Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spring Traditions

It's starting to look like bruising Supreme Court nomination fights are becoming something of a tradition around this administration.  With Justice Stevens looking to retire as soon as this year, the White House is gearing up to try to shepherd another nominee through the Senate.

Unlike Sonia Sotomayor's replacement of David Souter, Stevens has become the leader of the liberal wing of the court, and the GOP will do everything possible to stop any nomination that isn't a hard-core conservative idealogue in order to try to tilt the court over the edge to the right and start rolling back the last 100 years of social precedent.

The name most being mentioned as Obama's nominee to replace Stevens is the current Solicitor General, Elana Kagan.
Kagan comes armed with a formidable set of credentials: Associate White House Counsel during the Clinton Administration; Professor and then Dean of Harvard Law School; and now, Solicitor General of the United States, the appointee tasked with representing the U.S. Government in cases before the Supreme Court.

At Harvard, Kagan forged a reputation for herself as a savvy consensus-builder, uniting a fractious faculty divided along ideological lines.

"She has a terrific political sense," says Charles Fried, Professor at Harvard Law School and Solicitor General in the Reagan administration. "She knows how to frame issues so that people see things her way."

Her interpersonal political prowess shone through in a law school then plagued by inertia.

"The faculty had been divided politically on left-right grounds and had difficulty making [faculty] appointments," explains Harvard Professor Mark Tushnet. "But she was able to break the logjam by explaining to people that the law school was stagnating and that it could move forward only if it overcame these issues."

On a fractured Court with an ascendant right wing, her capacity for persuasive diplomacy could prove pivotal.
Equally in Kagan's favor is the absence of a potentially compromising legal paper trail. In the wake of a bruising health care debate, it's likely that President Obama will want to minimize the amount of political capital he expends on a Supreme Court nominee.

"Kagan is unique in that, like Justice John Roberts, she's universally respected but hasn't written on divisive topics that could make confirmation difficult," says University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Theodore Ruger.

Kagan, 49, also has youth on her side. Opting for a young Supreme Court nominee has traditionally allowed a President to extend his influence beyond his term in office and cement his political legacy, a trend that arguably started with President Reagan's appointment of Antonin Scalia, who was 50 at the time of his nomination to the bench.
Kagan's success story at Harvard Law School is certainly notable, but the GOP will attack her as a brutal Socialist rubber-stamper of Obama diktat and demand her head anyway, helpfully suggesting a list of candidates to the right of Scalia and Thomas as a starting point.  It will be a test of just how far the GOP is willing to go as the Party of No.

I Must Be Missing Something

CNN helpfully reminds us that there are "lifelong" Democrats out there who are joining the Tea Party movement.

Ann Ducket attended the Tea Party rally in Grand Junction, Colorado, on Wednesday.

A lawyer and lifelong Democrat, Ducket made her political leanings clear: She said she was a campus community organizer for Democratic Sen. George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign, voted for Jimmy Carter and Al Gore, and previously ran for elective office in Colorado as a Democrat.

"I was a card-carrying member of the ACLU, and I probably did inhale in college," Ducket said.

Ducket, who is now an independent and did not vote for Obama, said the president has "carried things to an extreme."

"I think we've gone too far on the side of government doing too much," Ducket said. "The Democratic Party is wanting to take care of everyone, instead of helping everybody stand on their own two feet."
McGovern, Carter, Gore, ran as a Dem...but didn't vote for Obama in 2008.  Maybe I'm missing something profound here, but if you've been checking the D box for a good 30 plus years and then George W. Bush shows up and completely wrecks the country on top of that, what in your right mind would cause you to not vote for Obama?

You voted for McGovern because he wanted out of an unjust, costly, bloody Vietnam.  You know that our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are dying, and you knew this was a war that didn't have to happen.  You see Bush sink trillions into this quagmire and you see our smart bombs kill thousands of civilians.  You see Dubya and McCain, and Iraq and Afghanistan, and you see in 2008 your choices.  You vote...against Obama.

You voted for Jimmy Carter because he made the hard choices for getting the US economy back on track after inflation, which later got blown all to hell again after Reagan's tax cuts.  You see Bush's 43's tax cuts and Medicare craziness, and his plan to privatize Social Security and the 2007-2008 financial meltdown that we'll be paying for basically for the rest of our lives.  You vote...against Obama.

You voted for Al Gore, ostensibly because you KNEW George W. Bush was going to find a way to screw up the country.  You trusted Clinton and while he made mistakes, the country was doing well.  We had a surplus working.  Gore lost in 2000 to Bush...that's a pretty nasty wound there for any Dem to have lived through, I know.  In 2008 you see Bush and McCain, and the profligate spending that destroyed our country's economy.  You vote...against Obama.

And I'm just shaking my head.  Because on top of all this, you go to the Tea Parties and proclaim that the problem here over the last 35 years is one Barack Obama.

I'm searching for that profundity, that great insight into why you would arrive at this.  I'm not seeing the logic here at all.  And that deeply saddens me, because what I do see is the obvious difference between Obama and all 43 of his Presidential predecessors, and I'm really hoping that's not the reason we have "lifelong" Democrats voting against Obama.

But logically, there's just not much else left, is there?
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