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Henry on the Hearings: Opening Statements and Counting Sheep

Henry the intern will be providing commentary on the John Roberts confirmation hearings throughout the day. The top entry is the most recent installment. All highlights in order after the jump.


UPDATE 3:48PM

3:01 -- Nancy Grace's show begins. "Let's go right back in," she says.

3:03 -- Coburn: "I find it somewhat amusing that we can predict your life expectancy. . . I am a physician." He breaks into tears: "My heart breaks for less divisiveness, less partisanship."

3:10 -- Lugar arrives to introduce Roberts. What is up --literally-- with his eyebrows? He reads a brief biography of Roberts. "Simply put, John Roberts is a brilliant lawyer," Lugar says. Roberts appears to be getting emotional.

3:18 -- Warner: "I find this a singular privilege."

3:20 --Warner recalls that he was taken by the "erect man" when he first spotted Roberts. It was love at first sight, indeed.

3:26 -- Roberts finally speaks. He is smiling widely and displaying the strict composure of Condi Rice. His eyes beam as if reading an imaginary TelePrompTer. "I come before the committee with no agenda. I have no agenda," he says. "But I do have a commitment [to] confront every case with an open mind."

3:33 -- Specter: "Thank you for that very profound statement. . . That concludes our hearing."

Chronological updates:

12:05 -- Specter invokes Bork, then predicts Roberts will be in charge beyond 2040. . . In a nod to Roberts' good looks, says perhaps the Supreme Court proceedings should be televised. Roberts stays serenely stoic. . . Specter will not divulge his vote on Roberts, but says he will not ask whether Roberts would overturn Roe v. Wade. . . Specter: "We are concerned about what your views are today contrasted with what they are in the future.". . . Specter garners laughter for saying "that's it" when his ten minutes runs out.

12:14 -- Leahy drags on. . . "We the people, We the people. . . You're the first nominee of the 21st century. . . You could serve for the administrations of the next 7 or 8 presidents."

12:22 -- Hatch is up. . . We yawn, and Court TV abruptly breaks to commercials.

12:26 -- Committee members each have a bottle of water with a blue label. What does that mean?

12:28 -- Roberts is getting a little itchy. Is he counting sheep?

12:30 -- Hatch admits that he watched C-SPAN's recent marathon of old confirmation hearings.

12:34 -- A guy sitting behind Kennedy appears to be chewing tobacco or a giant Starburst. "The people have a right to know whether their government will promote their interests, not the special interests. . . [Your qualifications] do not end the responsibility of inquiry. . . It is our duty to ask questions on behalf of the American people and speak for them." Kennedy says he has issues with Roberts' record and with the administration's unwillingness to release all related documents.

12:43 -- Grassley: "You are the first nominee of the Internet age," mentions "by-the-minute" blogs and their inaccuracies. "You just happen to be the latest victim of such scrutiny."

12:48 -- Roberts' eyes have been moving around wildly.

12:50 -- Court TV anchor interrupts Grassley's "strong statement of support" to talk to star law professor Alan Dershowitz, who calls out senators for hypocrisy when talking about judicial activism and judicial restraint.

12:54 -- Biden begins his time with animated hand gestures. If Dershowitz would shut up, we would know the senator was saying.

12:56 -- Court TV hits a commercial break.

1:02 -- Back to the hearing. Biden is hostile. He quotes Roberts saying gender discrimination is "merely a perceived problem." Biden threatens, "If I look only at what you've said and written, I would have to vote no." Biden says this is "the moment" for explanations.

1:05 -- Kyl praises Roberts.

1:13 -- Kohl: "Your decisions. . . will be the final word on the rights and freedoms of Americans for decades to come."

1:15 -- Court TV turns to Ken Starr for analysis: "I think caution and prudence is in order on the part of the Senate." Dershowitz dismisses the hearings as "puffery" written by aides and designed for the evening news.

2:17 -- Graham has a news flash for Roberts: "We're here to talk about you." Specter is shown picking at his nails.

2:26 -- Schumer talks of "awesome not in the way my teenage daught would use the word, but in the biblical sense." His riddle: "Are you within the mainstream. . . or an ideologue?" Schumer wonders what lies in Roberts' deep waters: "We all know it is the ice beneath the surface that can sink the ship." Schumer stretches this mainstream versus ideologue conundrum for his whole ten minutes.

2:36 -- Cornyn has another news flash: "Of course this isn't an election."

2:43 -- Cornyn seems attracted to Roberts, but restrains himself: "Just because we're curious doesn't mean our curiosity should be satisfied. . . Don't take the bait, do not head down that road." Graham, sitting nearby, is chewing gum and looking at the ceiling.

2:51 -- Durbin: "I hope [the results] will be positive."

2:53 -- Brownback: "I hope we're done before my birthday ends." Roberts initiates the singing of "Happy birthday."

3:01 -- Nancy Grace's show begins. "Let's go right back in," she says.

3:03 -- Coburn: "I find it somewhat amusing that we can predict your life expectancy. . . I am a physician." He breaks into tears: "My heart breaks for less divisiveness, less partisanship."

3:10 -- Lugar arrives to introduce Roberts. What is up --literally-- with his eyebrows? He reads a brief biography of Roberts. "Simply put, John Roberts is a brilliant lawyer," Lugar says. Roberts appears to be getting emotional.

3:18 -- Warner: "I find this a singular privilege."

3:20 --Warner recalls that he was taken by the "erect man" when he first spotted Roberts. It was love at first sight, indeed.

3:26 -- Roberts finally speaks. He is smiling widely and displaying the strict composure of Condi Rice. His eyes beam as if reading an imaginary TelePrompTer. "I come before the committee with no agenda. I have no agenda," he says. "But I do have a commitment [to] confront every case with an open mind."

3:33 -- Specter: "Thank you for that very profound statement. . . That concludes our hearing."

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