Thank you for that non-answer, nominee

As I watched Loretta Lynch’s testimony yesterday, I had the feeling I had seen this act before. Her approach to answering questions, her tone, and some of her word choices left me with a strong sense of deja vu.

Only in the evening did I realize where I had seen Lynch’s act. It was during the confirmation hearing of Cornelia Pillard, now a judge on the D.C. Circuit.

Like Pillard, when a Republican Senator asked a question, Lynch typically began her answer with “Thank you, Senator.” If the question was at all pointed, both Pillard and Lynch said “Thank you for that question, Senator.”

Usually, they then proceeded not to answer it. However, Pillard, a professor, was somewhat more inclined to answer than Lynch, a litigator.

When Democrats asked a question, the usual practice of Pillard and Lynch was not to thank them. To say “thank you” would confirm that the question was a softball, designed to help the witness. So instead the response usually would begin with something like “Certainly, Senator.”

It seems clear that Pillard and Lynch received the same coaching. And both followed instructions quite well.

Is there anything wrong with this? No. But the point is worth making in the context of Lynch’s confirmation proceedings.

The question before Republican Senators — as one of them after another stated — is whether they can be confident that Lynch will not be another Eric Holder. Lynch expressed no disagreement with any position taken, or practice engaged in, by the Holder DOJ.

Instead, she offered something resembling a tautology. She promised “to be myself.”

But Lynch wasn’t herself during the hearing. Her answers were programmed and generic. She was Cornelia Pillard (and who knows how many other nominees), serving up testimony choreographed by a consultant.

Again, this isn’t problematic unless one accepts the premise — which many Republican Senators espoused and some may even believe — that the Holder Justice Department is beyond the pale. If one accepts that premise, then more should be required of Lynch than a deferential, coached answering style and meaningless “commitments” to uphold the rule of law and to meet with Senators to address their concerns.

What’s required is an acknowledgement that something is wrong at DOJ. Lynch never even hinted that there might be something wrong. Moreover, the evidence strongly suggests that she’s fully on-board with the radical, lawless agenda of Eric Holder, who helped put her in the position to succeed him.

Who knows the real Loretta Lynch better — Eric Holder who smoothed the path for her and President Obama who nominated her, or Republican Senators who know her through her courtesy visit and choreographed testimony?

“Thank you for that question, blogger.” It answers itself.

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