Published June 29, 2010
He's good enough, he's smart enough, but doggone it — he just can't keep his eyes open for Senate confirmation hearings.
Al Franken, the onetime comedian and current Democratic senator from Minnesota, used his position on the vaunted Judiciary Committee on Tuesday to doodle a lifelike bust of Sen. Jeff Sessions, the committee's ranking Republican, as Sessions raked Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan over the coals.
Live video from Senate chambers shows a woozy Franken getting some much-needed shuteye as Kagan explains her intellectual approach to life and teachings in her opening statement to the Senate.
But Franken, the most junior member of the Judiciary Committee, had already been forced to sit through an endless round of statements from his senior colleagues on the 19-member panel as they droned on and on and on in the crowded Washington chamber.
When it finally came time for Kagan herself to speak, Franken had apparently had enough.
"I've learned that we make progress by listening to each other," said Kagan hopefully, as Franken slowly closed his eyes and appeared to doze off.
"I've learned that we come closest to getting things right when we approach every person and every issue with an open mind," she said, Franken now apparently lost to the living.
Kagan herself has expressed a profound scorn for Senate confirmation hearings, which she described as empty "lessons of cynicism" — a "vapid and hollow charade" that replace important legal discussions with repetitive platitudes.
It is unclear whether Franken shares that sentiment about the hearings or was simply bored by the proceedings. Sen. Franken's office did not return calls or e-mails seeking comment.
Kagan's questioning will continue for a third day on Thursday morning.