10 May 2010

Obama Shifts Court to the Right

So, Obama plans to nominate Elana Kagan to replace Justice Stevens on the Supreme Court. Kagan is better than we would have gotten from John McCain; but, then again, Stevens would likely not have retired had McCain been president. But from the allegedly "progressive" Obama, Kagan is a poor choice. While The New York Times uses the words "pragmatist" and "progressive" to describe Kagan, it is not clear what they know that the rest of us don't. She may well be an opportunist; her record, to be polite, is troubling. In particular, she demonstrates no willingness to confront, let alone attempt to rein in, executive power [1] [2].

From my perspective, it is not difficult to see what Obama hopes to gain. The notion that he is courting Republican votes in the Senate by appointing a 'moderate' is a joke. The Republicans are pretty much unwilling to cooperate on any issue. Given their inevitable resistance, so the reasoning goes, he ought to have gone ahead and appointed a progressive or even a real pragmatist. That, of course assumes, he is being strategic here and not simply appointing his ideal candidate. He is doing the latter. This appointment should lay to rest any suspicion (hope?) that Obama is anything other than what he is - a center-right opportunist [3]. Having set the agenda, conservatives should, if not celebrate, at least be smugly satisfied.

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