The Kagan-gsta Rap Continues
Hey, who needs the press?
CBS: “The White House today posted on its website a video allowing Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan to speak ‘in her own words’ about her personal history and perspective . . . While the White House seems to believe the American people deserve to hear from Kagan, it has not made her available to reporters. That prompted some consternation at today’s White House briefing. ’It appears that Solicitor General Kagan did an interview yesterday right after the president’s announcement,’ said a reporter. ‘You’ve now posted that on the White House Web site. Who did the interview? And can I have one?’ ‘I think it’s — I think it’s on the website if you want to see it,’ responded Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. Soon after, the reporter can be heard saying, an edge in her voice, ‘So a White House staffer interviewing her.’ Gibbs says yes, and the reporter asks if Kagan would like to do another interview. ‘She has — she’s not told me that, no,’ replied Gibbs, prompting the reporter to respond, ‘Tell her we’re deeply frustrated.’”
Traditionally, Supreme Court nominees don’t conduct interviews with the press during the confirmation process, and maybe that’s a tradition to reconsider. The way the nomination process is evolving, at least half the questions from the friendly party are variations of “what’s your favorite color?” and “What was the one case in Perry Mason that Burger won?” (You know I’m not joking.) Only the questions from the unfriendly party are likely to generate any real information, and most nominees are more heavily coached than Russian gymnasts and every bit as nimble. So they press the mental button of ‘oh, I couldn’t possibly prejudge that issue, senator, and so I’ll simply examine precedent and the arguments before me’ until the five minutes or so are up.
At Red State, Moe Lane is unsurprised: “As most folks involved with the VRWC will happily tell you, this is a totally-expected and unsurprising gambit in the administration’s ongoing move to turn the media’s 2008 infatuation with the President into whole-scale neutering. The White House’s logic is compelling, in its way: they know what they want Kagan to say, they have no intention of letting her say anything to the media that is off-message, so why even bother with the formality of an outside interview? There are plenty of people in the Executive branch of government who know how to operate a video camera, so get one of those, do the interview, hand it to the media, and tell them to get it on the nightly news. That’s how it worked in the campaign, right? Doing it this nakedly is just more . . . efficient.”
Mediaite: “Journalistically, you could argue that Kagan’s feet weren’t actually held to the fire here, or even a warm pair of slippers. This is nothing new, but it would have been a nice surprise to see her swing at a couple of curveballs. Maybe there’s an outtake reel somewhere.”
Even the New York Times got a little snarky about it: “Not surprisingly, there were no questions about her views on abortion, or executive power, or affirmative action, or any of the other hot-button issues that conservatives and liberals alike would love to hear her address. Rather, the video is a bland, overly scripted take on a woman who, by all accounts, is warm, funny and engaging.”
This comment from Jules Crittenden hit home for me: “I’d add that President Obama seems bent on packing the court with people who never had children, and would suggest that if you haven’t had your sleep disturbed for years on end; haven’t subjugated everything in your life to someone else’s interests . . . as opposed to subjugating everything to your career interests . . . and never changed a diaper except, say, as a boutique experience; if you haven’t seen your hopes and dreams grow up, charge off in their own direction and start talking back to you; if you haven’t dealt with abuse of authority and human rights issues sometimes encountered in dealings with obtuse school officials, class bullies and town sports leagues; then there’s a high risk your understanding of life may be somewhat . . . academic. It’s a humbling experience, parenthood. As well as an inspiring one that gives life meaning. It also, as a friend of mine once put it, makes you sane. Even while it drives you crazy. Put another way, it’s part of the maturation thing. Doesn’t the president know any soccer moms who went to a state school?”
I type this with an actual toddler crawling on me.