The thing that most frustrates me about the theater that is Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court justices -- beyond the fact that choosing the newest judge-for-life member of perhaps the government's most influential branch has been reduced to theater in the first place -- is that, like a bad action movie or weepy drama, it doesn't reflect real life.
For openers, the selection panel is all white -- a glaring fact that has caused murder trials to be overturned, yet no one mentions when it convenes to pick a judge.
Then there's the setting: a boring, overstuffed hearing room packed with reporters, aides and TV cameras. And hour upon hour of stultifying monologues from posturing senators. In my opinion, the real mental feat is how a nominee can sit there in front of the cameras as the hours grind by, listening to inane blather and pointless questions, and look interested. Or at least not nod off. That, to me, is an Oscar-winning performance.
My biggest beef, however, is the hypocrisy.
Practically all senators, and Republicans in particular, decry "activist" judges, unless of course the judge is activist against the people or institutions you don't like. One man's Thurgood Marshall -- a brilliant jurist who smashed more than one racial barrier in his lifetime -- is another man's John Roberts, a pro-business justice interested in smashing a different type of barrier: the one that stands between you and our corporate overlords.
During Elena Kagan's nomination hearing yesterday, she wasn't the only one under scrutiny. And that really pissed me off.
Take it away, Dana Milbank. Make it plain.