Commentary Magazine


He Said What??

Jan Crawford Greenburg captured one of the more egregious moments yesterday:

After he complained about the Democratic filibuster, Leahy tried to blame Republicans for failing to get him confirmed when they had a majority — and then tried to blame Estrada himself, for not answering questions because he may have been “distracted” by a high-paying job offer.

??? Did I hear that right?

Estrada had (and has) a high-paying job, at Gibson Dunn, which he was willing to leave to go on the federal bench. And, regardless, Estrada answered questions every bit as thoroughly as John Roberts, who was confirmed to the DC Circuit — despite his not turning over the same DOJ documents the Judiciary Committee wanted from Estrada.

Estrada was blocked by Democrats for one reason — the same reason they blocked Bush’s other minority and women nominees: They knew he would be on the short list for the Supreme Court if confirmed.  And they knew it’s a lot easier to block a nominee at the appeals court level, when no one is paying as much attention as the do to the Supreme Court. (Republicans are seeing that now with Sotomayor.) It was a deliberate, thought-through strategy.

Greenburg then gets in a well deserved dig at the Republicans:

But Leahy is right to blame Republicans: If Majority Leader Bill Frist had shown real leadership, he would never have allowed a Democratic majority to achieve the first-ever filibusters of appeals court nominees. If Trent Lott had been majority leader, Estrada would have been confirmed. And odds are, it would be Miguel Estrada, not Sotomayor, who would be the first Hispanic Justice on the Supreme Court.

Ouch. Yes, the Republicans were not exactly exemplars of political courage or skill. But the real point Greenburg aptly makes here is that Leahy’s is blatantly misrepresenting the facts. But there is a lot of that going on at these hearings.