Saturday, May 8, 2010

Obama Surrending to the Bullies. Again

“Democrats need to pull themselves together, do the right thing, and then confidently sell what they have done to the American people, not give in to the fear mongering.” -- Mike Lux

That's not easy when the leader of your party constantly sends a message of appeasement.


There's a lot of talk today about the White House settling on Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court, along with some fairly alarming reports that she didn't care about diversity when she was the dean of Harvard Law. This doesn't speak well of her, especially since she is such a blank slate that such actions tend to be the only clues we have about her worldview. (I have assumed that if Obama ends up nominating her we will know for sure that he's decided to run for the hills in anticipation of a right wing surge, which only means he's decided on appeasement rather than leadership. Surprise.)

This, however, makes me wonder if she wasn't highly recommended by the people the administration most wants to please ....

Yes, it looks like the next person to sit in the Supreme Court seat distinguished for three-quarters of a century by Liberal Lions William O. Douglas and John Paul Stevens will be Madame Justice from Goldman Sachs. Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas are going to love her.

Digby again:

Update: So I'm told by various people that Kagan is the only confirmable possibility. I would love to know why that should be true. The Republicans have had little trouble since Bork confirming far right federalist society clones, whether they had a Democratic or Republican Senate. It doesn't seem logical to me that there isn't room for an unabashed liberal on the court with a 59 vote majority in the Senate.

Kagan is an unknown quantity, unlike Roberts and Alito who were clearly both conservative a highly political. Yet Bush managed to get them confirmed. I guess I just don't understand the double standard when it comes to Democrats and I refuse to capitulate to the common wisdom that says no Democratic president can ever confirm a known liberal.

Moreover, I think Supreme Court confirmation battles are ideologically instructive for the nation and are one of the few times when it's possible for people to speak at length about their philosophical worldview. Liberals have to stop running from this. Allowing the other side to define us is killing us.

There are a lot of people who have misgivings over Kagan and I think they're worth listening to. I don't know if she is conservative or not. Nobody does. But somebody who has reached her level and hasn't staked out a clear position is worrisome.

I'd really like to see Obama nominate one of the liberals and have real fight over it going into the election. I don't know why everyone assumes that we will always lose but it's certain that we will if we don't try.

Read the whole thing.

Meanwhile, Kevin Drum considers Kagan's lack of record and decides she might actually be more difficult to confirm than "known liberal" (but actual moderate) Diane Wood:

Diane Wood would get attacked too, of course, but Adler argues that her vulnerabilities — "a handful of opinions concerning abortion and religious liberty, and perhaps a criminal case or two" — are strictly "day one" problems. I agree. Everyone knows that Wood is liberal, and everyone knows that Obama isn't going to nominate someone who isn't a liberal. So although a few liberal rulings will provoke the usual outcry from the usual suspects, it just isn't likely to have much traction. There are no surprises there. With Kagan we can't be sure of that.

Now, I agree with Adler that both Wood and Kagan are likely to be confirmed, so this is hardly a definitive reason to reject either one. But Kagan does strike me as a bit riskier, and it's hard to figure out why you'd nominate someone who's both riskier and has such an aggressively ambiguous record on almost everything of importance. This is one of the main reasons why I think Obama would be better off nominating Diane Wood, who has a clear and invigorating record on a wide variety of progressive issues and boasts a highly respected academic background.

Drum concludes with one of the weekend's more depressing grafs:

Kagan is pretty obviously qualified in all the usual ways, so if Obama nominates her I'm not going to go ballistic over it.

No offense, Kevin, but this is exactly why Democrats keep getting rolled by even the most grossly incompetent republicans in the history of the republic: because they settle for anything that's not radically reactionary, while repugs refuse to accept anything but the radically reactionary.

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