Again With Kmiec

by Shannen W. Coffin

Doug Kmiec responds to my lighthearted jab questioning the logic of his endorsement of Barack Obama (using a Veggie Tales clip (Youtube query: veggie tales monkey) that didn’t post properly the other day, and may not again, but here goes). Kmiec responds:

Shannen’s post about watching Veggie Tales with his children reminded me of many similar happy hours years ago with my now adult children that it prompts me to write just a brief word because I both admire the difficulty and commitment [and yet sublime joy] of watching children’s programming when briefs, research papers, etc., etc., all have to be written, and it explain more than he realizes about why tolerating the abuse of the presidential office of the last eight years must not be continued for another four. Yes, Shannen – “Bob the Tomato’s” trenchant criticism notwithstanding – I choose no longer to nourish the idea that the continuation of a seriously flawed military engagement whose impact on lives here and abroad is anything other than inexcusable can be rationalized any more than the firing of one’s own U.S. Attorneys or the failure to honor any semblance of fiscal conservatism, thereby worsening the economic circumstance of average Americans and leaving, of course, social security and medicare in worse shape than when one assumed office.

I don’t wish to question here Professor Kmiec’s premises regarding “a seriously flawed military engagement” or the lack of “fiscal conservatism,” or even his views expressed again in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal  regarding the importance of the Supreme Court, but I continue to ask him what it is about Barack Obama that suggests Obama will exercise any form of fiscal restraint (quite the contrary, his entire platform is tax and spend, and spend, and spend) or appoint judges who understand judicial restraint. I will grant Professor Kmiec the point that Republicans do not have a monopoly on judicial restraint (though I might suggest market dominance), but there’s nothing in Obama’s record or rhetoric that suggests that he would be remotely interested in appointing Justices or judges who view their role as neutral arbiters of constitutional text. Professor Kmiec’s view of the war may be a sufficiently logical reason to support a candidate, such as Obama, who wishes to cut off our military’s involvement in Iraq. While I disagree with his premise that our current military involvement there is “inexcusable,” I’ll grant him that Obama might seem a better candidate to bring about immediate withdrawal from Iraq (albeit without regard for the consequences). But I think it would be more honest for Doug to admit that the war is the primary (and perhaps only real) factor driving his endorsement of Obama. His suggestion that Obama might be a good Democrat for conservatives to deal with on judges, protection of the unborn, fiscal discipline or similar issues is simply not supported by a shred of tangible proof, whereas McCain’s positions and record are at least much more favorable to conservatives (though far from perfect). It is not a conservative position that Kmiec is advancing in endorsing Obama, but rather, an anti-Iraq war position. He certainly has the right to do so, but let’s stop dressing it up as something else.

(Incidentally, I’m withholding my endorsement of any candidate for now, but hope to have a press conference sometime before the convention when I can achieve maximum impact).

Update:   Several readers have cogently pointed out that opposition to the war cannot logically be Professor Kmiec’s principal rationale for supporting Obama since he previously supported Mit Romney, who ran a stay-the-course-in-Iraq campaign.   Perhaps Professor Kmiec’s strongly held views on the war are a recent development, but the dissonance further fails the Bob the Tomato test.

The Corner

The one and only.