"Once abolish God and the government becomes the God." -G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ragin' Kagan

We should have known the day Obama said the words "Joe Biden for vice-president" that his supreme court nominees were going to be unqualified train wrecks. True, Elena "Softball-playing-but-not-a-lesbian" Kagan is more qualified for the job she seeks than the president was when he ran for office, but he at least went out and fooled an electorate. SCOTUS nominees are supposed to earn this honor. As it now stands, Kagan will instead try to fool 51 senators.

Question: Has Obama made a confidence-inspiring appointment to any government position yet? Joe Biden notwithstanding. Let's run through some of the names. There's Hillary Clinton, who botched a reset button so badly that it galvanized Putin to pursue all Old Russia's wildest dreams. There's Tim Geithner, who couldn't figure out his own taxes but is supposed to figure out how to regulate the complicated derivatives market on Wall Street. There's Anita Dunn, who admitted her favorite political philosopher was a Communist mass murderer. And let's not forget Robert Gibbs, who might be the most childish, antagonistic, and immature man to ever "answer" questions at the White House.

I could go on. Valerie Jarrett spearheaded an effort to bring the Olympics here that somehow managed to finish last among five finalist countries. Janet Napolitano thinks every time a terrorist fails to improperly set off a bomb it is evidence that the system worked and our government thwarted an attack. Tom Daschel, scratch that, he never made it past confirmation. And Obama's Secretary of Interior was whitewater rafting the week after the BP oil spill occurred and made no effort to rush to the scene.

Anyway, you get the idea. These picks leave a lot to be desired. The SCOTUS must have been especially shocked when Obama's first appointment, Sonia Sotomayor, was tapped just after her lower court ruling was rebuked and overturned by the justices in Ricci v. DeStefano. And now Barack the Magnificent brings us Ragin' Kagan, the Harriet Miers of the Left.

Kagan seems nice enough and I understand she bats clean-up at the annual Harvard student-faculty softball game. But for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land, I'd like to think we ask for a little more than dean credentials and a .300 lifetime batting average. While President Obama's other unfortunate appointments will expire, the justices don't go away with the rest of the ideologues when voters tire of their incompetence. We're stuck with Sotomayor and Kagan forever should she win confirmation.

Let's make this simple. Elena Kagan is not even close to the most qualified candidate for this position. She's just the closest idealogue in Obama's circle that he thinks he can get away with hiring. No paper trail. No difficult to explain decisions or worrisome socialist-leaning legal papers (well not more than one). She's as blank a slate as Obama was when he ran for president. Which is exactly why she should be rejected.

Once upon a time in a different America not that far away, the most qualified judges and attorneys had to spend decades developing a legal philosophy, writing papers, and making valued constitutional decisions before appearing on a short list to be considered for the supreme court. Today, it's more like a short bus list. John Roberts was extremely qualified and shined during his Senate confirmation, but since then ideology has prevailed over jurisprudence and experience.

I doubt many would argue that there aren't at least two hundred more deserving legal minds in this country who are better prepared for this and some of those surely lean to the Left. The president should be looking to them and not trying to round out the court with a non-judicial, consensus-building professor with a disdain for military recruiting.

I'm not just being partisan here. I actually see a sliver of moderation in Kagan based on her work during the Clinton years, although it's hard to tell if she wasn't making political decisions so much as legal ones. I get the feeling that her criteria for deciding the former is much different than the latter, and she's certainly holding the latter close to the vest. But if I'm making a hire for life, and that's the bottom line here, if I'm Warren Buffet and I'm selecting the executive to run my financial empire for the next 30 years without any recourse to fire them, I'm looking for someone with more experience other than just academia. Of course, academia is the only non-government experience our president has ever known. Which is probably why everyone he hires has the feel of a nutty professor.

UPDATE: For a different perspective, you might want to read Prof. Volokh's assessment of Kagan's four major articles. He seems to think she might be the best we can get out of this president.  Crooked Timber disagrees, and one astute commenter notes an alarming statement Kagan made about free speech as Solicitor General, or at least one alarming enough to raise the eyebrows of eight of the justices in U.S. v. Stevens.

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