Doug Kmiec has endorsed Barack Obama, in one of the most puzzling pieces of writing I have ever read. Kmiec, who claims to be a Republican, literally does not advance one single reason why Obama would be a better President than John McCain. Instead, his piece is full of generalized reasons why (in Kmiec’s opinion) it wouldn’t necessarily be that bad if Obama were to win:
As a Republican, I strongly wish to preserve traditional marriage not as a suspicion or denigration of my homosexual friends, but as recognition of the significance of the procreative family as a building block of society. As a Republican, and as a Catholic, I believe life begins at conception, and it is important for every life to be given sustenance and encouragement. As a Republican, I strongly believe that the Supreme Court of the United States must be fully dedicated to the rule of law, and to the employ of a consistent method of interpretation that keeps the Court within its limited judicial role. As a Republican, I believe problems are best resolved closest to their source and that we should never arrogate to a higher level of government that which can be more effectively and efficiently resolved below. As a Republican, and the constitutional lawyer, I believe religious freedom does not mean religious separation or mindless exclusion from the public square.
In various ways, Senator Barack Obama and I may disagree on aspects of these important fundamentals, but I am convinced based upon his public pronouncements and his personal writing that on each of these questions he is not closed to understanding opposing points of view, and as best as it is humanly possible, he will respect and accommodate them.
Prof. Kmiec, that’s all very nice. I’m happy that you feel that, if you vote for the guy who disagrees with aspects of your allegedly fundamental beliefs, he’ll do his best to respect your point of view. But, you see, there is a candidate — his name is John McCain; you might have heard of him — who actually supports the principles for which you claim to stand. Why you are refusing to support him?
John McCain says he wants to appoint Justices in the mold of Alito and Roberts. Barack Obama says he wants to appoint Justices with a big heart. The Doug Kmiec I thought I knew supports the “Roberts and Alito” vision of our Supreme Court. Why is he now endorsing a guy who supports the “big heart” version?
I confess I’m at a complete loss. Can anyone help me out here?
UPDATE: I use the “big heart” formulation as shorthand for the usual Democrat claim that we need Justices with more political experience and more empathy. Bill Clinton is, of course, the politician who most famously used this formulation, which was repeated by many Democrats during the Roberts and Alito hearings. Obama is clearly on exactly the same page. Here is a more specific quote from Obama on the kind of Justice he wants:
I want people on the bench who have enough empathy, enough feeling, for what ordinary people are going through.
He uses Earl Warren as his example of the perfect Justice, just as Bill Clinton did when he was President.