It’s hard to find fault with anything he’s saying here and that’s really depressing. The whole thing is worth reading.
It’s anything but surprising that President Obama has chosen Elena Kagan to replace John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. Nothing is a better fit for this White House than a blank slate, institution-loyal, seemingly principle-free careerist who spent the last 15 months as the Obama administration’s lawyer vigorously defending every one of his assertions of extremely broad executive authority. The Obama administration is filled to the brim with exactly such individuals — as is reflected by its actions and policies — and this is just one more to add to the pile. The fact that she’ll be replacing someone like John Paul Stevens and likely sitting on the Supreme Court for the next three decades or so makes it much more consequential than most, but it is not a departure from the standard Obama approach.
The New York Times this morning reports that “Mr. Obama effectively framed the choice so that he could seemingly take the middle road by picking Ms. Kagan, who correctly or not was viewed as ideologically between Judge Wood on the left and Judge Garland in the center.” That’s consummate Barack Obama. The Right appoints people like John Roberts and Sam Alito, with long and clear records of what they believe because they’re eager to publicly defend their judicial philosophy and have the Court reflect their values. Beltway Democrats do the opposite: the last thing they want is to defend what progressives have always claimed is their worldview, either because they fear the debate or because they don’t really believe those things, so the path that enables them to avoid confrontation of ideas is always the most attractive, even if it risks moving the Court to the Right.
What are Obama’s core beliefs? What are the actions he has taken to demonstrate his belief in them? If the answer isn’t “Core values are not worth fighting for if it might be politically difficult or otherwise bad for your poll numbers” then I’m fucked if I know.
Looks like it’s time to cull the ol’ google reader a bit; can’t have this kind of shit infecting my reading habits. I don’t have a real strong opinion on Kagan to this point but Yglesias is talking a bunch of shit. Yeah hey, let’s act like fucking Sarah Palin voters who form our opinions by choosing to feel the same way as politicians we feel a personal connection with! Hey while we’re at it why don’t we just base our voting decisions on the political affiliation of our favorite sports and entertainment surrogate daddy figures? (And what happens if two of our Daddies disagree with each other, what are we supposed to think then?) I’ve heard these arguments on the merits of the nominee herself about how Rehnquist and Warren and so and so didn’t have prior judicial experience and that doesn’t mean she isn’t qualified but where’s the part where someone explains to me how she is qualified? So far it seems like the only concrete statement on offer is in opposition to gay marriage — good thing James Doty is there to point out that if you turn your head sideways and squint just right it sort’ve might look like she was just “describing the current state of the law” when she said “there is no federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage.” Because hey, when I say there is no such thing as Santa Claus maybe I’m just describing the current state of my living room yknow? I mean she didn’t say there never could be! This statement is ambiguous and prone for interpretation! I’ll stop now, I think the It has been sufficiently Layed On Thick. (and by the by if not having been a judge in the past is a qualification for SCOTUS in and of itself then sign me up and let’s get to work on that whole maximum wage thing. )
If you’ll permit me to go British for a second here: bollocks. Absolute bollocks. I’ve had enough of the attempts among our tribe to replicate the amazing and lasting success of the Bush personality cult. Like Greenwald is saying, if the President is actually a liberal (or isn’t but wants to throw a bone to liberals regardless) then he should nominate Wood and let her speak her mind. (And if he isn’t interested in at least throwing liberals a bone then fuck him! I’m a liberal, you want my vote you deliver the goods or you fuck off. For Christ’s Sake, this is not particularly complicated, enough with the “guy I’d love to have a beer with” bullshit celebrity approach to politics.) You talk to the average person on the street and what you find out is they’re still pretty pissed at the Republicans for that whole Bush thing but they’re pretty goddamned tired of the amazing spineless Democrat exhibit as well. When people get the impression that both parties are equally full of careerist corporate whores which one is going to sound more attractive? One set of corporate whores says what they stand for loudly, clearly and repeatedly. The other set of corporate whores would really like to stand up for what they’re pretty sure they’ve done a convincing job of acting like they believe if only governing with control of both houses, a Senate supermajority and the presidency wasn’t so darn hard.
UPDATE. How has “liberal” become a dirty word? Suppose it had anything to do with the (allegedly) liberal party being afraid to even call themselves that or stand up for ideas that are branded that way? The Democrats are always thinking short-term, always afraid of the Republicans’ superior talent with messaging and branding, always playing small ball and trying to fit some halfassed quasi-liberal mutant bastard child legislation like the healthcare mess under the radar. Give enough away to the corporations that they won’t crush us, compromise the bill enough that hopefully people will stop realizing the Republicans are calling it mean liberal names, and… well, the liberals can go fuck themselves of course, I mean who else are they gonna vote for, the Greens? Amirite? Ha ha ha, show me some!
UPDATE UPDATE Seriously though, how ’bout one day they put that whole “They have better messaging, we have better policy” thing when their mouths are and just ram through some actually liberal legislation after forcefully advocating it, ram through a liberal-ass supreme court judge who’ll be a little more inclined toward human-friendly rulings, use the fucking L word and stop giving people the impression that “Well, even the Democrats are afraid to act too liberal / they know these policies are too liberal so they’re trying to go trojan horse on our asses / etc.” Actually improve peoples’ lives and then bust out a messaging campaign on something like “The Republicans say this is socialism. We say your take-home pay is up, you have health insurance and your kids can go to college. Are you better off now than you were before we took office?” Use the majorities you have to ram through some campaign finance reform to slow down the corporate money and take advantage of the groundswell of public support to drown out the campaign ads. Horse-whip any Blue Dog motherfucker who tries to throw a monkey wrench in the gears. Tell him he’s fucking dead to the party if he doesn’t get in line and if he wants to pull some party-switching stunt he’s welcome to be on the wrong side of the aisle after you ram through a bunch of middle-class friendly legislation in reconciliation. You have 9 other senators in your pocket who’re going to follow you? Do they have a plan to outmaneuver the dead-ass-simple story we’re about to start telling about the self-interested careerist senators who decided he’d rather line up with the corporations when we tried to institute the living wage/universal health care/wall street regulation with real teeth/wtfever? Yeah, didn’t think so.
This isn’t fucking rocket science, it just takes some balls and some pols who care at least marginally more about making a difference than they do about lining up a cushy lobbying job for when their term expires. Hell when I look at it in these terms I’m almost ready to vote Republican myself outt’ve spite … maybe that’s going too far, but I am frustrated with them to the point of being pretty much checked out on this stuff for the first time in … dunno. Many years.
UPDATE UPDATE SHITLOAD OF WORDS UPDATE And one more thing on Yglesias: Great, “most liberals” trust Obama. (Is that even true? Source?) Now what about the other 70 percent of the country? The nominee doesn’t have to be a flaming liberal but there has to be some kind of argument beyond “trust Obama! He’s swell!” if this isn’t going to turn into the liberal equivalent of that giant Harriet Miers clusterfuck.
(you think Greenwald cares if I rip off his schtick? ehh he’ll never notice)