Some of Jeffrey Rosen’s comments on Obama’s first nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court make me think of that:
I haven’t read enough of Sotomayor’s opinions to have a confident sense of them, nor have I talked to enough of Sotomayor’s detractors and supporters, to get a fully balanced picture of her strengths. It’s possible that the former clerks and former prosecutors I talked to have an incomplete picture of her abilities. But they’re not motivated by sour grapes or by ideological disagreement–they’d like the most intellectually powerful and politically effective liberal justice possible. And they think that Sotomayor, although personally and professionally impressive, may not meet that demanding standard. Given the stakes, the president should obviously satisfy himself that he has a complete picture before taking a gamble.
This the mirror image of a persistent gripe–especially by the likes of Ann Coulter–against Harriet Miers, i.e., that she didn’t have the intellectual horsepower to go up against her liberal counterparts. Sotomayor does address another gripe that Coulter had about Miers, i.e., she isn’t an Ivy Leaguer (Sotomayor certainly is.)
Obama is obviously unperturbed by this, and it’s part of his greater strategy. By nominating an Hispanic, he puts the Republicans in the uncomfortable position of having to oppose a representative of the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S. (unless our economy collapses and immigration becomes unattractive.) Since they’ve already botched the immigration issue, it’s another opportunity for them to fall on their sword re the Hispanics.
Beyond that, Obama’s long term strategy is to erode the rule of law in the U.S., as evidenced by the way he handled the Chrysler bondholders. By turning the judiciary into an appointed legislature, that agenda is certainly forwarded. But Saul Alinsky’s disciple will find out that eroding the rule of law blunts the use of that instrument to forward his idea (Alinsky advocated the use of the law as a means to forward a leftist agenda)–that is, if his opponents will ever see the forest for the trees.
If his opponents don’t, someone will…