminder about that.)

Kennedy also mangled the name of the Democrats' new star, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, calling him "Osama bin … Osama … Obama."

Not a good foot to start on.

Impression 3: It is apparent that Alito will not be as funny on the stand as John Roberts was. But Sen. Grassley picked up the slack yesterday. He came directly after Ted Kennedy's approaching-apocalypse-style opening statement and said, "I have a slightly more positive view of Judge Alito than Sen. Kennedy does." There was much laughter. All right, it's not that funny, but it's a SCOTUS hearing. The bar is so low I couldn't limbo under it.

Impression 4: Alito is not as good at looking interested in the Senators as John Roberts was. I have thought many times throughout these recent SCOTUS nominations that the hardest part has to be sitting through opening and closing statements and looking like you care. Roberts did a phenomenal job. Alito is pretty good, just not quite as good. But I give props to anyone who stays awake and/or doesn't outright laugh.

Impression 5: Democrats don't seem to be landing any punches today. Alito's not the charmer Roberts was, but he explains himself well and makes it clear just how often Senators are oversimplifying complicated judicial questions. To the average American, just as in the case of Roberts, I think the nominee will look much more impressive than his questioners.