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Presidential adviser David Axelrod joked with reporters Friday about the extraordinary string of major developments — the abrupt dismissal of Gen. Stanley McChrystal and the Gulf oil spill chief among them — occupying Mr. Obama’s attention in recent weeks, all of which have helped push Miss Kagan off the front pages and out of the public eye.

“Because things have been rather dull in Washington, we’ve scheduled these Supreme Court hearings just to enliven the festivities,” Mr. Axelrod quipped.