Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Dana Milbank’s Silly Love Letter to Lindsey Graham—Part 2


Continuing my observations (from my Part 1 post) on Dana Milbank’s wild praise for Senator Lindsey Graham:

2.  It’s certainly Graham’s prerogative to adopt a position of extensive deference to presidential nominations of Supreme Court justices and to urge his colleagues to do the same.  But beyond the fact that he shouldn’t pretend that his position is compelled by the Constitution, he also shouldn’t harbor—or try to foster—any illusions that his position is going to persuade any of the committee Democrats.  As I’ve previously explained, it’s utter folly to imagine that a strategy of unilateral disarmament is somehow going to lead to a practice of bipartisan deference to a president’s Supreme Court picks. 

Milbank reports that Democrat Dick Durbin “took Graham’s words to heart”:

“During the course of his statement,” [Durbin] said, “I reflected on some of the things that I have said and how I’ve voted in the past and thought that perhaps his statement suggested there was a better course for many of us to consider in the future.” 

Gee, I wonder whether the arch-partisan Durbin—who not only voted against both Roberts and Alito but also voted to filibuster the Alito nomination—was just pandering to Graham.  That’s a tough call, don’t you think?

It’s touching that Milbank is so smitten by Graham that he now gives the impression that he thinks that Graham’s position of deference is correct.  But I’ve uncovered no signs that Milbank had that view when the nominees were John Roberts and Samuel Alito.  And I’d be willing to bet that he won’t hold it the next time there’s a Supreme Court nominee who’s perceived to be conservative.

3.  Milbank elevates Graham by smearing his Republican colleagues.  Milbank contends that Senators Kyl, Cornyn, and Coburn “showed their contempt for President Obama and his nominee by skipping the vote” and instead having their votes cast by proxy.  What Milbank doesn’t disclose is that the markup session took nearly three hours; that Kyl, Cornyn, and Coburn attended much of it (and that Kyl and Cornyn were able to present their reasons for their vote); and that Democratic senators Feinstein and Durbin also missed the vote and had their votes cast by proxy. 

Further, Kyl, Cornyn, and Coburn—and Republican senators generally—have treated Kagan far more respectfully than Democratic senators treated Alito.  It’s nasty and baseless for Milbank to allege that their voting by proxy somehow “showed their contempt” for Obama and Kagan.


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review