Kagan’s on the court
Elena Kagan won approval of the Senate this week to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, marking the first time three women will be on the panel. The vote was relatively predictable. Kudos to Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Lindsay Graham, Judd Gregg and Richard Lugar for putting politics aside and voting for Kagan for the only reason that should matter: They found her to be a well-qualified candidate for the court. And then there’s supposedly Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, the lone member of his party to vote against Kagan. In response to critics of his vote, Nelson said, “Are they from Nebraska? Then I don’t care.” In other words, “Can they vote for me in the next election? If not, I don’t care.” There’s nothing wrong with a lawmaker breaking with his party. In fact, independence is a valuable quality in a lawmaker. But it’s not independence that Nelson is displaying. It’s pure politics. He’ll be facing re-election in a couple of years in a conservative state, and if there’s anything remotely controversial about an issue, you can expect Nelson to vote with the Republicans. He might as well just switch parties and make it official. Then there’s Scott Brown, the Republican senator from Massachusetts, who had the most hilarious explanation for his “no” vote on Kagan. Brown said he thinks Kagan is “brilliant,” but he voted against her because she lacks courtroom experience. I have no problem with someone thinking that members of the top court should have a judicial background, but Brown’s explanation was ludicrous. He said, “The best umpires, to use the popular analogy, must not only call balls and strikes, but also have spent enough time on the playing field to know the strike zone.” That’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. First, that’s not a popular analogy. In fact, I’m guessing no one has EVER heard it uttered before in human history. Second, an umpire doesn’t have to have any experience as a player to be a good arbiter. All an umpire has to do is understand the rulebook and apply it accurately and fairly. Brown comes out of this looking like a boob. In other words, he’s perfect for the Senate.