Karen Bleier/Getty Images
Sen. Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, listens as Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor answers questions. The Sotomayor confirmation hearings have been a bit drier than those in recent history.
Sen. Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, listens as Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor answers questions. The Sotomayor confirmation hearings have been a bit drier than those in recent history. Karen Bleier/Getty Images
Grain commodity trading contracts. Orange peels for animal feed. Goose bumps. Fendi. Securities law. The baseball All-Star game. And Perry Mason.
All were on the table Wednesday as her advocates worked to run out the clock on Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing.
If Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee intended to finish off Sotomayor's critics by inducing boredom — and many privately suggested that was the point — consider the mission accomplished, or just about.
And the unflappable and increasingly confident nominee was a polished accomplice.
She deflected direct questions about abortion ("All I can say to you is what the court's done.").
She explained away a brief summary decision she joined in a controversial opinion that dismissed white firefighters' reverse discrimination case ("We can't handle the volume of our work if we write long decisions in every case.")
And, when encouraged by open-ended softball questions lobbed by the majority left-leaning members of the committee, she swung for the filibuster fences. (Ugh. Another baseball metaphor, but in keeping with another recurring theme of the week.)
The other themes? Here's a quick look at the view from both sides, and the takeaway Wednesday from the practiced and well-choreographed ritual.
Republicans On Sotomayor:
Sotomayor disses heroic firefighters.
She thinks people have different physiologies.
She gives shocking speeches about ethnicity and judgment that undermine her 17 years on the bench.
She might support a woman's right to abortion.
The National Rifle Association has reservations about her.
And some lawyers who have appeared before her think she's a pushy broad.
Democrats On Sotomayor:
Her mind is always open.
Jurors are heroes.
She was once a prosecutor.
Did they mention she was a prosecutor?
She is dispassionate when it comes to the law.
She loves facts, not hypotheticals.
She's tough on white-collar criminals and sends them to prison.
She believes in deference to each branch of government.
Hispanic chambers of commerce support her.
She supports voting rights.
Her life story gives Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island "goose bumps."
And she really, really wishes she was better at rhetorical flourishes.
The committee has a new celebrity in Minnesota's Democratic Sen. Al Franken, who apparently shares with Sotomayor a love of the old long-running courtroom drama Perry Mason.
But some Senate watchers were missing two former longtime Democratic committee members who could be counted on for hearings drama — or humor: Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, a civil rights firebrand who is battling cancer; and former Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, now vice president, whose verbosity approached legend.
But, for now, for Democrats and Sotomayor, boring is good.