Obama is lives and breaths identity politics. It’s not hard to see why he’d pick a woman or even a lesbian for that matter. Both are great identity go getters. He throws a bone to both the NOW crowd and to the Gay/Lesbian crown (He still hasn’t done anything about DADT, how long ago was it that he promised to do something about it?), hoping to get their support for the upcoming election.
Liberals will defend Obama’s pick, because it comes from the One. For most, He can do no wrong, and therefore his pick is gold! For proof, look no further than Matt Yglasias’ (always a Democratic tool) asinine comment on twitter.
Argument will be simple: Clinton & Obama like and trust her, and most liberals (myself included) like and trust Clinton & Obama
Nothing about Constitutional views, the role of the judiciary or anything of substance. But that’s the most appealing thing about Kagan for Obama, her lack of record to pin her down too. If there was ever a SCOTUS pick that told more about the POTUS than this one…!!!
So why didn’t Obama pick Diane Wood?
The best case for Wood was made by Glenn Greenwald. I personally detest the whole notion that the Court needs “diversity”, “consensus building” or that “moving the Court to the Right” is a bad thing. Those are more ideological disagreements more than anything. In fact, that Greenwald dislikes the Kagan pick, is a point for her somewhat, in my book. Yet, from a Left standpoint, Wood would have been and is a better pick. Of course there is her nasty habit of promoting individual civil rights over the will of the State (a Classical Liberal view that I wish more Democrats still stuck too). Obama couldn’t have that now could he? Again, I think Glenn Greenwald hits closest to the mark.
If you were Barack Obama, would you want someone on the Supreme Court who has bravely insisted on the need for Constitutional limits on executive authority, resolutely condemned the use of Terrorism fear-mongering for greater government power, explicitly argued against military commissions and indefinite detention, repeatedly applied the progressive approach to interpreting the Constitution on a wide array of issues, insisted upon the need for robust transparency and checks and balances, and demonstrated a willingness to defy institutional orthodoxies even when doing so is unpopular? Of course you wouldn’t. Why would you want someone on the Court who has expressed serious Constitutional and legal doubts about your core policies? Do you think that an administration that just yesterday announced it wants legislation to dilute Miranda rights in the name of Scary Terrorists — and has seized the power to assassinate American citizens with no due process — wants someone like Diane Wood on the Supreme Court?
When it comes down to it though, no one know why except for Obama. I can’t help but think that there is something in it for him personally. The man is too full of ego and arrogance to do anything that doesn’t make him look good. Are the bones thrown to the GLBT community enough? Part of me can’t help but reflexivly not like her, the opposite of Yglasias’ arguemnt, I don’t trust Obama. The other part of me is optimisitic that Obama isn’t as smart or clever as he thinks he is.
I’m hoping Stevens’ replacement pick will come back to bite Obama. Stevens was picked by Ford but turned out to be one of the most Liberal justices on the Court. Remember Stevens gave the majority opinion on Kelo vs New Haven. Kagan’s comment on Gay Marriage and her record on workplace diversity while at Harvard, give me some hope that maybe Kagan isn’t all that Liberal. While I support Gay Marriage, I definitly don’t support the racial quota system in place. But since, those two issues will no doubt give Democrats pause, give Kagan another point in my book.