Senator Herb Kohl is no moderate (his ADA rating puts him to the left of Leahy, Kerry et al.), and he tries like other Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to ask challenging questions. But because he is unfailingly polite, and tends to read his prepared questions verbatim, he is often dismissed as a lightweight.
It’s true that he doesn’t smirk theatrically, shoot his cuffs, or look around for high-fives like a Schumer. If you want someone who will bob and weave like he’s got a rabid ferret in his shirt, Kohl’s not your guy. And he isn’t as angry as a Kennedy or a Feinstein. Clearly, the man’s style sets him apart from other Democrats on the committee, where the rule seems to be if you can’t land a punch, at least bite an ear.
But when Alito is confirmed and the lefty activist groups break down the performance of their assorted bantamweight Senators, they will surely miss the effectiveness of Kohl. They will fast-forward past him, never seeing how he managed to draw out lengthy and thoughtful answers from Judge Alito, who seemed grateful to be treated with respect. They will simply conclude their putative heavyweights weren’t mean enough or hadn’t been screamed at enough on their cell phones.