Streetcar Line

Obama’s Hackneyed Hypocrisy

Nonsense from the Kagan roll-out.

By 5.13.10

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Who the hell does Barack Obama, this morally preening, arrogant hypocrite, think he is? His vacuous, demagogic shtick about helping the "people" fight "the powerful" is getting so old from his lips, and already was so hackneyed even before he expropriated it, that it's a miracle that even he himself can say it anymore without getting nauseated by his own oleaginous triteness.

Obama spewed the same old effluvia Monday when introducing Elena Kagan as his nominee for the Supreme Court. Let us count the inanities and dishonesties in his introductory remarks:

"Behind law there are stories -- stories of people's lives as shaped by the law, stories of people's lives as might be changed by the law…" Of course, here he is quoting Kagan herself, but it's still absurd. Of course the law affects people's lives: That's why we have elections to choose legislators to write the laws, and it's why we give trial judges at least a modicum of discretion in meting out sentences when laws are violated. But even that discretion is governed by the laws as laid out by the legislative process. The appeals courts exist to ensure that those laws are applied the same way to every litigant regardless of what their personal stories are, not because of their personal stories.

"During her time in this office, she's repeatedly defended the rights of shareholders and ordinary citizens against unscrupulous corporations." What nonsense. A corporation is a set of shareholders. When a corporation pays a judgment, its shareholders are the ones who pay. When the corporation loses money, it is the shareholders who lose the money. When a lawsuit supposedly on behalf of shareholders is successful, the "payout" gets taken from the corporate accounts, which devalues the stock of, yes, the shareholders themselves. Setting the shareholders against the corporation is asking Peter to fight not Paul, but Peter himself. It's like boxing one's own image in a mirror -- except that when you throw a punch, both the mirror and the puncher get hurt. So too in any match between a corporation and its shareholders: It's nothing more than self-mutilation.

"In a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens." This is a truism. Too bad he doesn't abide by it. Barack Obama has spent his whole adult life doing the bidding of powerful interests. At Harvard, that bastion of the powerful elite, he kissed up to enough factions to become president of the law review while actually writing next to nothing. In Chicago, he settled in tony Hyde Park with the help of a highly suspect sweetheart deal on his property, got an adjunct gig at the powerful University of Chicago, cultivated leftist elitists like Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn who sat on wealthy nonprofit boards, and chose the church of the wild and hateful Rev. Jeremiah Wright because it gave him a powerful entrée into the poor black community that he otherwise would lack if he spent all his time in Hyde Park. He himself noted that he didn't really join a church until he appreciated "the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change." This all was of a piece with his training as an acolyte of Saul Alinsky, who taught that power is its own justification. In the state legislature, Obama became a creature of powerful party leader and eventual Senate President Emil Jones. As Senator and president, he has consistently sided with the most powerful interests in his party, almost never lifting a finger without the approval of the powerful labor bosses (SEIU President Andy Stern was the first year's most frequent outside visitor to the White House) or of the plaintiffs' attorney lobby. He negotiated in secret with the pharmaceutical lobby; he was the second biggest campaign contribution recipient from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac sources, which helps explain why Fannie and Freddie keep getting more taxpayer loot while Obama's administration cracks down on everyone else. Of course, Obama also is all too cozy with the only major investment bank that made out like a bandit in the past several years, Goldman Sachs. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens were ignored, steamrolled over, insulted, and threatened while Obamacare was passed by hook and crook.

Then again, it is beyond obnoxiousness, especially by means of judges whose powers are designed to be limited, for denizens of Hyde Park and New York's Upper West Side by way of the Harvard dean's office, to even pretend to have special insight into, and power to determine, what is in the best interests of those Kagan called "the despised and disadvantaged." The Obamites are the people who savaged "Joe the Plumber," and this is the president who while campaigning claimed that a preference for limited government was merely the province of those who "get bitter [and] cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Barack Obama posing as the representative of the people against the powerful is like Tiger Woods feigning virginity while crusading against promiscuity.

Finally on the absurd-o-meter, Obama said that Kagan's confirmation would create "a court that would be more inclusive, more representative, more reflective of us as a people than ever before." Huh? It would mean that every single justice is a product of either Harvard Law or Yale Law. It would mean the last three appointees were undergraduate alumni of Princeton. It would mean that both of Obama's appointees were women who grew up in New York City, as did the only other woman on the court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Two other justices were born in nearby Trenton, New Jersey.) It would mean there is not a single Protestant on the court, only one southerner, and only two who attended undergraduate school away from the Northeastern seaboard.

In truth, none of this should matter: Quality and qualifications are a matter neither of geography nor religion, and bean-counting-identity-politics by arbitrary criteria should be anathema in a republic. But if Obama is going to try to sell Kagan on such flimsy criteria, the least he could do is to choose criteria that aren't so self-evidently untrue. Kagan would make this court not "more reflective of us as a people than ever before," but instead even more reflective of cloistered, supercilious, East Coast academia.

Then again, that's a perfect reflection of Obama's whole political milieu: East Coast academia, married to Chicago-style power politics rampant with rank dishonesty, backed by demagogic nonsense. Here's hoping all good Americans keep clinging to guns and religion, and to our American limited-government traditions, while focusing our antipathies in a way that keeps these dangerous Obamites at bay.

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About the Author
Quin Hillyer is a senior editor of The American Spectator and a senior fellow at the Center for Individual Freedom. Follow him on Twitter @QuinHillyer.