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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Professor Kingsfield and the Miers confirmation hearings

I have this impression that those predicting that Harriet Miers will absolutely, positively crash and burn during her Senate confirmation hearings — under brutal questioning from the likes of Slow Joe Biden or any other member of the Judiciary Committee — themselves have in mind that scene in The Paper Chase in which Prof. Kingsfield (fabulously played by John Houseman) said, "Mistah Haaaaaht! Here is a dime! Go and telephone your mah-ther, and tell her that there is ... substantial ... doubt-(tah!) ... about your eh-vahh! ... becoming! ... a laaaah-yah!"

Actor John Houseman as Professor Kingsfield in 'The Paper Chase'I don't think that will happen. For one thing, not one of the senators likely to be firing off hostile questions to Ms. Miers has a tenth of the dignity and aplomb that John Houseman had as the fictional (but entirely realistic) Professor Kingsfield.

But if it happens, I hope that Ms. Miers will have the panache to say something like, "You ... are a SON OF A BITCH, Sen. Schumer!"

All America will agree, but I seriously doubt that Sen. Schumer will have the presence of mind or the grace to say in response: "Ms. Miers! That is the most ... intelligent ... thing you've said all day!"

But no. Ms. Miers will almost certainly be far more restrained, and far less cinematic. Still, if she has even a bit of a flair for drama, she might come up with something equally as good, or better, as the Timothy Bottoms character, James T. Hart, shot back at Professor Kingsfield. After all, if she chooses to serve up charges against the opposing senators along the lines that Mr. Hart did against Professor Kingsfield — the truth will be on her side.

Posted by Beldar at 02:46 AM in Law (2006 & earlier) | Permalink

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Comments

(1) Rob made the following comment | Oct 13, 2005 3:33:08 AM | Permalink

The entire debate is getting very nasty, and this patronizing attitude toward Ms Miers is really starting to bother me. Rich Lowery needs to resign from NRO, he's an undergrad-type hack who has zero knowledge of the law, and a petition drive needs to be started IMMEDIATELY

The Paper Chase was a great movie, however after the movie came out in the early 1970's, Harvard Law apparently felt the need to claim "that's not really us anyways" and that they were really touchy-feely types after-all and such harsh confrontations would not really be beneficial to students, using typical liberal left wing b.s. type reasoning

John Roberts might best fit the mold of James T Hart, very bright, both in terms of IQ, pure effort, and people (EQ) skills, and he was at Harvard Law right around that era

People I've talked with from Harvard said Kingsfield was based on a composite of Bull Warren and some other professor

Non-lawyers don't understand the terror of law classes when one can be called upon at any moment. I recall making the mistake at Georgetown of wearing a bright blue outdoor blazer and not removing it before class in a cold late autumn day, and being picked out of class of 80 plus "you in the blue, stand up" and being made a total fool of because I was unprepared. However I kind of got a kick out it later on, and realized that Professors that sought to challenge students were really the best. It was kind of fun really, but one needs to just hang their head low for a few days after that

(2) saveliberty made the following comment | Oct 13, 2005 5:35:28 AM | Permalink

As a non lawyer who has worked with and for lawyers for many years, I have two points to add for those who are reading this and are not lawyers themselves.

The first is that litigation is extremely demanding. A litigator has to anticipate every possible question and answer as a good attorney does not want a question asked to which he or she doesn't already know the answer. So to Beldar's and Rob's points, she is not apt to fall on her face.

Second point- business management experience does not always coincide with being a brilliant and experienced lawyer. The experience of actually managing departments and other managers, and getting beat up by management is a great foundation to be prepared for the worst.

This is a good part as to why John Roberts did so well.

Harriet Miers will also do well.

(3) David L made the following comment | Oct 13, 2005 6:13:19 AM | Permalink

If Professor Kingsfield is not the most apt description of Senators like Arlen Spector, Dick Durbin and Oldsmobile, I suggest a better one, Bozo the Clown. Harriet Miers has faced competent legal minds in legitimate court rooms.
The Senate Judiciary Committee lacks sound legal minds.

(4) hunter made the following comment | Oct 13, 2005 8:11:19 AM | Permalink

Were these democrat Senators the same ones who crashed abd burned completely in grilling Roberts?
Yes.
And they crashed and burned, not because Roberts' answers were so brilliant but because their questions and demeanor was so dumb. In fact Roberts hardly ever had to have a comlete answer ready since they interrupted him so frequently to rail against his answers.
The real question is why does the group of mutineers have so little Harriet?
Now I guess that the foolish Senators could get their staffs to write up some nice scripted questions to make the pose they are asking her deep tough questions on Conlaw, but all she has to do is to pursue the Ginsburg/Roberts practice of non-answers.
It is nice of the nutineers to try and protect little Harriet from further embarrassment, but it is hardly credible and very demeaning.

(5) Carol Herman made the following comment | Oct 13, 2005 2:22:56 PM | Permalink

It's almost like watching a roulette wheel spinning. Or that old Clairol ad, "does she or doesn't she?"

I still think what Bush did shows him thoroughly ENGAGED in the Presidency. Where Reagan's choices of both Bork and Kennedy, came from lists he was handed.

If a lawyer does well by knowing his case, then being ENGAGED in the courtroom battles means you're getting the best lawyer possible.

Some of the punditry maneuvers on the paychecks they receive. So a lot of their commentary could be taken with a grain of salt.

As to Peggy Noonan, I just think she's envious of Harriet Miers clout IN the White House. Noonan brags a lot about being "this close" to Reagan; but she wasn't. Maybe, her feelings are as bruised and hurt as Monica's? I do not know. And, since everybody and his aunt and uncle can get some media attention knocking Miers, it's almost a wonder that Monica has lost the spotlight. Imagine what she would say if you were listening?

We're also at a point where that other moonbat, Cindy Sheehan, comes and goes in tiny bites; as she tours the country looking for republicans to visit.

This is the case against the President? Turgid water of the press. That's what all this garbage is sailing on.

And,its time to connect eyes to the jury. I think most of the American people are very supportive of the president. Maybe, ahead, someday, we will see all these signs carried by the pundits, the way we view union strikers? Doesn't stop me from crossing over the line. And, supporting the merchant.

Just as I support the President's right to pick. And, I'm glad he's changing the rules. Including the one where the staffs don't influence him with their own "lists." Hooey. Gooey. And, Phooey.

(6) Glenn made the following comment | Oct 13, 2005 4:43:51 PM | Permalink

Rob -

The entire debate is getting very nasty, and this patronizing attitude toward Ms Miers is really starting to bother me. Rich Lowery needs to resign from NRO, he's an undergrad-type hack who has zero knowledge of the law, and a petition drive needs to be started IMMEDIATELY

I completely sympathize with your position. Some of the NRO comments bring an entirely new meaning to the word "supercilious".

With that said, I suggest you read Hugh Hewitt's excellent post on why we should all take a deep breath and count backwards from 10 before we get too angry at other conservatives who, in Hugh's view, are simply wrong.

(7) Carol_Herman made the following comment | Oct 13, 2005 5:51:56 PM | Permalink

Captain's Quarters put up a blurb that Teddy Kennedy has come out and said he's supporting Kerry for the democratic 2008 nomination. They must have had a great backstage party at the last one. And, Teddy remembers the booze?

But if there's "disarry" in them there parts of the senate, I think its the democrats who better watch out for Hillary and her swinging hips. That wasn't what Bill's missus wanted to hear, ya know?

My food fight's money is on Hillary getting even. While I think Harriet Miers is going to sail to victory. As a matter of fact, up at Power Line there was some commentary that among the republican senators you can identify as "Christian Religious supporters," her votes are there!

Let's see. The MSM, with the help from pundits, seems to be hoping she withdraws, early. Doubt that she will. But then the MSM and the lobbyists are in bed together. So who know what's being bought? And, how much anger there is at Bush for being so engaged? How engaged? He didn't pick from a list handed him by staff. And, some staff can always be catered to by lobbyists.

Yup. I think Bush has changed the rules. He's even changed how Americans view their presidents. I, for one, like it that he's engaged. I think Reagan had problems because he wasn't. Was Bush the Elder? If he was, why did Rudman convince him to pick Souter? Huh? You don't pick people like that when you're engaged. And, you pick from the people you know WELL.

What does Harriet Miers have that will probably sway most Americans to her? I'm betting SPINE. How often do you see SPINE? And, how did it affect you when you saw Maggie Thatcher's? It's been awhile, huh?

(8) Neo made the following comment | Oct 13, 2005 6:41:58 PM | Permalink

I am totally amazed at the deafening silence from the "Left".

As the confirmation proceeds, all Miers has to do is make the "Right" happy with a few choice lines and ... the "Left" will fall in their face with their "Kingsfield moment."

Best of all, this confirmation has not turned into the typical call for donations by every special interest group with a presence in D.C. As the "Left" remains silent, their coffers will remain empty.

I continue to believe that the Miers confimation will go down as the biggest "bait-n-switch" since Scalia was confirmed.

(9) Pat Patterson made the following comment | Oct 13, 2005 7:33:03 PM | Permalink

My only question would be to ask how many senators have a dime in their pocket and would they know that it was a dime?

(10) Al made the following comment | Oct 13, 2005 9:19:25 PM | Permalink

Well, Senator Kennedy, you asked my opinion on the Statute of Limitations for murder, manslaughter, or vehicular homicide.

Sorry, but I can't comment on cases I'd be delighted to have come before me.

(11) Ironman made the following comment | Oct 13, 2005 10:39:23 PM | Permalink

I sense a trap. Miers will need to say more "conservative" things. Ordinarily. the Left would engage, but they always lose points that way. Chuck Schumer barely sells in upstate NY, let alone the flyover states.

No, they will let the nominee twist in the wind and then go after her double barrel at the hearings, and hope her poll standing hasn;t improved before then.

I never assume my opponents are stupid. I hope the White House isn't

(12) Geek, Esq. made the following comment | Oct 13, 2005 11:35:58 PM | Permalink

You folks think the tough questions are going to come from the Donks?

Think again.

(13) saveliberty made the following comment | Oct 14, 2005 12:23:28 AM | Permalink

Sometimes you have to laugh, part deux.

Link courtesy of Hugh Hewitt

http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2005_10_09-2005_10_15.shtml#1129053988

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