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Congress: GOP's plan of attack on Kagan

The New York Times looks at the GOP playbook on SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan. “After weeks of lying low, Republicans on Wednesday began stepping up their attacks on Elena Kagan, and are laying the groundwork to oppose her confirmation to the Supreme Court by casting her as a partisan Democrat who has spent more time practicing politics than law.”

"Outside groups with a stake in who sits on the Supreme Court are hoping that Senate confirmation hearings of Elena Kagan will energize their supporters and capture the attention of a public focused on other matters," Roll Call writes. "So far, the lead-up to the Senate deliberations, scheduled to begin next week, has been a bit of a snooze, overshadowed by headline-grabbing events such as the BP oil spill and dogged by the perception that Republicans don’t have the votes to block Kagan’s confirmation. But leaders of conservative groups who oppose Kagan, in particular, say that both the Judiciary Committee hearings and full Senate debate have the potential to be a wake-up call by highlighting damaging information that could sink her confirmation."

Roll Call's lead story is on Joe Barton: "Apologizing is en vogue in Washington, D.C., these days. But whether it’s a widely respected military leader or a conservative GOP lawmaker under fire over controversial statements, 'I’m sorry' doesn’t always work out in the end."

The New York Times editorial: "House Republicans had their chance to do the right thing and remove Joe Barton as the ranking Republican on the energy committee. Instead, they applauded him. After Mr. Barton tried apologizing again before his party’s private caucus, John Boehner, the Republican leader, said 'the issue is closed.' Mr. Boehner showed his clear loyalties -- protecting party hacks and the oil industry -- when he decided that Mr. Barton should keep his central role in the Republican Party’s energy policy. Mr. Boehner cited Mr. Barton’s 'poor choice of words,' as if it were an oratorical gaffe and not a glimpse at deeper outrage that government dared to call Big Oil to account."

"If gaffes were a legitimate reason to resign, Vice President Joe Biden would already be out of office, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor said Thursday," The Hill reports. Eric Cantor: "If the standard for resignation was a YouTube moment or an inappropriate statement, wouldn't you think the vice president would be handing in his letters twice a week?" (It all depends on your definition of "gaffe," we suppose; what Barton said was in his prepared remarks.)