First in our new series aiming to highlight and commend partisan figures who rise above partisan pressure to do the right thing, our inaugural Transpartisan Trophy goes to Louisiana Republican Senator John Neely Kennedy, for fairly and directly highlighting the inadequate qualifications of a Trump court nominee.
Kennedy’s Transpartisan Trial for Peterson
A great way to kick off this new series, there’s a lot to like about this case. Not only so we have a Republican US Senator rising above partisan pressure to fairly lightlight the wea poor choice for a nominee to a high court, but his actions are also being dishonestly hyped by most of the stories I could find in the media (across the spectrum).
The reality here is that Louisiana Republican John Neely Kennedy merely fulfilled his constitutionally stipulated responsibility. If you didn’t know what the Constitution says the US Senate’s job here is, and just read most coverage of this in the media (even a sad amount of the coverage from regular news sites) you’d most likely get the impression that his job is merely to ask a few easy questions and rubber stamp his party’s nominee.
In a sane political world, this wouldn’t be anywhere near newsworthy or noteworthy.
Partisan & Sensationalist Media vs Transpartisan Reality
Just because someone is nominated by the President, that doesn’t mean they’re qualified for the job. We’ve seen worse cases of this from President Trump, but the issue with the Peterson nomination isn’t that he doesn’t have any legal background at all – it’s that his experience isn’t on par with what you’re looking for at the level of a US District Court judge.
Here’s a short video of the exchange – you can see that Kennedy’s questions were both topical and fair:
A number of articles (even one on Fox News) hyperbolized the questions as merely ‘basic legal questions’. They weren’t basic, but they were things that a judicial nominee at that high level should know. Strangely, Peterson even admitted that he hadn’t read federal rules of evidence since law school, which he graduated from 18 years ago. You’d think that he might have prepared for what amounts to an interview for such an amazing opportunity.
Even more articles framed the exchange as if Kennedy ‘grilled’, or was ‘bashing’, Peterson. As you can see from the video, his tone wasn’t aggressive, and the questions were topical, not attacks. It sounded like Kennedy was disappointed to me, which seems like a reasonable reaction when seeing your President send disappointingly inadequate nominees to important high offices your way for approval.
All Senator Kennedy Did Was *His Job*
After looking through some lists of his stances, Kennedy does have a moderate streak on some issues, but he is no rebel. He’s voted with Trump over 92% of the time. What he does fit into is the pattern of mainstream conservatives Republicans bucking their party’s leader, as the Trump administration keeps displaying unusually poor decisionmaking.
The only reason this was even news is because the last generation of American politics has reached new low after new low so many times that what would have been normal a couple decades back equals ‘bashing’ now. What we could use is less actual bashing, less partisan insiders nominated for jobs they aren’t qualified for, less hyperbolic media sensationalism and more politicians doing their jobs – like Kennedy did here.