The Questions I Should Have Asked

When you live in flyover country and have the opportunity to appear on cable, it lacks some of the niceties of the big city: no green room, no professional makeup artist, and sometimes you have to drive yourself to the studio through Detroit’s version of rush hour traffic (yeah, I know, no one works in this city anymore, but we’re on the rebound).

Which means you don’t get the same opportunity to compose your thoughts.

So here’s what I should have said when asked what two questions I’d ask Elena Kagan in a confirmation hearing:

  1. Do you think the President should be able to order the assassination of an American citizen with Predator drones with no due process?
  2. What sort of disclosure does your former employer Goldman Sachs owe its clients when it makes a massive bet that millions of Americans will lose their homes?
30 replies
  1. DWBartoo says:

    Well, well.

    Elena Kagan has never had my appreciation nor respect, her tenure as SG is NOTHING to brag of as Spitzer has done …

    Elliot, you’re losing whatever respect you might once have had from me …

    Marcy, considering the “venue” and Spitzer’s hard “sell”, you did well.

    You moved the discussion from the single issue, abortion, which the pundits wish to confine all opposition to Kagan’s nomination within. As you clearly conveyed, abortion rights are but a part of a much larger concern regarding Kagan’s qualifications and legal “philosophy”, which appears, based upon all evidence available, to be nonexistent.


  2. MadDog says:

    Where’s the mulligans when we really need them?

    Good questions like good answers always seem to arrive after the need for them has passed.

    As an aside, I noticed that while Dylan Ratigan said you were going to get the last word, Elliot Spitzer stole it from you.

    Being a practicing politician “in studio” with the host is another one of those advantages as opposed to being a citizen blogger speaking “remote” from flyover land.

  3. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Well, woot, Marcy!!

    I just had Ratigan on in another browser window and seeing you as a guest has absolutely ‘made my day’! What fun ;^}

    Offhand, quickie reactions from this long-time admirer of yours: it was really a breath of fresh air to see ‘Corporate Power’ raised as a topic for a SCOTUS nomination hearings. This is certainly a timely topic (!), and likely to be even moreso in coming years.

    It was great to see a civil discussion between brainy, articulate adults – I think that viewers got some good info, and the civility was wonderful.

    Spitzer always explains things well — but next time out, I want to hear you ask about Goldman Sachs. Heh ;-))

    BTW: if you caught the segment on “Funding a European Bailout”, it sure looked like Ratigan was edging toward a Howard Beale moment — jeebuz, he had Cathy Rogers McMorris (of Spokane, WA – formerly Tom Foley’s fairly conservative district) and someone from the Eastern seaboard.

    Neither of the guests appeared to have a real grasp of the nuts-and-bolts of the economic problems and the corrupt banking system they’re supposed to be addressing. Totally exasperating to watch their well-intentioned mumbo-jumbo. I don’t know how Ratigan kept from screaming at them to do their homework before they come on his show. Sheesh (!).

    You and Spitzer were clearly the more well-informed, knowledgeable guests on your segment on Ratigan’s show today. By a huge margin.

  4. PJEvans says:

    nitpicking a little here: your tag says ‘Eliot Spiter’, not ‘Eliot Spitzer’.
    Well, ‘Spiter’ might be a better description.

  5. PJEvans says:

    And there’s at least one diarist over at the Great Orange Satan who can’t tell you from Jane, and hates Jane for no apparent reason.

  6. Teddy Partridge says:

    Marcy, very well done despite the disadvantage they had you working under.

    Next time, demand a limo. Or at least a blowjob!

    • emptywheel says:

      I did ask for a driver, but NBC’s company was all booked.

      And I VERY briefly thought about saying blowjob w/Spitzer on screen, but that didn’t sound very smart for a whole list of reasons.

      • boltbrain says:

        Kind of makes one want to have been a fly on the wall during the producers’ booking discussion.

      • MadDog says:

        …And I VERY briefly thought about saying blowjob w/Spitzer on screen, but that didn’t sound very smart for a whole list of reasons.

        Heh! In my dreams, I could imagine the result.

        Elliot Spitzer’s fancy rehabilitation efforts would have definitely taken turn for the worse, but your MSNBC Purgatory sentence would have been reinstated, and perhaps even doomed you to MSNBC H-E-Double Toothpicks. *g*

      • Leen says:

        Yeah that seemed like it would have been tough to fit in even though it was Spitzer. There will be another opportunity to be sure since we have yet to witness one person held accountable for the WMD intelligence snowjob.

        Lies under oath about blowjobs = impeachment
        WMD intelligence snowjob = hundreds of thousands dead, injured, millions displaced

        Will be another opportunity

  7. pdaly says:

    Great interview notwithstanding your concerns about the lack of big city niceties.

    I thought you got the main issues across: lack of Kagan’s track record, questioning her ability to stand up against executive power grabs.

    The two questions at the end of your post should be asked at her confirmation hearings.

    In addition, everyone should grill her about her anti-Ex parte Milligan idea that the ‘whole world is the battle field’ when it comes to picking up alleged terrorists and trying them in military commissions (at least the alleged terrorists not left as smoking charcoal street shadows, as you mention in your question 1 above).

  8. pdaly says:

    smoking charcoal street shadows

    The 21st century “shadow puppets.” Someone else gets to do the talking for them.

  9. PJEvans says:

    Question #1 really needs to be asked in front of the live cameras, because it’s one that potentially affects everyone. All it takes is someone in power who decides it’s time to get even with someone else (with or without real reason)….

  10. bobschacht says:

    …Which means you don’t get the same opportunity to compose your thoughts….

    Well, your thoughts were well enough composed to make the point about Kagan’s apparent support for expansive executive powers. I’m glad that you at least put that on the table! Thanks for that.

    Bob in AZ

  11. Loo Hoo. says:

    Marcy, I really liked your last question about corporate power. Hopefully the Leahy/Feingold types will need to feel comfortable with her response. What did you make of Spitzer’s response to you on the executive power issue wrt her serving her client? Seemed reasonable to me.

      • b2020 says:

        Agreed. Watch that Feingold filiuster on Fed Audit, too…

        They all give good word. What is remarkable is how … ineffectual… they all wind up to be. You do not get seniority and chairmanship for rocking the boat, you are permitted to play an honest man on TV. The constituents expect it.

  12. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Marcy! You were great! Don’t sell yourself short. The look in your eyes and the passion in your heart compels people to listen to you without the trappings that Spitzer needs to face anyone. Spitzer and Kagan are trustafarians and members of the tribe, of course he’ll support her. I hope you get the opportunity to ask more questions.

  13. wavpeac says:

    It was a great interview. I love your very clear and concise statements on the executive power grab and corporate power.

    I was a wee disappointed that you did not work “blow job” into the discussion, but I guess I do understand why you did not. Still, I think it could have been done…You know executive power grab, like what happens when…never mind.

  14. Leen says:

    Ew you ripped. Remember seeing Jane early on on Washington Journal. She has come a long way in front of cameras from that point. You are moving along smoothly. Clear explanations and on point. You actually addressed what Dylan asked. On point

    Dylan tried to limit your focus on choice. You acknowledged those concerns and then went to “what specifically gives you anxiety”
    “blank slate” on “role of corporations”
    “executive power expansion”
    “we don’t know what Kagan is going to do”
    “she has never come strongly against the kind of executive power grab that we have seen in the last decade”

    Then Spitzer flips and contradicts himself saying that “I think it is not a blank slate. I think Elena’s position on this ideologically, intellectually are reasonably clear to folks” Then goes onto say he has been her friend for decades yet can not comment.
    Spitzer “I think she will be very good”


    “would you (Kagan) have the strength to fight against President’s Obamas grab for executive power? Would you have the strength to fight against the expansion of corporate power in this country?

    Marcy you rocked

    • Neil says:

      I think Elena’s position on this ideologically, intellectually are reasonably clear to folks” Then goes onto say he has been her friend for decades yet can not comment.

      Spitzer #fail for anyone listening to his words.

      He claims she has all the right positions, (he knows her personally… for years) but he can’t tell you what they are. so … … trust-me?


  15. b2020 says:

    I thought your opening statment was pitch-perfect, and the counters and follow-ups were very good, too. The predator line would have been nice, but I suspect most of the TV audience would not have cared one bit.

    It was interesting that Spitzer set this trap of “2 out of 3” from the final list – he did not mention Diane Wood, and it was almost a setup. But then, the only time to mention Wood would have been “Do you [Kagan] have the fortitude to stand up to Obama’s executive power grab like Diane Wood spoke out against Bush’s?”

    I found it ironic that Spitzer would re-run the “she had a client” line while talking about fortitude and lifelong appointments. Eliott, my man, we are looking for a legal mind that has the fortitude to tell her client to go fuck himself if she is asked to argue unconstitutional constructs *before* she has lifelong security. Anybody can be brave with a SCOTUS slot; nobody who didn’t show cojones before will be. Just look at the BeHolder, the new AG A-Go.

    Kagan is not going to “reach over” to bring that 5th vote, she is going let herself be pulled to be the 5th or 6th vote – and both Obama and her have an understanding regading her role and purpose. Apparatchiks recognize each other.

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