Thursday, May 13, 2010

more on kagan . . .

I continue to have less problem with Elena Kagan than with a lot of the arguments being made on her behalf. Many of these strike me as unconvincing and carry the seeds of potentially potent opposing arguments. To wit:

1. I'm suspicious of anyone who has too many friends. Sanford Levinson, E.J. Dionne, everyone with any kind of influence seems to count her among their close personal friends. In my experience to be friendly with everyone is to be friendly with no one. Enough said.

2. I continue to be amazed by the wimpiness of conservatives in approaching this nomination. She comes from a left-wing background, wrote her thesis on socialism, and has been a loyal soldier in two liberal administrations. Yet somehow having polite conversations with conservatives, or a couple of lateral hires at Harvard, make her a moderate. Charles Fried actually said that she was a "genius" because she gave professors free lunches. Would the left support Robert Bork if he hired a few liberal law clerks?

3. I think the "stealth candidate" thing is being taken a bit far (see David Brooks in NY Times on this issue). No one seems to know her views on anything. Even her friends (see above) aren't sure about her private life. Is this the basis on which to get on a lifetime seat on the Court?

I continue to believe this is going to be a livelier confirmation process than many people think. While some Republicans will want to go along, I think their grassroots will be heavily against yet another liberal justice from New York when much of the country--including the 200 million or so who are Protestants--are effectively disenfranchised. They may not have the votes to stop it, but (unlike Sotomayor) it is a no-lose political issue for them, and I think the great majority will ultimately oppose it.

But only if they don't get free lunches.


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