The video for this story is not available, but you can still read the transcript below.
No image

Brooks, Marcus Mull Court Politics, Health Care Reform

Columnists Ruth Marcus and David Brooks discuss top political news, including next week's hearings on Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination, the pace of health care reform and President Obama's trip abroad.

Read the Full Transcript

  • JIM LEHRER:

    And now to the analysis of Brooks and Marcus, New York Times columnist David Brooks, Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus. Mark Shields is away tonight.

    David, how do you see the Sotomayor hearings playing out?

    DAVID BROOKS, columnist, New York Times: I guess the way Tom Goldstein and Amy Walter just described it. I don't see much there. And people have looked, as Goldstein said, for weeks and months. And when you read the opinions, even if you read it from a non-legal perspective, they seem very dry, very fact-oriented, very detailed, sort of deracinated. There's not a lot of radicalism there, so not a lot to attack.

    Now, having said all that, the fact that we all say that — at least I think that; I don't know what Ruth thinks — maybe that means we're all bound to be wrong, because maybe she'll say something or David Cone, the former Mets and Yankees pitcher who's going to testify on her behalf or appear on her behalf, will say something, or Frank Ricci, the New Haven firefighter who's going to be against her, something is bound to happen, because it can't be as smooth as we all anticipate.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Do you agree, it can't be that smooth, Ruth?

  • RUTH MARCUS, Washington Post:

    Well, I don't think it's going to be as smooth as David thinks it's going to be, but I also don't think we're going to have some kind of Clarence Thomas-like bombshell, either.

    There is, as Amy Walter said — Amy Walter said the Republicans might want to keep their powder dry and wait until the next one. They don't have a lot of powder; it's a pretty thin case.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    About her, you mean?

  • RUTH MARCUS:

    About her.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Yes.

  • RUTH MARCUS:

    It's a pretty thin case to try to go against Judge Sotomayor, as David has said, and they haven't really gotten traction with any of their arguments.

    Nonetheless, I'm actually not convinced that's going to stop them. Senator Sessions, who's the new ranking member of the committee, said in an interview that he didn't think her confirmation was a foregone conclusion. I think he's wrong about that, but I think that that's a signal that there is going to be a lot of fireworks before the inevitable conclusion, which is that she'll be confirmed.

    And I think the thing that I will be most interested in is whether, in this new line-up of the committee, with Senator Specter, who we're always used to looking at as the Republican who might defect, with him having already defected to the other side, will it be a party-line vote against her and for her? Or will there be some mix-up? And I think that will be the interesting question.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Do you agree, there's a possibility of a mix-up? Or is it going to be strictly party line?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Well, she is quite liberal, and so I suspect there will be a lot of opposition on those grounds. But to get a real — to shake things up, they really have to get beyond the fact that she's quite liberal. It has to get to some realm of activism, something that engages the public mind.

    So I would suspect, because of her liberalism, it will be more like a party-line vote than not. I doubt it will be a unanimous vote or even close to that. But that doesn't mean it will be a close vote.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Do you think filibuster is off the table?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    I would think so. You know, and part of it — you know, you just get the vibe in the conservative world. There are some people who do this for a living. They're focused on this.

    But I would say most conservative talk radio, most conservative politicians, there's other things they're worried about. They're worried about health care; they're worried about taxes, deficits. There's a lot else going on. And so there really hasn't been the focus among the activist community there might otherwise be.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Speaking of a lot of things going on — that's called a segue in television…

  • RUTH MARCUS:

    Very elegant.