“What the hell is that all about?”


There's a half-good piece in the New York Times today that looks at why so many liberals are disappointed -- some vocally, others in that resigned beaten-down way that liberals so often have -- over the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court:

In many ways, this reflects how much the nation’s long war over the judiciary has evolved since Ms. Kagan was a child. While the American left back then used the Supreme Court to promote social change in areas like religion, race and abortion, today it looks at it more as a backstop to defend those rulings. The right, on the other hand, remains aggrieved and has waged an energetic campaign to make the court an agent of change reversing some of those holdings.

Along the way, conservatives have largely succeeded in framing the debate, putting liberals on the defensive.

Liberals on the defensive? Gee, that's never happened before. Here's the money quote cited in the headline:

“Why do the conservatives always get the conservatives, but we don’t get to get the liberals?” Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, asked the Web site Politico recently, voicing the frustration of the left when Ms. Kagan was considered a front-runner but was not yet Mr. Obama’s selection. “What the hell is that all about?”

The reason I call the Times article "half-good" is that while it asks the right question, it doesn't come close to giving an answer. Ironically, I think the real answers are more to be found in the guts of this excellent column that ran elsewhere in the Times today, by the pride of Radnor, David Brooks. You should read it -- I'm hoping to riff on these issues in a post later this week.

Meanwhile, I also tackled Kagan in today's Daily News. This is my favorite issue that's been raised about her so far:

Some conservatives don't like it that Kagan didn't get her driver's license until her late 20s: Seriously! Conservative Ed Whelan, writing at the National Review Online, complained that the fact that the native of Manhattan's Upper West Side (where cars are highly impractical) didn't get her license for more than 10 years after becoming eligible "nicely captures Elena Kagan's remoteness from the lives of most Americans."