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Holder Confirmation Coasts Through Afternoon Session

WASHINGTON -- The afternoon session at the nomination hearing for Attorney General-designee Eric Holder, Jr. ebbed more than it flowed. The passion and intensity and drama that marked the morning session were clearly gone from the historic room.

Several of the Republican senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee tried to pin the nominee down on a number of decidedly B-List topics. For example, Sen Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) made it clear that he wants the new Justice Department to support gun rights and the recent Supreme Court decision in Heller v. DC as vigorously as the old one did.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) made it clear that he doesn't want any of the Guantanamo Bay detainees in his backyard at Leavenworth prison.

And Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) tried to finagle his way into getting an answer from Holder on a law-school-qua-Jack-Bauer hypothetical about water-boarding and a bomb. Holder didn't take the bait—he's no Jack Bauer.

None of these sideshow issues are going to materially impact Holder's nomination. Even Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the longstanding Committee member with impeccable conservative credentials, expressed his support for Holder's nomination.

The Democrats on the Committee, meanwhile, asked more questions about the U.S. Attorney scandal and the dubious conduct of former Justice Department official Bradley Schlozman, a partisan hack who cannot be happy with the day's events. He now knows that the new leaders at his old Department are going to look again into his conduct at the Civil Rights Division at Justice.

There were jokes and smiles about Holder's children and grandchildren. There were jokes about Sen. Coburn's singing prowess - something to do with "Rocket Man" and through it all there was Holder, calmly answering questions.

Over and over again, for example, he talked about his willingness to cooperate with the Congress and to learn from the expertise of the Committee members on topics like detainee rights and other terror-law-related issues. It's been a hearing that's very different in tone and tenor from the last two Attorney General hearings before this same Committee.

Read more coverage of the hearings from Cohen.>

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