Elena, We Hardly Know Ye
Everyone who knows Elena Kagan says she's a great gal. This is deemed to be a huge asset because she will supposedly charm Anthony Kennedy into doing her bidding and then the liberals will have a 5-4 majority. Strangely, though, you can't find anyone who knows what her views on the law, culture, society, morality, policy are. I suppose it's possible that she has none, but that's unlikely. You really can't reach her age without forming some opinions about the world and you can't reach her level without having any brains. So, it's likely that she's just been very, very careful not to let anyone know what she really thinks in anticipation of this day.
The thing I'm hearing the most is that she and Obama are very much alike and that they have a strong personal relationship. So, if you like Obama's worldview and governing style, you'll like Kagan. I would expect a lot of split-the-baby opinions --- and we'd best keep our hopes up that Anthony Kennedy is a lot easier to charm than the Republican congress has been.
Meanwhile,the nomination fight looks to be fairly hideous, although no one believes at this point that she won't be confirmed. Of course, considering the fact that Obama has 59 Democrats he could have confirmed Glenn Greenwald if he'd wanted to. It looks as if he just wanted to avoid a fight, which may be another trait he shares with his friend Kagan.
They're going to get one anyway, of course. She could be to the right of Jim DeMint they'd still smear her as a terrorist and bail-out loving socialist before they confirm her. The Republicans understand that these Supreme Court confirmations are important ideological battles and they relish using them for political purposes. They also have great respect for what the court can do for them over the long haul and they are willing to spill blood today for gain tomorrow. Democrats don't want to make trouble and prefer to avoid a fight. And in this case, that happens to fairly represent the president's style as well.
Let's hope it all works out. We've probably got 30 years or so to find out.
As Kevin Drum writes:
[R]ight now Obama has the biggest Democratic majority in the Senate he's ever going to have. So why not use it to ensure a solidly progressive nominee like Diane Wood instead of an ideological cipher like Kagan? . . . . When Obama compromises on something like healthcare reform, that's one thing. Politics sometimes forces tough choices on a president. But why compromise on presidential nominees? Why Ben Bernanke? Why Elena Kagan? He doesn't have to do this. Unfortunately, the most likely answer is: he does it because he wants to.
To Obama, it isn't a compromise at all. These people truly are his preference because they don't make trouble and that's what he most respects.
Update: Greenwald's already there.