Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Kagan and the civil libertarian hit squad

I wrote on Tuesday about Kagan and pointed to some of the fire she was taking from civil libertarians. I thought the criticisms were mostly over-wrought and still do. Sir Charles at Cogitamus had a good post up the other day and followed up last night,

Novel and difficult issues that have arisen in the battle with terrorism are treated as if they have but one obvious answer. Belief in a powerful executive is something to which people on the left should be uniformly opposed -- it's like FDR, Truman, and LBJ never existed -- there has only been Bush 43, who will define all politics forever evidently. (For a good opposing view on that point see this. [Thanks Corvus]) He is trashing Kagan for having the temerity to think she is worthy of the Supreme Court seat held by liberal lions Brandeis (no judicial experience), Douglas and Stevens without acknowledging that Douglas had a record thinner than Kagan's when appointed (and no judicial experience) and Stevens was a pretty conventional middle of the road Republican who voted in favor of the death penalty and sided with Rehnquist, Berger, and Stewart against affirmative action before emerging as a liberal voice later in his tenure.

He is fighting this battle as if there will be cosmic differences between a Court with a Kagan on it as opposed to Diane Wood, something that given contemporary Supreme Court battles strikes me as highly improbable.

And ultimately, political practicalities mean nothing. In Greenwald's world there is never a need to get that 60th vote, forge a coalition, move public opinion or reassure an anxious nation. That shit's for sell outs, the wets, the weak kneed, the compromised and compromising -- it's got to be balls to the wall, pure civil libertarian righteousness all down the line. Really, it gets tiresome.

Having been on the ass end of American politics for my entire adult life, I am not quite so willing to write off the one goddamned president we've ever managed to elect who is actually a bit of a liberal.

I just can't find the energy to become righteously indignant about this pick. It's a status-quo selection. Would I have preferred a fire brand liberal? Sure! But did I expect anything different? Certainly not.

Maybe I have too broad of a standard as to who is and is not acceptable as a SCOTUS nominee but Kagan seems an eminently reasonable selection. I'll save my bullets for another day, thanks.

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