Even as he fought for his political life in a primary several hours north of the Capitol, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) was the butt of jokes among his colleagues at a Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday.
The year’s most controversial judicial nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, was before the panel, and Democrats were pounding away at
his credentials for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. During questioning, Kavanaugh, a mid-1990s aide to Kenneth Starr in the independent counsel’s office who authored portions of the oft-salacious Starr report, failed to provide Sen. Charles Schumer with an answer that satisfied the New York Democrat.
Schumer was trying to get Kavanaugh to say the Starr report went too far into former President Bill Clinton’s sex life, and Kavanaugh was artfully dodging the question. So Schumer finally went for a straight yes-or-no question — whether Kavanaugh would have voted to convict Clinton and remove him from office had he been a Senator during the 1999 impeachment trial. Still not getting a straight answer, Schumer blurted out, “Would you have voted ‘Aye’ or ‘Nay’ — and you can’t use Scottish law!”
It was one of the rare moments of levity in an otherwise tense hearing, prompting bipartisan laughter at Specter’s expense. Specter famously cited Scottish law and voted that the case against Clinton was “not proven” in the trial.
For his sake, Schumer had better be worried about Specter’s vengeance if he pulls out a primary victory against Rep. Pat Toomey (R). Specter is slated to take over as chairman of Judiciary next year and may not mind poking and prodding Schumer when he has the chance.
But Schumer’s dramatics made for one very happy Democratic colleague. Several hours after his exchange with Kavanaugh, Schumer was spotted coming off the floor by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). She grabbed Schumer by the shoulder and, in full view of reporters, exclaimed: “I heard you were brilliant! I heard you were brilliant!”
And for the record, Kavanaugh declined to answer ‘Aye’ or ‘Nay,’ likening himself to a prosecutor on a case and saying it would be inappropriate for him to comment on a jury’s decision after it rendered a verdict. Which must mean Kavanaugh hasn’t watched a lot of cable TV recently.
The New Boss? The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has launched speakerpelosi.com, a new Web site dedicated to making House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) the first woman in U.S. history to wield the Speaker’s gavel.
“We need you to join us to win US House races around the nation so Democrats can elect Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi the FIRST WOMAN SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE!” reads the solicitation on the site, which asks members of the public to sign up to become activists in their Congressional districts.
Democrats made a real effort to get the word out about their site during last weekend’s big abortion rights rally in Washington. They handed out 10,000 buttons to marchers promoting speakerpelosi.com and have signed up 20,000 “online activists” to help spread their message via the Internet.