Solicitor General Elana Kagan is not President Obama's first nomination
to the Supreme Court; that honor goes to Sonia Sotomayor, who was
appointed last year. But Kagan may be the most similar to Obama himself.
From ideology to personal history, the two have a lot in common.
Here are the parallels.
- Cool-Headed Pragmatists The
Washington Post's Amy
Goldstein, Carol Leonnig, and Peter Slevin write, "Her style bears
some similarity to that of Obama -- a former law professor who ran
across Kagan at Chicago while the two were teaching there. Both have
cool temperaments, although her sharp wit is closer to the surface than
his. Both thrive in tense and ego-ridden environments by synthesizing
the arguments of different camps."
- Same View of
Balance-of-Power The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder writes, "She tried to get
Obama to become a Harvard Law prof. She and he are brilliant, detached,
and of like minds. She has many ties in the administration. Like Obama,
she seems to be a proponent of a vigorous constitutional system of
balanced powers, in which Congress, the Courts and the Executive Branch
compete transparently. Critics of her interpretation of the laws of war
ought to realize that this interpretation reflects her boss's own."
- Liberal Reputations, Moderate Records Politico's Glenn Thrush evaluates her similarities. "Kagan’s career mirrors that of the man who chose her for the high court — reinforcing the notion around 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. that Obama is drawn to people who, well, remind Obama of Obama," he writes. "Kagan, like the president, has a reputation as a progressive but not necessarily a clear record to match, which has aroused suspicion on the left. ... As dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan set about to reform, renovate and change — but ever so carefully, reaching out to the right and earning influential conservative admirers who will help her during the confirmation process."
- 'Skillful Politicians' Who Want 'Empathy' In a staff editorial, the Wall Street Journal argues that "President Obama has tapped the legal world's version of himself: a skillful politician whose cautious public persona belies a desire to transform the court and shape a new Constitutional liberalism. ... Obama may also see in his nominee a reflection of his philosophy that judging cases should be guided as much by personal experience and 'empathy' as by the plain words of the Constitution."
- 'Blank Slate' 'Careerist' Salon's Glenn Greenwald calls Kagan "a blank slate, institution-loyal, seemingly principle-free careerist who spent the last 15 months as the Obama administration's lawyer vigorously defending every one of his assertions of extremely broad executive authority. The Obama administration is filled to the brim with exactly such individuals -- as is reflected by its actions and policies -- and this is just one more to add to the pile."