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Here Comes The Judge

My fellow Americans,

President Obama has nominated his second Supreme Court Justice today, United States Solicitor General Elena Kagan.

Now, selecting a Supreme Court Justice is almost entirely a political thing - pandering to your supporters and extending influence into the Judicial branch.  But it's also about paying off political loan sharks and balancing the books on unspoken deals made over handshakes and whispered promises. This was particularly true for me during my presidency.

You need to realize that getting nominated for president in 1968 was very different than today. There were only a handful of open primaries and most of the delegates needed in the convention were awarded through seedy deals made in small, dark rooms filled with sweaty men chomping on cigars, knocking back slugs of bourbon, and telling jokes about Jews and Blacks. These repulsive swine were small-minded men with selfish agendas who would deliver the necessary delegates but only if you agreed to repay at an astronomical vig.  I had to supplicate myself in front of these cheap hustlers, hat in hand, and make a lot of promises - particularly to a group of racist old ward-heelers from the south.  And when it came time for me to name my first supreme court justice, these yowling rednecks demanded repayment.

I knew that the sort of person a Klansman like Strom Thurmond wanted as Supreme Court Justice would be anathema to the rest of the country.  So, I would nominate a Bircher, Clement Haynsworth, or a repulsive hack like G. Harold Carswell, knowing full well that they would be rejected by the senate.  But the hayseeds and bumpkins couldn't complain, because I had tried to give them one of their own.  That was the Nixon way.  Game the system by following the letter of the agreement but not the spirit.

It's through that sort of prism we must view President Obama's recent nominee.  While he didn't have to face the degradation of kowtowing to a gang of ruthless thugs, he still had to make a pack of promises. So, which debt does Kagan pay off?

At first glance, Kagan seems to be a very shrewd choice to address the concerns of the Orthogonians in the middle of America.  A dowdy old lawyer with an all-American story of achieving success.  Since she's not a judge she has no track record of decisions that opponents can use against her. About the worst that could be said about her is that she seems very much a Franklin; a pointy-headed Dean of Harvard Law school who sits in an overstuffed leather chair, parsing out the subtleties and nuance of legal philosophy.

There is little doubt that she'll be confirmed.  The Democrats will force a vote before the mid-term elections, guaranteeing that they have the support needed to pass her through.  It's a safe pick with a safe strategy.

The thing is, however, Obama will have at least one more nomination before the 2012 election.  Justice Ginsburg is in ill health, and likely to retire after the next session.  Had I been in Obama's position, I would have made a more bold choice for this nominee, especially knowing I had the votes needed to confirm.  Save the safe pick for next year when you may need it.  Because from here on out, things will only get more contentious.  Particularly when/if he gets to replace one of the Raging Right: Scalia, Alito, Roberts, or Thomas.

That's when the real fun starts


Nixon is: Contemplative