Thursday, January 12, 2006

Disappointed and Disappointing

Disappointed and disappointing are the two words for the night. Disappointed is the way I feel because disappointing was the way the Democrats handled the Alito hearings.

There's no excuse of "we're the minority party." Some of the worst moments were from Democrats. Joe Biden obviously spent a great deal of time planning his questions and he obviously enjoys the sound of his own voice. But he was incapable of listening. He had no real follow ups. Time after time when Alito would answer in a vague or troubling manner, Biden would basically rush on to his next prepared question.

Herbert Kohl? Was he even there? He'd speak and it would be, "Who's that?" On the third day, he did seem to have a point or be close to one.

Ted Kennedy, Charles Schumer, Russ Feingold and Patrick Leahy did the best job. But why were the other Dems unable to grab the baton on the handoff?

Diane Feinstein was just embarrassing. She never followed up on questions others had asked.
It seemed like she was trying to score points with various factions in the party. "Here's my Roe questions" and "Now here's my environmental questions."

Both are huge issues but others hit hard on Roe and managed to note other things as well.

Feinstein didn't hit hard on anything. She had no follow ups. She felt the need to say, "I'm not a lawyer," as if she was the anti-Star Jones, over and over. Since Florida's the sunshine state, and not California, I have no idea why she wanted to act like a ray of sunshine.

But there she was joking and saying sweet things. Vouching for him at times.

Does she know how to handle a witness because it never seemed like it in the hearings.

Mike's parents have been saying Hillary Clinton should be on the committee. I'm sure that will make some people groan. She's not exactly been the person that a lot of us who voted for Bill Clinton thought she would be. But as a lawyer, I think she would have done a better job. As a professional lawyer with experience, I think even if people were whispering that she'd cut a deal with Alito ahead of time, she'd still feel the need to semi-rise to the occassion if only because she conducts herself like a strong woman, not like a little girl.

I'm not saying she'd cut a deal ahead of time, by the way. I am saying the rumors wouldn't be surprising if they popped up and I'll add to that this: she's done so much damage to her own reputation over the war that the generic reaction to rush to her (and Bill's) defense may not kick in the way it did in the past.

But Diane Feinstein gave no indication that she was equipped to handle a committee assignment.
Kat's called her "The Little Lady of the Senate," Rebecca's noted "Miss Diane" (since the Roberts' hearings, in fact) and Elaine's questioned the image considering Feinstein's hawkish rep and her husband's business. It seemed like an act. All it needed was Louis Armstrong on the trumpet blasting out "Hello Dolly" right before she spoke each time.

I want strong leaders. C.I. floated a question tonight of were we focused on her too much? (That wasn't an accusation, just something C.I. tossed out to the roundtable.) The consensus was that we weren't. It's not charm school, it's the Senate. Diane Feinstein is as embarrassing as Lindsey Graham who speaks like a melodramatic heroine in a Tennessee Williams play. But he's a Republican. It's irritating to hear him speak but that's the Republicans problem. Diane Feinstein was the Democrats problem. From interrupting Ted Kennedy (twice), as he attempted to ask a question, to playing like Miss Manners, she was a huge embarrassment.

She had issues she touched on but she did them a huge disservice by constantly presenting herself as not fit to serve on the committee. I don't just mean "not fit to serve" in our judgement. She truly approached each questioning period with the theme of "I'm not fit to serve." She'd say she wasn't a lawyer or that she didn't understand something. She undercut herself repeatedly with her own words admitting she wasn't up to the task.

I'm glad C.I raised the issue because it was worth exploring. I call her out not because she's a woman but because she won't conduct herself like an adult woman.

You won't find any praise for Barak Obama here. He's African-American. I'm African-American. It might seem to some that he and I should be "on the same page." We're not. Word of him spread through the African-American community quickly and there was a lot of hope pinned on him. A lot of people are disillusioned with him now that he's in the Senate.

I'm not. He blew the illusion of hope for me when he gave that speech at the DNC convention in 2004. I know the White media applauded him. That speech was worrisome. For any speaker, that speech was worrisome. Coming from someone campaigning as a "progressive" only made it more so.

He spoke like a charter member in the DLC and I lost all hope and respect for him.

Is he still the darling of the White media because he doesn't even register in my community except for grunts of disgust if his name comes up. He comes off like Hillary Clinton's soul twin.
If I followed any hearings or events he participated in, my comments on Diane Feinstein would seem mild by comparison. I think she's embarrassing. Women may think worse and that's their right. But as an African-American, I think Obama is more than embarrassing, I think he's shameful.

Feinstein needs to grow up and act her age. She's not the little lady of some fifties sitcom. She's a United States Senator. If you don't own your power, you lose it.

But anything I've said about her is nowhere near what I'd be saying if Obama had been on the committee. He's not just refusing to use his power, he's betraying it.

And I could talk about that without mentioning the jokes in the community (African-American community, just to be clear) about him trying to pass and worse.

There are women and men in Congress that speak to the African-American community. The White press isn't too interested in them. Maybe if Maxine Waters, John Conyers, Jesse Jackson Jr., Barbara Lee, Cynthia McKinney and others watered themselves down, the White press would cover them. But don't make the mistake of thinking that just because the White media crowned Obama as some sort of victory for "the people" that the "the people" see it as such.

What we (African-Americans who aren't Republicans) see is a future O.J. Simpson. That's not suggesting he'll be tried for murder. That is saying that as soon as he finds himself in the midst of a scandal, he'll suddenly remember he's Black and rush to the community to plead his case so that we'll get behind him when the White community is done with him.

Until that scandal comes, he doesn't appear to be willing to do anything for African-Americans.
So speaking only for myself, my comments on Diane Feinstein are nothing compared to what I will write when I see or hear Obama speaking on some "We're all one" issue where the community is once again screwed and a token is used to make it seem like it's not happening.

And if any of that is a surprise to you, I'm guessing you know of him through the White media that's rushed to crown him. Once he started mentioning Iraq less. When he was having to compete, before the Republicans couldn't mount a real challenge, he had quite a bit to say about Iraq. He gave that up. As those speeches got toned down more and more, the White media came sniffing. They know he'll play the game.

Changing to better news, Betty has a new post at her online novel Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man. That's how I see her site, an online novel. So check out Betty.

And C.I. had the best call on the hearings today so here's a sample of that:

So what has today been like? Not as lively as yesterday. "Enough of that. Let me move on." Who said that? Which Democrat? Does it matter? Doesn't that seem like those two sentences summed up much of what's gone on so far today? (Diane Feinstein said it today to Alito, for those who missed it.)

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