Friday, May 14, 2010

White House Provides "Interview" of Elena Kagan **UPDATED**

Oh, this is rich, In yet another breach of protocol, the White House has crafted an interview with SCOTUS Nominee, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, as this article highlights, Kagan’s Video on White House Blog.

What's wrong with that, one might ask? Well, this:
White Houses usually keep their Supreme Court nominees under wraps, shunning all interviews. With Elena Kagan, the Obama White House made an exception.

It interviewed her, itself. And in keeping with its habit of using online tools to talk about various policy matters, the White House staff posted her remarks on the official in-house blog.

And here it is, if you care to watch it:

The article continues:
Not surprisingly, there were no questions about her views on abortion, or executive power, or affirmative action, or any of the other hot-button issues that conservatives and liberals alike would love to hear her address. Rather, the video is a bland, overly scripted take on a woman who, by all accounts, is warm, funny and engaging.

Ms. Kagan did allow one bit of humor to slip in, though. In describing her current job, as solicitor general, she said, “Nobody knows quite what that means. Some people think it’s the people who put the labels on the cigarette packages.’’

In fact, the solicitor general argues cases on behalf of the government before the Supreme Court. Ms. Kagan will be continue to hold the title, but from here on out she will focus exclusively on getting confirmed. That begins Wednesday, when she will go to Capitol Hill for her first round of meetings with senators, who will ultimately decide whether she gets the job.

Say, whaaaa? There were no tough questions from some White House staffer, someone who makes videos. Well, color me so surprised at that. I imagine had they wanted real questions asked of Solicitor General Kagan, they would have allowed real journalists (okay, what passes for them these days) to interview her. Except that would have been breaking with protocol, which this White House never does (that was snark).

All of that is to say, there is much we don't know about SG Kagan yet. That's exactly why there are hearings for positions of this magnitude. From what I have seen of her resume, it is impressive indeed. I am withholding further judgment until I know more about her. And while her resume is impressive, it is a resume. And a resume is not the same as a paper trail or a judicial record. The latter is a concern for many, as this poll indicates, Polls: Judicial Experience Matters:
If the Senate confirms Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, there will be three female justices on the court for the the first time, no Protestant justices on the court for the first time, and, for the first time in nearly four decades, a justice would join the court with no experience as a judge.

How will Americans react?

Recent polls indicate that Ms. Kagan’s gender and religion will have little effect on Americans’ support for her nomination. In polls by Gallup, ABC News/Washington Post and Fox News, broad majorities of Americans said that the next justice’s gender or religion did not matter to them.

Her lack of experience as a judge, however, could prove problematic in the court of public opinion.

In the ABC/Post poll, 70 percent said experience as a judge would be a factor in favoring a Supreme Court nominee, including 52 percent who said it was a strong factor. And in the Fox News poll, 76 percent of voters said that when selecting a new justice, whether he or she has served as a judge should be a factor, including 20 percent who said it should be the single most important factor.

While it is not a requirement that a nominee for the Supreme Court has served as a judge, it is helpful to have access to decisions rendered. (Click Here to read the rest of the article, and HERE to see the full results of the poll.)

And now, the White House has put the kabosh on SG Kagan's family being interviewed, too, Want to Talk to Kagan’s Family? Permission Denied. Such a big ol' surprise from the Obama team. I mean, really - they gave everyone that cute little video to watch? Why the heck would they need to talk to Kagan's family, too, right? Oh, sure:
White Houses traditionally put a muzzle on their Supreme Court nominees, to keep them from saying anything that might jeopardize Senate confirmation. But the Obama White House has taken it one step further. It is limiting, if not blocking, access to the nominee’s family.

The New York Times received permission on Tuesday from Hunter College High School in Manhattan, Elena Kagan’s alma mater, to observe a constitutional law class there taught by her brother Irving. We thought it would be intriguing to watch the give and take between Mr. Kagan, who is known as a passionate and interactive educator, and his students on his first day back after witnessing his sister’s nomination in Washington.

Mr. Kagan, who is also a Hunter alumnus, did not have a problem with the idea, a school spokeswoman said, but she added that all media requests now had to be given final approval by the White House. The times were tentatively set: there was either an 8:52 a.m. class or a 9:36 a.m. class on Wednesday. “I thought it would have been great,” said the spokeswoman, Meredith Halpern.

But when presented with the idea, the White House balked.

Wait, is the author (Sharon Otterman)trying to claim that the "Most Transparent Administration In The Universe" would be trying to keep information away from the people? I think the answer to that is a resounding YES:
Joshua Earnest, a White House spokesman, said that the administration was “uncomfortable with the idea at this time.” The White House called Hunter, and Ms. Halpern said later Tuesday it could not permit the class observation. A formal proposal has been submitted to the White House, which the administration requested. They asked that it outline the intent and goal of the article in significant detail.

A cousin of Ms. Kagan, Gail Katz-James of Minneapolis, was quoted in a profile in The Times the day after the president announced the nomination. She described the “verbal sparring” around the dinner table in the Kagans’ Upper West Side apartment, saying that the family “just really enjoyed debating and discussing everything.”

But two days after the article appeared, when contacted again by the same reporter from The Times, Ms. Katz-James said: “I’m sorry. I’m not able to talk to you.” She was asked if the White House had directed her not to talk to the press. “Nope,” she said, and hung up the phone.

Golly gee - not to be the suspicious type or anything, but isn't that just a tad curious? They give us this slow pitch softball interview, then refuse to even allow family members to be asked about their experience of SG Kagan? Wowie zowie.

Remind me of the definition of "transparent" again, would you? I'm sure the White House would be happy to give me their version, but I'm thinking that might not match reality...

**UPDATED** Since I wrote this post, new information has come out about SG Kagan. One is her college thesis which discussed her thoughts on Socialism, and the other is a paper she wrote in 1996 entitled (h/t SFIndie), "Private Speech, Public Purpose: The Role Of Governmental Motive In First Amendment Doctrine. It has some interesting passages in it, that's for sure.

But get this. Wanna guess whose transcripts from Law School are available?? That's right, Kagan's. You cannot see Obama's, mind you, even though every other president has had to make their records public, but you can see hers!! I guess that's something...


SFIndie said...

I'm back! For the moment, Google believes I am who I say I am. We'll see how long THAT lasts!

So, I just don't know what to make of SG Kagan. I found this:

"In a 1996 paper, 'Private Speech, Public Purpose: The Role of Governmental Motive in First Amendment Doctrine', Kagan argued it may be proper to suppress speech because it is offensive to society or to the government."

Not crazy about the "suppression of free speech" because it may be "offensive to the government". Too much like the Whiner in Chief moaning and groaning about all the lies people tell about him, poor baby. Blech.

Also, in her undergraduate thesis, she apparently wrote about the decline of socialism in the country as “sad” for those who still hope to “change America.” (from Florida Pundit) Great, a socialist on the Supreme Court.

I hold out no hope, however, that Congress will question her very extensively. There isn't anyone with a backbone left.

I bought a couple lotto tickets...

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

WOOHOO!!!! Glad to see yo, SF!

I just saw abt the undergrad thesis a little while ago. Of course, that wasn't out when I actually wrote this piece. Anywho, once I saw the theme of her thesis, it made instant sense to me why Obama picked her.

I had not seen that she wanted to suppress free speech. She knows that is a Constitutional right, correct?? Holy smokes.

Well, I said I was going to wait to pass judgment on whether or not she is a good choice, and these kinds of revelations sure skew my impression to the negative side.


Yeah, I'll be buying some for tomorrow, too.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

I should add, at least with her college thesis, I can see Ann Althouse's logic that it was college, after all, and hopefully, she has grown some over the years. Who knows?

Oh, get this - HER law school transcripts are available. Obama's? Nope.

SFIndie said...

Yeah, one never knows if the opinions in a college thesis were just the naive musings of a student or the foundation for a belief system that has grown stronger. Want to take bets on whether or not any of our fearless Senators will ask about that? Nope, didn't think so.

Seems like EVERYONE's past is an open book except for the Secret Keeper. And one in the media mentions that. Where have all the Walter Cronkites gone???

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

That's an excellent question, SF - where are all of the Cronkite types indeed? When I saw the article abt the transcripts, that was my FIRST thought. I glanced through a few of the comments there, and sure enough, someone else mentioned it.

So why are we, just plain old citizens, seemingly more aware of this discrepancy than the people PAID to be aware of these things? Shesh.

And I will not take that bet, thank ya kindly. I'd rather keep my money in my pocket. :=)