In order to become a Supreme Court justice, a nominee must perform a series of grueling challenges: he or she has to do all the hard work to even be considered in the first place, of course, and then he or she has to quietly endure the Senate and press as they freak out over select quotes from ancient opinions or speeches the nominee made years ago, and then, before the nominee ever makes it to confirmation hearings, he or she must visit with a huge number of influential lawmakers and act perky throughout this interminable series of meetings.
Sonia Sotomayor proved her worthiness yesterday by visiting nine senators on the Hill, meeting with them each one by one (except for the two-senator contingent from New York, which met with her in a single hour-and-a-quarter-long session). And in surviving this ordeal, she proved that, if nothing else, she has the stamina to withstand sustained exposure to such insufferable blowhards as Chuck Schumer and Jeff Sessions.
You might wonder what these folks would have to talk about in these very brief meetings, and whether anybody would have a chance to cover issues of substance, such as whether the judge's taste in food would unduly influence her decisions. Apparently the answer -- at least historically -- is yes. It actually doesn't take more than 45 minutes or so for a senator to see into a Supreme Court nominee's soul.
Remember Harriet Miers, the unfortunate lawyer to whom George Bush was unspeakably cruel by nominating her for a position that was way out of her depth? Miers' Supreme Court nomination sank rapidly after senators emerged underwhelmed from their one-on-one meetings with her:
[T]he lawmakers didn’t feel she had the intellectual weight or experience to merit a lifetime appointment to the high court. That, coupled with an aggressive Internet campaign by liberal and conservative opponents, quickly brought the nomination down.
Poor blameless Harriet Miers, with her awful blue suit, consigned forever to history's dustbin. WIll Sotomayor follow in those footsteps?
Looks like no. Early reviews suggest she made it out of her marathon schmoozefest alive, with Democrats saying she was brilliant and Republicans saying they'd have to read her 3,600 legal opinions before they passed definitive judgment.
So if this Obama nominee turns out to have a clean tax record (and that's a big "if" for Obama nominees) and no glaring criminal defects, chances are she'll make it to confirmation hearings, at least. But for today, she deserves a big gold star just for sitting through all those terrible meetings.