I didn't write a word about the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation all last week, probably because there was really nothing newsworthy going on in those hearings. The pontificators, better known as your U.S. Senate members, would have probably given me a headache if I'd listened to any of their inane and clumsily constructed interrogations - if you closed your eyes while listening to them, you probably would have concluded that you were listening to an Eastern bloc tribunal holding a kangaroo court.
Which is why I was exasperated when my buddy called me Friday to blow his top over the other hearings going on, the one that was focused on Henry Paulson and his role in the takeover of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America.
I had been sitting outside at a Wendy's restaurant at lunchtime, dipping my spoon into a half melted Frosty while I perused the New York Times, when he called.
"Why are we doing this?" my buddy wailed. "The man did what he had to do. What we wanted him to do. And now we are going to drag him through a hearing? Our country has got to grow up."
I'd been in the middle of a pretty good parody of the Sotomayor hearings by Gail Collins, a pretty good column for her given her uneven track record of producing less than scintillating articles, so I said the first thing that came to mind. "Next week, Paulson will still be rich. And nobody will care. I mean, think about it - when was the last time a Congressional hearing really DID anything?"
My buddy was still upset by the way Paulson was being treated, though. A man of means himself, he often seems to see these kind of efforts as a waste of time for people like him. We went back and forth for a minute over why this was happening as I forlornly watched the rest of my Frosty that I'd sat squarely in the middle of the Times Op-Ed section melt into a chocolate liquid.
"Dude, its a show. They'll yell at Paulson through their microphones for awhile, and he'll whimper a little bit to show he's contrite, and after they've gotten all that into the official record, everybody will go home, will go back to whatever it was they were doing before."
My buddy had calmed down some, but he was still a little testy. "Official record? It's called transparency. That's what our government is built on."
Now it was my turn to get hot under the collar. "Transparency in our government? Are you serious? You've got bills passing that nobody fully understands until they're published, when all of the backdoor deals come to light. You've got guys issuing press releases that say the exact opposite of what really took place. This is why the internet is so hot - because the conversation we're having out here in cyberspace bridges the gap between the fiction our government wants us to believe and the things we know are true."
I saw somewhere in the New York Times or on CNN that five hundred and ninety three questions were asked of Sotomayor last week. Five hundred and ninety three questions about nothing, nothing but the petty insecurities of men who really don't represent anybody but themselves, nothing but the display of deeply flawed psyches and tired ass rhetoric that these people continue to spout even as the real world has moved on.
Did any of these clowns really think that a battle hardened minority professional would wilt before their gazes, as if the bullshit they've put up with their entire lives because they look different or have a different racial heritage was some sort of adolescent hazing, to be endured for a few days here and there whenever they were advancing through life? Could they really expect someone who has lived with intense scrutiny day and night ever since she left the familiar confines of her beloved Bronx neighborhood to have a "meltdown", as if they were some privileged scion who had ascended to a governorship of a small southern state practically unscathed by by anything harsher than a hangnail, the kind of guy who could not keep his emotions in check when the chips were down?
Our government has been run mostly by ego centered, tantrum throwing tenderfoots for centuries, people whose ire rises at the slightest personal injustice. People who believe in government transparency about as much as you believe there is a man in the moon.
When we really learn how to use the power of the internet, we'll do more than just buy stuff on EBay with it. We may actually, for the first time in history, begin to see what really goes on in Washington. And we might actually get some representation that remembers what they really were elected to go the Capitol to do.