Roberts’ Future, Bush’s Future, E.J. Dionne’s Future

The Roberts confirmation hearings are upon us, bringing with them all-day coverage on the cable networks, not to mention instant (and endless) analysis of the handsome Harvard grad’s appearance, demeanor, and impressive ability to gently brush off pesky, overly-specific questions from senators.

For our purposes, the hearings are providing plenty of material for the blogosphere, where we found some surprisingly entertaining punditry.

For a blogger at AnkleBitingPundits, the hearings were just cause for “a little experiment” to prove that senators of either party “are some of the most arrogant people who love the sound of their own voice and think they are oracles of some kind.” Using the transcript of Tuesday’s hearings, bulldogpundit counted the number of words that each senator used to question Roberts, compared to the number that Roberts used to answer. The results, listed “in descending order of bloviation,” found that in the Joe Biden-Roberts Q&A, Biden spoke 70 percent of the time, and Roberts only 30 percent. Ted Kennedy was a close second among Democrats (65-35 percent), followed by Chuck Schumer (63-37 percent). John Cornyn and Mike DeWine (both at 63-37 percent) and Jeff Sessions (60-40 percent) talked most among Republicans.

“This first date isn’t going well,” writes the liberal Josh at The American Sector, who had previously warmed to the idea of the conservative Roberts on the Supreme Court. “The minute he opened his mouth on Monday afternoon and started to talk in sports analogies, our ideologically star-crossed fling came to an end. There was some interesting conversation about precedent and privacy, but as dinner dragged on, he grew less forthcoming,” Josh says, his keyboard obviously tinged with disappointment. “He’s getting a handshake — and nothing more — when he drops me off at home.”

Now That’s Progress reiterates the theme, remarking that “Roberts didn’t shed light on much yesterday. Kept saying he didn’t want to talk about anything that might actually come up before the court. Coincidentally, that was everything that the Senators asked about.”

But for Hugh Hewitt, the Democratic “Potemkin Opposition” to the prospective chief justice could not be going any better. The “long winded and almost endless set-ups” of the Democrats’ questions are doing Roberts a great favor, according to him: “The Democrats should be asking short, simple, and open-ended questions — hundreds of them — but they cannot bear to forfeit the television time so they chew up their only hope — the time that Judge Roberts spends talking — and their opposition is thus perfunctory.”

Meanwhile, the most-discussed news article at Technorati this morning was yesterday’s op-ed by Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, “End of the Bush Era,” in which he posited:

The Bush Era is over. The sooner politicians in both parties realize that, the better for them — and the country.

Recent months, and especially the past two weeks, have brought home to a steadily growing majority of Americans the truth that President Bush’s government doesn’t work. His policies are failing, his approach to leadership is detached and self-indulgent, his way of politics has produced a divided, angry and dysfunctional public square. We dare not go on like this.

Truth and Lies: Blog for A Better America responds with some rather unproductive invective, writing, “We hate to say ‘we told you so’ but we’ve been long predicting that the strange detachment and narcissistic, self-serving political style of George Bush would eventually turn on itself and implode. Bush is now reaping what he sowed.”

H.D. Miller at Travelling Shoes, for one, isn’t buying it, relying on “a never fail rule of thumb” that if “Dionne says it’s so, you can be certain it ain’t.” He adds: “Look for Bush to stage a big comeback in the polls over the next couple of months as the mess in the Gulf gets straightened out, the economy rolls along, and the truth about the successes in Iraq becomes more widely known.”

Michael J.W. Stickings at The Reaction doesn’t buy it either, but only because he believes Dionne has jumped the gun. “I’m not sure what to make of this,” he writes, explaining:

[Bush] has three and a half years left, and three and a half years are a long time in politics. Dionne’s on to something, but it may be a bit premature to write Bush off so early in his second term. Just as Katrina brought him low by exposing the hollowness of his leadership, or the lack thereof, some as-yet-unknown event could bring him back up…

The president’s approval ratings may be at an all-time low, but we’re going to stick with Stickings on this one — few football games are lost in the first quarter.

Edward B. Colby

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Edward B. Colby was a writer at CJR Daily.