8 a.m. ET: The confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination are over, and there is precious little we know now that we didn't know four days ago.
We know Republicans won't filibuster her, but we already knew that, since Jon Kyl and John Cornyn said essentially the same thing before the hearings began. We know that Sotomayor was well-coached to speak generally about a lot of subjects, but specifically about almost none. We know that senators like to hear themselves talk. We know that empathy and foreign law are bad, the Constitution is good and a "wise Latina" nominee will never take the bait and confess to harboring judgment-altering prejudice.
The much-anticipated appearance of Frank Ricci and a fellow New Haven firefighter largely fell flat Thursday, though through no fault of their own. Dana Milbank writes that Ricci "was to be Sonia Sotomayor's Anita Hill," but then never really seized the spotlight to criticize Sotomayor much or say why she didn't belong on the court. He did not become Anita Hill, nor even Joe the Plumber. David Cone's appearance was similarly uneventful, and he could have provided a more valuable public service by hopping a cab down South Capitol Street and suiting up to help the Nationals.
On the Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham "is considered a bellwether for how large a majority of the Senate will vote for her," the Washington Post writes, and so his questions were much-watched Thursday. It would be tough to divine much from Graham's third round of questioning, since he spent much of the time educating the nation on the intricacies of military law, rather than actually quizzing the nominee. As for Jeff Sessions, in his first confirmation as the committee's top Republican, his performance was "not great but not a disaster," in the estimation of Politico, which added that Patrick Leahy's was "not pretty but plenty effective," while Al Franken's was "so-so."
In the wee hours this morning, the House Ways and Means Committee approved its version of health care reform, though that news was largely overshadowed by the sobering pronouncements of the Congressional Budget Office director. Douglas Elmendorf warned Democrats that none of their reform proposals would do much to bring down long-term health costs, prompting Blue Dog leader Mike Ross to say, "There's no way they can pass this bill on the House floor. Not even close." In the Senate, Mark Leibovich is the latest to write that Democrats really miss Edward Kennedy, reporting that cancer is "taking a mounting toll" on the veteran lawmaker.
In New York, President Obama delivered a "fiery sermon to black America" at the NAACP convention, urging African-American youths to follow his path or become a scientist or engineer rather that a rapper or basketball player. Some attendees are looking for concrete action from the president to accompany his stirring words, the Washington Post reports, since "Obama has navigated the complicated terrain of race in a nuanced way, seldom dealing with it directly in terms of policy." Obama faces a new challenge this morning in a place thousands of miles away yet close to his heart, as a pair of bombs shook two luxury hotels in his former home of Indonesia.
In infidelity news -- yes, this is now a standing feature -- Chip Pickering is the latest politician to have his marital problems exposed. In this case, the former Mississippi lawmaker's estranged wife is suing his mistress, alleging that Pickering abandoned his family and even turned down a Senate seat to be with her (at least it was in Mississippi, not Argentina, right?). As Jonathan Allen of CQ points out, Pickering previously lived in Washington -- do we even need to say it? -- at the famed "Fellowship House" on C Street. Was there something in the water there?
July 17, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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