Wednesday, January 11

SENATORS PONTIFICATE FAR MORE THAN THEY INTERVIEW

I have been on both sides of the interview desk in my business career, but far more so as an interviewer than as an interviewee. I have a reputation as a sharp, formidable interviewer, but by that I don't mean to suggest that I'm impolite or overbearing. Such a posture would be counter-productive in an interview setting. The whole point of an interview is to get the individual being interviewed to talk and, provided the interviewee is staying on point, to talk, and talk, and talk some more. An interview is a search for pertinent information from which to draw conclusions, both objectively and subjectively, and to make good decisions. Questions purposefully designed to see how the individual (in a hiring setting) can handle stress are useful, but a persistent, confrontational tone accomplishes not a thing and causes the individual on the other side of the table to clam up or unravel, neither of which is an efficacious outcome.

An interviewer should pose a question and then shut-up and LISTEN.

So I find myself watching the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings on SCOTUS nominee Samuel Alito with the same consternation and incredulity that I did when now Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was facing the Democrats' buzz saw. The fact is the liberal Democratic senators on the committee have their minds made up, their questions tailored to a purposeful agenda of rebuking the nominee, and they cannot resist the temptation to pontificate ad nauseum, rather than interview and ferret out substantive information on which to base a vote and on which, before the television cameras, to give interested Americans an understanding of what makes the nominee's legal mind tick. Accordingly, the process is more a forum for political grandstanding and bloviating, than it is a meaningful process of drawing out the nominee skillfully.

The Senate Judiciary Committee proceedings are anything but dignified, as there's nothing quite so undignified as watching well-heeled senators in pinstripes coming across as self-important windbags.

For example, Senator Ted Kennedy, at his worst, is the Senate Judiciary Committee's answer to television's Andy Sipowicz; and, at his best, a veritable clown and egregious hypocrite. Indeed, the blogger Jay Tea is spot on in assessing the measure of the man who would have Samuel Alito kept off the U.S. Supreme Court.


FOLLOW-UP: Don't miss this delicious post of The Anchoress', if you have a similar fondness for Ted Kennedy, as I.

FOLLOW-UP II: John at Power Line weighs in.

FOLLOW-UP III: Here's a compelling column from Rich Galen, apropos to my comments.