QUOTE OF THE DAY…. I can appreciate the notion of conservative pundits attacking Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination aggressively, particularly on the first day. If Kagan gets off to a good start — or put another way, if there’s a “strong presumption of success” regarding her confirmation — the far-right fight will likely fizzle. It’s preferable, then, for the attack dogs to get to work quickly.
That said, the same attack dogs should try not to fly off the handle and say crazy things.
Reader F.B. alerted me to Bay Buchanan’s appearance on CNN’s “Larry King Live” last night, where it was her job to destroy Elena Kagan’s reputation. What’d Buchanan come up with? She attacked the nomination because, as she sees it, President Obama has chosen a “dumb” attorney. From the CNN transcript:
BUCHANAN: What he’s done is dummy down. He has dummied down the Supreme Court. He has given two of the best appointments of his administration to people who are not the best and the brightest. That’s unfortunate.
BLITZER: Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, both of them, everybody who has dealt with them, including their critics, say their very, very intelligent women.
BUCHANAN: Listen, Harriet Miers is an intelligent woman. She is a fine — just as fine an attorney as you could be.
Buchanan didn’t misspeak on that last point. She seriously argued that Elena Kagan would “dummy down” the U.S. Supreme Court, while Harriet Miers is “intelligent.” Indeed, Buchanan went on to tout Miers’ qualifications for the high court.
Remember, CNN actually pays Bay Buchanan money to offer political analysis on the air.
For what it’s worth, if the right is drawing up a list of concerns to emphasize about the Kagan nomination, conservatives may want to shy away from “dummy down,” Buchanan’s eloquence notwithstanding. Reagan’s solicitor general described Kagan as an “awesomely intelligent person.” Bush judicial nominee Miguel Estrada said he’s “never met a lawyer who knows Elena and is not utterly impressed by her intellect.” Former Bush Justice Department official Peter Keisler described her as “brilliant.” Former Bush OLC official Jack Goldsmith said Kagan “combines principle, pragmatism, and good judgment better than anyone I have ever met.”
Kagan may or may not be a terrific choice for the court; time will tell. But to go after her intelligence is ridiculous, even for far-right hacks.