The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Some of my Left-leaning friends argue that their primary concern about John McCain is “Supreme Court nominations.” Fair enough. But I try to explain that a McCain presidency would be highly constrained by a senate that has a wide Democratic majority. A strict constructionist, anti-Roe v. Wade candidate suggested by McCain would have no more chance of appointment than Osama bin Laden. That’s a reality.

Few people seem to worry about Barack Obama’s potential court appointments, but they should. In a recent forum, Obama was asked which SCOTUS justices he would not have nominated. He chose Clarence Thomas among others. That’s okay, but the way he did it tells us something about his character. The Wall Street Journal comments on the question and the response:
Mr. Obama took a lower road, replying first that "that's a good one," and then adding that "I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas. I don't think that he, I don't think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation. Setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretation of a lot of the Constitution." The Democrat added that he also wouldn't have appointed Antonin Scalia, and perhaps not John Roberts, though he assured the audience that at least they were smart enough for the job.

So let's see. By the time he was nominated, Clarence Thomas had worked in the Missouri Attorney General's office, served as an Assistant Secretary of Education, run the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and sat for a year on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation's second most prominent court. Since his "elevation" to the High Court in 1991, he has also shown himself to be a principled and scholarly jurist.

Meanwhile, as he bids to be America's Commander in Chief, Mr. Obama isn't yet four years out of the Illinois state Senate, has never held a hearing of note of his U.S. Senate subcommittee, and had an unremarkable record as both a "community organizer" and law school lecturer. Justice Thomas's judicial credentials compare favorably to Mr. Obama's Presidential résumé by any measure. And when it comes to rising from difficult circumstances, Justice Thomas's rural Georgian upbringing makes Mr. Obama's story look like easy street.

Even more troubling is what the Illinois Democrat's answer betrays about his political habits of mind. Asked a question he didn't expect at a rare unscripted event, the rookie candidate didn't merely say he disagreed with Justice Thomas. Instead, he instinctively reverted to the leftwing cliché that the Court's black conservative isn't up to the job while his white conservative colleagues are.

Mr. Obama would be well-advised to temper his criticism of people who have CVs that are considerably more impressive than his own. Whether you like Clarence Thomas or not, the Supreme Court Justice’s background and experience make Barack Obama look like a third grader. In fact, there are hundreds of national figures (in government and out) who have more executive experience, more legislative experience, more international experience, more business experience, more political experience and more life experience than the senator. The one area where Senator Obama shines—eloquence—often betrays a troubling lack of humility.