Much Ado About So Little It Hurts

08/16/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Supreme Court confirmation hearings are the ultimate made-for-TV event. The cable networks, so into news that does not exist, hype the hearings as monumental pegs. Senators, ever emblems of (cough) modesty and humility, masterfully play up their opportunity to be on live television.

The end result: much ado about absofuckinglutely nothing.

Certainly the appointment of new justice to the highest court in the land is huge, and a big news story. Once seated, Justices stay in their position for as long as they want. There is no political retribution possible once they are on the bench. A lifetime gig undoubtedly warrants a thorough and public vetting process.

But the truth is that senators never get substantive answers out of the nominees, since the first rule of being a Justice is that no advisory opinions can come into the fray. If you walk up to a judge on the street and ask them a hypothetical about something that may have happened, these folks are obliged not to answer your question.

Senators know this even if they pretend not to. Still, they ask questions about nominees' legal stances on political issues...really. Routinely, the nominee finds a polite, wordy way to avoid the question and is branded "evasive" by the opposition party, and the nets get one more sound bite for the fourth hour of Situation Room. Cycle through!

The issue before the Senate is pretty simple: Is the nominee qualified to sit on the Court? The answer: Yes, with the exception of the Harriet Mierses of the earth. All the kvetching about how a nominee's race shaped her worldview (how could it not?) -- or how a decision turned out 15 years ago -- is for the cameras, baby. Gums flapping in the Beltway! The Senate is there to give "advice and consent" -- this is not about social commentary nor legal advice.

Isn't it too bad advice and consent doesn't sell ads? The media would have no problems.

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