The Spectacle Blog

Re: Kmiec and Obama

By on 3.24.08 | 11:36AM

Kmiec's endorsement is another example of what I discussed last week in relation to Andrew Bacevich's attempt to make the conservative case for Obama (or at least the paleo one). Obama's lofty rhetoric and ability to respectfully summarize the arguments of his ideological opponents, combined with his thin public record, allow people from all ideological stripes to see what they want to in Obama, even if their perception is at odds with reality.

After explaining his views on the judiciary and his support for a Supreme Court that keeps "within its limited judicial role," Kmiec writes that he supports Obama because he is "convinced based upon his public pronouncements and his personal writing that on each of these questions he is not closed to understanding opposing points of view, and as best as it is humanly possible, he will respect and accommodate them." But the problem is, there is nothing in Obama's actions to support Kmiec's claim.

A perfect example is how Obama handled John Roberts's nomination to the Court. In a high-minded speech, Obama began by stating, "there is absolutely no doubt in my mind Judge Roberts is qualified to sit on the highest court in the land." He went on to praise Roberts effusively, only to explain--in a roundabout way--that he was voting against Roberts purely on ideological grounds. Or as Obama put it, he rejected Roberts because he theorized that 5 percent of cases, the really difficult ones, would be decided "on the basis of one's deepest values, one's core concerns, one's broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one's empathy." And at the end of the day, Roberts didn't share his liberal values. Either that, or Obama didn't have the guts to stand up to liberals and justify a vote to confirm Roberts.

Kmiec argues that when it comes to radical Islam, "Senator Obama needs to address this extremist movement with the same clarity and honesty with which he has addressed the topic of race in America." Of course, Obama's failure to do so after more than a year of campaigning, has no bearing on Kmiec's decision to endorse him.

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