Studied calm vs. mindless bombast

David Von Drehle in the Washington Post takes a look at John Roberts’ style of answering questions before the Supreme Court, and considers how that style — calm, agreeable (at least on the surface), and prepared — will play before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Von Drehle suggests that Roberts’ style may frustrate Democrats on the committee, but otherwise will play quite well.
A major difference between the questions of a Supreme Court Justice and a Democratic Senator is that, before long, the Justice stops talking and allows the target to answer. But the Senate Democrats cannot derail Roberts with speech-like questions; they can only do so by letting Roberts speak and hoping that he stumbles. The chances of this happening appear quite slim.
To improve their chances, Senate Democrats are attempting to induce Roberts to open up. Thus, Senator Durbin told him, “if you will be more open and honest with your answers to us, it will go a long way.” But Senator Durbin attempted to use what appears to be a false account of his private conversation with Roberts to start a firestorm over how Roberts’ religious beliefs might affect his judging. Thus, Durbin and his cyncial cronies richly deserve the circumspect answers they will receive from Roberts next month.


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