Kagan and anonymous America


"Even after the [1980 Senate election] returns came in, I found it hard to conceive of the victories of these anonymous but Moral Majority-backed opponents." -Elena Kagan in The Daily Princetonian

None of us wants to be judged for all the foolish things we said and did when we were 18. Or even 20. So it may seem unfair to be criticizing Elena Kagan for her rather revealing writings from her days at The Daily Princetonian. After all, Kagan's defenders would say she has had a lot of life experience since then.

Indeed she has. "Experience keeps a dear school," wrote Ben Franklin, whose life experiences surpassed any other in the 18th century, "but a fool will learn in no other." The question we should consider is whether her life experiences give any evidence of a change from those youthful, revealing writings? I suggest they do not.

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Many of us have seen The New Yorker cartoon that shows a map of Manhattan. The borough dominates the foreground of the illustration. Beyond are the Palisades of New Jersey.

Beyond that, the rest of America and, in fact, the world shrinks to insignificance.

The Rocky Mountains appear as mere gumdrops.

It was The New Yorker's spoof on New Yorkers and their blinkered worldview. It was a way of updating P.T. Barnum's jibe: "Once you leave New York, it's all Bridgeport," meaning Bridgeport, Conn.

Pauline Kael, the famous film critic of The New Yorker, is widely quoted as having said of the 1972 presidential election: "I can't believe Nixon won. I don't know anyone who voted for him." Yes, those people who voted for Nixon were all "anonymous."

Note in the Kagan quote above how she dismisses Sens. Chuck Grassley, Dan Quayle, James Abdnor, and Steve Symms. They are "anonymous." They don't even rate being named. But they were backed by the Moral Majority. Which means that probably a lot of anonymous Christian voters helped put them in office.

Those Christians and other anonymous voters dared to rise up and oust pillars of the Senate pro-abortion establishment: liberal icons like John Culver, Birch Bayh, George McGovern, and Frank Church. Campaign donors from Manhattan's West Side kept those worthies in office for decades. Those West Siders are Kagan's more enlightened neighbors.

The defeated Senate liberals, shielded for years by a compliant media, had been able to deceive their Midwest and Mountain State voters. At home they avoided the term "liberal." Even today, Barack Obama and Elena Kagan prefer to be called "progressives." Back in 1978 and 1980, however, a whole raft of those liberal senators was sent packing by voters who got wise.

Tom Daschle was able to keep his home folks act running for a quarter of a century. In Washington, the soft-spoken Daschle operated like a liberal's liberal. He ran to Hollywood to raise money for his party's candidates, touting them as representatives of the "pro-choice" party they were. But when he went back to South Dakota, he ran to Mass, played up his Catholic upbringing, and sounded like the aging altar boy he was. John Thune finally put an end to Daschle's posturing in 2004. Thune's probably anonymous to Kagan, too.

Elena Kagan's act is another run of the Daschle dance number. She is making the rounds this week of Senate offices. She's even hit an anonymous Republican senator's office or two. She will make every effort to charm them.

None of this should obscure the fact that she is a far-left nominee. She is an open admirer of Judge Aharon Barak, Israel's self-described activist Supreme Court judge. She calls this Barak "my judicial hero." If Kagan is confirmed, she could be sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court for the next 40 years---40 more years of judicial activism.

And if members of Congress don't like her brand of judicial activism, they can be referred back to a letter she wrote in 2005. As dean of Harvard Law School, she thought that the very idea of criticizing activist judges was "irresponsible" and "harmful to our constitutional system and to the value of a judiciary." Shut up, she explained, to those pesky, anonymous elected members of Congress. They were probably put in office by those annoying people who don't respect their betters---those, those voters.

Ken Blackwell
Ken Blackwell

Ken, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, is the co-author of The Blueprint: Obama's Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency. Follow Ken on Twitter @kenblackwell.


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