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Sheldon Whitehouse Does Glenn Beck

Sheldon Whitehouse Does Glenn Beck
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Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse speaks when Judge Amy Coney Barrett appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee on day two of her confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill, Oct. 13.



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kevin dietsch/pool/Shutterstock

Viewers of cable TV might recall when Glenn Beck would get out the chalkboard after the financial panic and lay out in astonishing detail the multiple and supposedly nefarious connections among

Goldman Sachs,

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and various others in the vast Wall Street conspiracy. Mr. Beck has retreated to the internet as far as we know, but American politics has found his spiritual doppleganger in Sheldon Whitehouse.

The Rhode Island Senator had 30 minutes to question Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Tuesday, but he failed to ask anything. He devoted his time instead to a Glenn Beck-style tutorial on the vast right-wing conspiracy that is supposedly buying the federal courts.

Sheldon the Vampire Slayer had names and props and numbers and arrows—all in the service of his theory that Leonard Leo, formerly of the Federalist Society, and a financial network have secretly schemed for decades to nominate Judge Barrett. This followed Mr. Leo’s dastardly and heretofore unknown manipulative success in getting Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh on the High Court. Congrats, Mr. Leo.

Like all obsessives, Mr. Whitehouse has a single theory that explains everything: “dark money.” Thus the supposed connections between Mr. Leo and this group or that group, all flowing inevitably back somehow to, wait for it, the Koch brothers. “Something is not right around the Court, and dark money has a lot to do with it,” he said.

You have to love that use of the vague “something.” We haven’t seen such a weird performance since Mr. Whitehouse attempted to find the hidden messages in Justice Kavanaugh’s high-school yearbook at his confirmation hearing.

Mr. Whitehouse had the bad luck to be followed by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who related Mr. Whitehouse’s ties to such Democratic dark-money operations as Demand Justice and Arabella Advisors. Demand Justice is among the progressive outfits demanding that Democrats pack the Supreme Court with new Justices if they win the Senate. Arabella funds a variety of left-wing political groups that in turn fund Democrats. But Arabella doesn’t disclose its financial donors.

Mr. Cruz’s rebuttal won’t stop Mr. Whitehouse, whose goal is to delegitimize the current Supreme Court in the eyes of the public. Recall how he and other Democrats threatened to restructure the Supreme Court if the Justices ruled the wrong way in a gun-rights case. He wants to intimidate the Justices into voting his way or, failing that, prepare the political ground for Court-packing. We’re not sure what Judge Barrett made of the political antics, but we trust she’ll ignore it all after she’s confirmed as soon as the Senate can hold a vote.

As Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing gets underway, Joe Biden still won’t say whether he supports adding Justices to the Supreme Court. Image: AP/Zuma Press Composite: Mark Kelly

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Appeared in the October 14, 2020, print edition.



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