Hmm – with the upcoming Congressional hearing on Judge John Roberts, one wonders what kind of questions will be asked of him and hope it’ll be done and over with a modicum of dignity and interest (and to end the whole speculating thing the media does so well). Bruce Reed, “The Has Been” on Slate (he’s a former Clintonite, and thus a “has been”), proposes the open-question tactic (see the 8/30/05 post in Reed’s blog):
At most, Senators have had a few weeks to prepare for Roberts. Roberts has spent 25 years preparing for them. So on all the obvious questions, Roberts has an overwhelming advantage.
But on screwball questions, that advantage disappears. The model for this line of questioning comes from the late Peter Jennings. In a televised debate during the 2004 primaries, Jennings asked John Edwards to “tell us what you know about the practice of Islam.” A thousand debate preps and murder boards could never have prepared Edwards for that question. It made for great television because neither the viewers at home nor the press corps had any idea what he would say, or even what he should say.
Under the circumstances, Edwards handled it well, admitting that “I would never claim to be an expert on Islam.” Roberts is famed for both erudition and modesty. Make him choose: Is there any topic on which he would say he’d “never claim to be an expert”?
Sure, no one prepares for the “Tell me what you know” question… (except I think Roberts might have something handy in his arsenal).
These pictures of the Gulf coast (New Orleans/Biloxi/etc) – they look so sad. “Devastation” is the word oft repeated. Best wishes out there.