Submitted by M.A.Richardson
The dystopian world that many of us now inhabit was highlighted yesterday, as Amy Coney Barrett, prospective Supreme Court pick, was questioned in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee which resembled a hostage video rather than a hearing. How we envy the un-muzzled Swedish and a government trusting of their citizens. There is nothing normal about this new norm. Even her kids marched into the chamber in a line like the von Trapp’s, muzzled up and expressionless, or at least, if they had expressions, you could not see them which amounts to the same thing.
This exercise in big masks is probably working in Amy Coney Barrett’s favour, as both her and her large family can grimace and gurn as much as they like through the long winded diatribes fired at their mother, as long as they can all keep awake for the odd question. It is surprising how little expression can be read through the eyes once the rest of the face is covered. Friend or foe, who can tell? The eyes may be windows to the soul in literature, but in reality, very little can be garnered as to expression without the rest of the face being visible. Even without the mask, Barrett remains largely inscrutable, and only when asked about her family does she become animated. She is treading a fine line, minutely examined by the lens of the camera, method actors need not apply.
The senators’ questions alternate in a predictable ‘good cop, bad cop’ format. Coney Barrett puts her family centre stage, the Republicans have learned from the appalling displays of partisanship and psychological dismembering in the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, it is far more difficult to attack a woman, especially with her children sitting behind her and making their own judgments on proceedings. Barrett uses the kids like armour, by design, necessity, on advice, or just to save on childcare. So far at Day 2, the strategy is working.
The questions from Senate representatives are mere presentations of policy in the absence of any other high profile opportunity to push their agenda due to Covid-19 restrictions. Questions, when they do come, are designed either to prove a point or to catch out the victim for a cheap headline. It’s a cat and mouse game played to the point of tedium with the odd gotcha moment which amounts to not much. The 20 minutes given to the senators for questioning Barrett seems like an awfully long time when they are filled with platitudes and predictable partisan politics.
Barrett’s qualifications for the post of Supreme Court Judge, a life-time appointment, do not seem to be in question on either side of the house. This is more an opportunity for senators to promote their own agenda, virtue-signalling to either the left or the right, made all the more desperate when magnified through the lens of the upcoming 2020 Presidential election, now only a few weeks away.
It’s surprising that the contentious ‘vote-rigging’ issue, and the army of lawyers ready to dispute the election result after the 3rd Nov, is not front and centre. There are an estimated 80 million mail-in ballots, with likely disputations on both sides, and the possibility of the final decision as to the outcome of the most important election in modern history being kicked up to the Supreme Court for a ruling.
Surprisingly, the subject was not raised by every democrat senator as an opener or a closer. Surely the appointment of a conservative originalist judge to the Supreme Court is the immediate concern to the democrats so terrified of losing the radical left now running their party. Instead, the issue was skirted around. It was women’s abortion rights, gun rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, ACA, vote-rigging, subjects divvied out to senators, as if picked out of a hat.
The main topics of ‘catch me if you can’ are:
Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice abortion rights played out through Roe v. Wade
2nd Amendment right to bear arms vs gun control removal D.C v. Helle
Affordable Care Act (ACA)
1st Amendment Freedom of Speech vs Censorship
Freedom of Religion vs impartiality as applied to Coney Barrett’s fitness for office (prospective judges cannot be discriminated against on the grounds of their religion.)
Senator Lindsey Graham (good cop):
Graham: “I want to thank President Trump for choosing you, and I will do anything I can to make sure you have a seat at the table.”
Senator Feinstein (bad cop), took the ‘reel them in with a false sense of security, then go for the jugular’ approach, you could see it coming a mile off, although Barrett in her effort to be polite walked straight into the trap, or pretended to. Coney Barrett would be an excellent poker player as her ‘no expression’ default stance makes her difficult to read, and with the mask on, impossible.
Feinstein: “Judge, it’s wonderful to see you here. Also with a family I have been observing they sit still, quiet, you’ve done a very good job. I was wondering if you might introduce us to them?”
We know that for Feinstein, it is not so wonderful to see Comey Barrett as the ninth Supreme Court nominee, it is her worst nightmare, and Trump knows it. With the compliment on Barrett’s family and the smile of a viper, Feinstein is circling to soften up Barrett and looking for a chink in the armour, any kind of vulnerability at all. Feinstein knows Barrett’s family is the soft underbelly to pick at and if possible eviscerate.
Feinstein: “You don’t have a magic formula for how you do it and handle all the children and your job and your work and your thought process which is obviously excellent.”
Was it a statement or a question? It was not clear, but Feinstein’s thought process is obvious. Put Barrett at her ease, imply that she is taking on too much with her family, job etc and patronise her with judgements and hope for a mistake on Barrett’s part.
Coney Barrett: “It’s improv.”. (she laughs)
Did Barrett fall for it? Hard to tell. Feinstein has no interest in her family, unless for political leverage against Barrett. Feinstein goes in for the kill with the question that she really wanted to ask and with which she hopes to persuade any wavering senators. However the Democrat/Republican statements of policy are so partisan, battle lines so clearly drawn, it is laughable to think that the public don’t know a set-up when they see one, it really is that predictable.
Feinstein: “Yes. Yes. Well let me begin with a question the chairman touched on. It’s of great importance I think, because it goes to a woman’s fundamental right to make the most personal decisions about their own body.”
Feinstein is straight in with Roe v. Wade and abortion rights. For the Democrats, it is an exercise in keeping the left on board. These hearings are nothing more than virtue-signalling and appealing to the base. The hearings are about laying out policy, and on Day 2, Barrett often found herself without a question to answer at the end of a speech from a senator.
It is an insult to the American public that the senators don’t think the electorate capable of working out these games, audiences have become far more sophisticated. Joe Biden, the Democrat nominee, illustrates this well. The Democrats have chosen a man that most of the voting public know, if elected, will not make it past his first 3 months, never mind his first term. His embarrassing gaffs continue, and his turnout at rallies combined with Kamala Harris supporters are lucky to make it into double digits. Yet the Democrats continue with this charade of hiding the radical left from view whilst pushing sleepy Joe and his toothless deniability agenda, which is a preamble to a sharp left turn at socialism to something far more sinister.
It is interesting that almost all of the questions directed against Barrett from the left are poorly disguised attacks on her religious beliefs. Under the Constitution it states:
‘no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.’
– Article VI , Debts, Supremacy, Oaths, Religious Tests of the US Constitution
There were some comic highlights. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse was so overwhelmed by his malfunctioning placards in his ‘Dark Money’ segment that by the time he got to Roe v. Wade his improvised stand fell apart and his reasoning ended up on the floor of the Senate.
Ted Cruz showed his prowess as a litigator and demonstrated why Trump had him under consideration as appointee to the Supreme Court. Cruz is becoming a terrific public speaker, his skills having been sharpened by four years of the coup against the Trump administration, but going into the election, Trump has more need of him in the Senate and in front of the camera.
Day 3 is unlikely to be fun to watch, with the democrats becoming more and more desperate in their attempts to trip up Barrett and have her declared unfit for office, this is a platform they cannot afford to waste.
Hopefully at the end of proceedings Coney Barrett’s husband will whip out a guitar and we can all sing along to ‘Edelweiss’… it would be light relief as we reflect on our past and the dystopian future into which we are being propelled.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.