Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kagan. Day One

Day one of the questioning, that is.  Just two quick notes for now...

First of all, I try to keep up with all the wacky ideas out there, from all factions and fringes of the political culture.  From the Tea Party crowd I know the arguments for why income taxes are theft, why the ACA individual mandate is unconstitutional, and why direct election of Senators ruined the republic...but I have to say that the flat-out attack on precedent was a new one for me.  For those not watching carefully, and for those who were wondering what Tom Coburn was talking about in his questioning today, please see this op-ed by Senator Jim DeMint declaring that he opposes Elena Kagan's confirmation on the basis of her commitment to respecting precedent.  It's true, of course, that liberals spent much of the last decade increasingly clinging to stare decisis, so I'm not exactly surprised.  But as Coburn and DeMint tell it, it sounds less like a case of pragmatic adjustment on questions of procedure than the direct election of Senators thing, a principled-but-ignorant, well, wacky idea. 

(By the way, Senator Coburn: exactly how is allowing for a federal minimum wage responsible for budget deficits?  Oh, never mind).

Second thing...I'll continue live-tweeting tomorrow, at least through the first round of questions.  I hope those who are following it enjoy it.  I also recommend Adam Serwer and Dahlia Lithwick, who I think are giving somewhat more substantive tweeting coverage than I am -- although I'm the only one who noted that shell have to recuse herself from any cases with robot litigants.  I like think that I'm fairly good at judging how these things are playing, but in this case...well, my wife grew up about six blocks from where Kagan grew up; my dad's from the Bronx; and, overall, I may be a westerner, but Upper West Side New York Jewish sensibilities aren't exactly foreign to me.  In other words, while I think she's doing amazingly well as far as the theater of it is concerned, but I have no sense at all of how her humor and attitude would play in Michigan, or North Carolina, or Iowa (where, I'm told, they just really love Chuck Grassley.  Go figure).  So I'll be looking out for some coverage from people as unlike me as possible, just to get a reality check.


  1. I think people west of the Hudson tend to be tuning it out, what with the second straight NYC --> Princeton --> Harvard/Yale woman. And unlike Sotomayor, she's a perfectly unremarkable careerist Democratic mainstream nominee who checked all the right moderate-conservative boxes and will obviously be confirmed. No one - no one - other than those with an abiding interest in such things is paying attention, and I'm not sure why you'd think they are. And those people likely aren't in it for the general impressions. Had it been Wood, you'd likely have much of Chicago and a lot of people down your way in the Republic of Texas paying attention, but that's not the direction they went. They went with the most boring, conventional possible nominee to avoid a big fight, which is perfectly fine, but that means that no one is paying any attention. Or maybe it's just me who feels that way.

  2. Fair enough -- I certainly agree that the ratings must be tiny, and those who are watching are committed partisans, on both sides. Probably mostly liberals. OTOH, libs haven't exactly been enthusiastic about her going in, as you indicate -- even in the small numbers we're talking about, there are still quite a few political activists, many of them on the fence about whether Obama sold them out or not with this pick, and I'm curious about their reactions. Not saying that it's important, just that I'm curious about it.

  3. Michael:

    They went with the most boring, conventional possible nominee . . .

    But how pleasant it is that such a thing can be said of a Jew replacing the last Protestant on the Court. In the light of history it's a momentous event, and the more so for being barely remarked upon.

  4. How is it momentous? Not the first Jew, not the first woman, not the first Jewish woman. We're supposed to get excited by pure anti-Protestantism?


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