Those of you who read our extensive liveblogging of Monica Goodling’s testimony on Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee know how deeply impressed we were.
Goodling was poised, intelligent, and articulate. She showed flashes of wit, as well as consistent honesty and forthrightness. She looked like a million bucks.
On a scale of 0 to 10, we’d score Monica Goodling’s performance on Capitol Hill as a 9.3. It wasn’t a perfect 10; Rep. Artur Davis landed a few punches in the eleventh round. But Monica “Hurts So” Goodling ultimately emerged victorious from the boxing ring of the Rayburn House Office Building, with barely a glove laid on her.
We weren’t alone in our assessment. Distinguished legal commentators, including law professors like Orin Kerr and Adam Gershowitz, also raved over La Goodling’s star turn.
And this morning, via Howard Bashman, we come across more praise of Goodling, from an unlikely source. Check out this great online essay (registration required), by Eve Fairbanks of The New Republic — no bastion of conservatism.
Discussion continues after the jump.
(Yeah, we know, TNR isn’t as consistently liberal as it used to be. But our point is that it’s no National Review.)
Fairbanks begins the piece as follows:
I get to the House Judiciary Committee room 20 minutes before ex-Department of Justice White House liaison Monica Goodling’s hearing is set to begin, and the place is already a madhouse…. Amid the chaos, a committee aide shoves me into a standing-room slot beside a gleeful, obese television producer. He is bellowing into his BlackBerry. “The news from the witness room,” he says, “is that they removed the box of tissues from the witness stand!”
So somebody thought poor Monica Goodling was going to cry during her testimony. No surprise there. During the U.S. attorney scandal’s long unraveling, the 33-year-old Regent Law School grad has developed a pitiable [reputation for fragility].
Those who were expecting a teary breakdown on the witness stand, however, were doomed to disappointment:
[T]he sad truth is that Goodling–the shlump everybody, from Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty to low-level political appointees to the New York Times editorial page loved to blame–was more impressive in her hearing than the attorney general and his former chief of staff combined. Which isn’t to say she was enlightening–after leaving the hearing, I still don’t know why most of the eight U.S. attorneys were fired. But unlike Alberto “I don’t recall” Gonzales and Kyle “I failed” Sampson, she was on topic and willing to point the finger.
Credentials snobs, take note. Goodling, the Regent Law graduate, outperformed Alberto Gonzales, a Harvard Law grad and former Biglaw partner, and D. Kyle Sampson, a Chicago Law grad and former federal appeals court clerk.
She answered yes or no questions with yeses and nos. She had witty moments — responding to freshman Democrat Steve Cohen’s question about the large number of Regents graduates working in the Bush administration, she said “I think we have a lot more people from Harvard and Yale.” She even assumed the look of an embarrassed church girl when the House Republicans took their duty to protect and defend her to comic levels. During his questioning, Republican Darrell Issa–who competed with Dan Lungren and James Sensenbrenner for the prince-on-a-white-steed-here-to-rescue-Monica role–bellowed, “[Y]ou chose to be non-partisan very often.” Goodling flushed and smiled a sad little smile.
“I’m afraid I don’t have a comment on that,” she said.
Goodling was very well prepared by her excellent counsel, John Dowd (former boss of the Akin Gump Escort). We imagine that she spent weeks getting ready for her appearance, like a Supreme Court nominee cramming for confirmation hearings. She probably spent hours and hours being grilled by Dowd and his associates in mock testimony, like a SCOTUS nominee being interrogated by so-called “murder boards.”
And in the end, Monica Goodling was vindicated. This is a story with a moral: diligence pays dividends. The hard work and preparation skills that fueled her meteoric rise through the legal profession — from a fourth-tier law school to the Office of the Attorney General, zooming past countless Ivy League graduates — once again paid off for Monica Goodling.
Monica Goodling’s Not Totally Botched Testimony [TNR Online]