The political left and the pretenders at centrism enter the Elena Kagan fray kvetching about her … ambiguity.
First, there’s the New York Times editorial ominously titled “Searching for Elena Kagan”:
But where, precisely, has Ms. Kagan been during the legal whirlwinds of the last few years, as issues like executive power, same-sex marriage, the rights of the accused and proper application of the death penalty have raged through the courts? As dean of the Harvard Law School, she spoke out against the military’s discrimination against gay and lesbian soldiers, but many students and professors there have expressed chagrin that she did not take a more forceful stance. And she has stated that “there is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage.” Her positions on other current issues are either unclear — or possibly to the right of Justice Stevens.
Translation: We can’t tell if she’s liberal enough. That’s so frustrating!
And then there’s the pretenders Brooks and Frum. Is it safe to dislike something the president is doing or being? The New York Times doesn’t like the president’s actions? Whew! It’s safe to have a “dissenting opinion.”
First, David Brooks, since we’re at the New York Times:
Tom Goldstein, the publisher of the highly influential SCOTUSblog, has described Kagan as “extraordinarily — almost artistically — careful. I don’t know anyone who has had a conversation with her in which she expressed a personal conviction on a question of constitutional law in the past decade.”
Her publication record is scant and carefully nonideological. She has published five scholarly review articles, mostly on administrative law and the First Amendment. These articles were mostly on technical and procedural issues.
Writing at CNN, David Frum criticizes Obama’s leadership style:
Obama leads from the rear. He acts only after the call for action has become a clamor.
Frum doesn’t mention Kagan in his description of the gutless commander he describes, but some liberals feel just that way about President Obama’s choice of Elena Kagan.
I find the criticism about Elena Kagan’s lack of a paper trail amusing. Where were these people when people were trying to find something out about Barack Obama?
As Philip Klein and I’ve noted, President Obama picked a candidate exactly like himself. Klein writes:
In Elena Kagan, who is just one year apart from him in age, Obama has found somebody whose biography, temperament, and values (as far as they are known) closely resemble his own.
Like Obama, Kagan graduated Harvard Law School and taught law at the University of Chicago. Look into the backgrounds of Obama and Kagan, and you’ll find evidence of radicalism that was tempered by personal ambition. Obama served as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review and Kagan was the school’s first female dean, and they both had a reputation for treating conservatives fairly, despite ideological disagreements. Just as Obama ran for president on a thin public record, Kagan doesn’t offer much of a paper trail, leaving her views on many key issues open to speculation.
The left had no problem with President Obama’s thin resume because they believed him to be a progressive, which he is. And even if he weren’t, well, he’s a Democrat who can get elected, and anyway, it’s the presidency. The Supreme Court, however, is forever, and the libs want to make sure that Kagan is sufficiently left ideologically that they can be sure she’ll vote a certain way on certain issues. We’ll see how hard they pursue potential sources of information. We’ll see if the left is concerned about her ethics.
I also wonder why the left even feigns disgruntlement. I mean, really. Would they ever put their principles ahead of expediency ever? Would the left, in a show of discontent and frustration, push back against their godly leader while he sits astride the gleaming unicorn? Doubtful.
It is unimaginable that the left would ever push back against their own president, as the right did against President Bush over Harriet Miers. Wouldn’t happen. Won’t happen. They’ll complain and then they’ll submit, because ultimately, they know that the key factor for any leftist is to not believe anything.
And on that score, Kagan seems perfect. A leftist, first and foremost, must have an unfixed value system. There is no question, after her argument before the Supreme Court, that she views the Constitution and precedent to mean whatever she believes it means.
Elena Kagan will look at each case through her own lens. She will not contemplate the founders or other judges or what’s gone before. She will contemplate each case from her own perspective. The world according to Elena Kagan — whatever that means.
Liberals shouldn’t complain that they don’t know what Elena Kagan believes. With their worldview, that’s a perk not a problem. It’s a perfect situation for President Obama — if she doesn’t deliver, he’ll just shrug and claim ignorance. And the incurious press and codependent left won’t have anyone to blame either. They feign interest because they must, but it’s all empty naval-gazing.
Elena Kagan will not be blocked by worried Democrats. She’ll scarcely be questioned by them. Elena Kagan will be confirmed just as President Obama got elected — ambiguous and amorphous. That’s the way leftists like it.