Given the sorry state of most commercial journalism in this country … both print and broadcast … I often turn to stories about (and views of others concerning) the good ol’ US of A as found in the foreign press.

My latest intercontinental information-seeking has been highlighted by the farce called a “confirmation” hearing for Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s appointment to the US Supreme Court.

Overseas media largely have seen that political circus as a national embarrassment. Which it truly was. Never have so many said so much about so little would be my appraisal.

Here we are after a week of faux questions and faux answers. As a result of that daily puppet theater, do you have any better understanding of the appointee? Aside from besting a bunch of showboaters in verbal ping pong, do you know more about her judicial temperament? Is she where she is because of some affirmative action allocation at her law school years ago or because she has a good legal mind and fought her way professionally to the top like her peers?

We know an awful lot about a group of preening senators … more than we need to know … but not much more about the nominee than when the process began.

Often pointed to in the foreign press as the chief embarrassment among inquisitors has been Sen. Sessions of Alabama. He sits now on at the right hand of the Senate Judiciary committee chairman as ranking Republican. But his first experience with that committee came some years ago when, as a hopeful appointee to the federal bench, he was refused confirmation because, among other things, he was a racist. After listening to him hogging the spotlight for five days, it appears he still is. Even the National Bar Association wouldn’t support his nomination.

Honest liberal or honest conservative, the fact remains no one on that committee has interviewed a more experienced, literate or qualified appointee than Sonya Sotomayor. Period. It’s also safe to say they don’t know much more about her now than they did going in.

Some committee Republicans seem hellbent on ignoring her superb qualifications and will vote against her on nothing more than their own ignorance and a play for folks at home.

They have no idea how she feels about abortion, a subject that should have never come up. But some will vote “no” because “she supports Row vs Wade.” Funny. She never said.

Others have pigeonholed her as anti-gun and the ever-lovin’ National Rifle Association is beating the drums and passing out the bucks. Funny. She never gave a position on gun “rights.”

I don’t know how she’ll turn out as a supreme court justice. But it’s safe to say she has already achieved a level of judicial competence beyond that of any recent nominee. And there have been a few good ones.

This sorry episode is just the latest in many that, to folks living in other lands, makes them wonder how we have survived these 230 years or so. They often ask journalistically, “Why don’t you operate on the same sort of “vote of confidence” system we do?”

Frankly, it’s episodes like the Sotomayor “hearing” that makes me wonder the same thing.

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