I have spent the last several days listening to people who are crueler than I am, people who denigrate and pander, people who lie with a smile, people who mislead, people who present their argument with such passion and authority that you could almost think they believe what they are saying is true except it is nothing more than political posturing, people who need to display righteous indignation.
I have spent the last several days (to the detriment of my sleep cycle) listening and watching the Senate’s Supreme Court nomination hearings.
While most of you might find this a tedious and boring way to spend an evening, for me, it is fun to watch a probable 2020 presidential candidate try to sound as though he actually is undecided in his questioning. Such is difficult in reality because affirming the nomination contradicts what his base will see as virtue.
I find it interesting to watch the senior senator from Illinois bluster his way through a speech that were the situation reversed his argument would be exactly the opposite of the current one he is making. There is zero doubt as to his decision on whether to approve of a competent and qualified candidate for the court. His vote last year proved how open-minded he is in his decisions.
These hearings, and the ones from last year, while as entertaining as any soap opera or circus could be, are quite informative as to the way our system has come to work and revealing in the partisanship that has become our union.
Within hours of the announcement of the nominee for the Supreme Court justice-to-be, there were multiple senators who had already declared their decision to vote “no” based solely upon the fact that he was chosen by the current President of the United States.
It is also true that there were comments made by some senators in support of the nominee before the hearings had begun. Although, this is less of a concern since elections decide who is allowed to nominate judges to sit on the federal bench.
It was once considered normal for deference to be given to the choice put forth with consent coming after confirming that the nominee was competent, qualified, and of good standing.
Sadly, that went away in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the process became politicized and the destruction of an individual’s reputation and livelihood was considered acceptable collateral damage in the pursuit of a political agenda and guaranteed judicial opinions.
Since the final vote is pretty much a forgone conclusion, considering the current party in power in the legislative and executive branch is the same, I do not watch to know the outcome.
I watch to learn. I watch to understand. When questions are thoughtfully asked and answered in a meaningful way with an intention to make an informed decision, I watch to get a glimpse of what it is we could be as citizens and representatives.
I have enjoyably spent the last several days watching people who are smarter than me, more patient than I am, people more informed than I will ever be, and, without question, people more sincere and dedicated to the proposition that service to our nation and public institutions is an honor.
RICHARD PUGH, of Ottawa, is enjoying life in the Illinois River Valley. He can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.