Fox News, right-wing talk-show hosts, Republican candidates and some members of Congress conspire to make crazy talk appear to represent mainstream American thinking. The Kagan confirmation hearings have become a vehicle for Republicans who make a grand pretense of examining nominee Kagan’s qualifications. And elsewhere on the political spectrum we are reminded that no position is too stupid or detestable not to find expression in some public forum.

Minority members of the Judiciary Committee repeat the same questions endlessly in an effort designed to appeal to their base rather than to determine the nominee’s judicial philosophy. And they try to elicit her feelings about matters unlikely to ever come before the court. Senator Coburn, striving in what he undoubtedly thought was a clever way to air conservative views about the role of government, asked how Kagan would feel if a law were passed requiring people to eat two servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

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