Asked by Rick Warren who he would not have nominated to the Supreme Court, Barack Obama named Clarence Thomas, arguing that he wasn’t a “strong enough jurist or legal mind” at the time he was chosen — an interesting argument coming from a man just a few years removed from the state senate who thinks he’s ready to be president. Obama also said that while Scalia displays “intellectual brilliance,” he disagrees with him, and though John Roberts is “compelling” and “thoughtful” he’s too deferential to executive power.
Overall, I think this Warren forum suits Obama well, in a touchy-feely Oprah sort of way (he talked about the selfishness of his teenage drug and alcohol use and cited Matthew to justify liberal economic policies), but especially because there aren’t any tough follow ups.
It was absurd when Obama cited his opposition to the Iraq War as a gutsy move that defied his party, given that he was representing an overwhelmingly anti-war district and about to launch a long-shot bid for the U.S. Senate in which his only opening was to run to the left of the field in the primary.
Also, on abortion, he said it was “above [his] pay grade” to say when human rights begin, that he unserstands the moral and ethical issues involved, and that he supports reducing the number of abortions. But he couldn’t name a single instance in which he voted for legislation aimed at reducing or restricting abortions, only that he theoretically is open to restrictions on late term abortions if there is a health exception. Warren didn’t follow up with a question about his opposition to the Born Alive Infant Protection Act as a state senator.
When asked whether he thought evil exists and how we confront it — Obama mentioned Darfur, evil on the streets of American cities, and child abuse — but not 9/11 or Islamic terrorism.