Patterico's Pontifications

8/18/2008

WSJ: Obama and Clarence Thomas

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 12:04 am



[Guest post by DRJ]

The Wall Street Journal was not impressed with Barack Obama’s answer when Rick Warren asked which Supreme Court justices he would not have nominated. Obama replied “that’s a good one” and added:

“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 Journal compared Obama’s and Thomas’ experience and background and found Obama lacking:

“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.”

The Journal notes that Obama “instinctively reverted to the leftwing cliché that the Court’s black conservative isn’t up to the job” and failed to deliver on his promise of civility and “bringing people together.” No wonder, the editorial concludes, Obama doesn’t speak at open forums. He might “let slip what he really believes.”

Here’s something the Journal didn’t say it but I will: Obama found a way to throw Clarence Thomas under the bus. Maybe his idea of uniting people means we all end up together under the bus.

— DRJ

50 Responses to “WSJ: Obama and Clarence Thomas”

  1. “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.”

    “Not a strong enough…legal thinker.” OMG.

    OK, Barack, let’s take you at your word. Wouldn’t you, as a supporter of affirmative action, be willing to bend the rules for someone who isn’t as qualified as *ahem* other people in line for the job? (/sarcasm)

    Notice how he throws in Constitutional differences after essentially doing the same thing Harry Reid did a couple of years back — insult Thomas’ intelligence. Once again, this is the problem when the Obamas speak extemporaneously: They wind up saying something stupid instead of saying nothing. This is why they’re doing their best to kill time and delay debates as much as possible; thinking on his feet is kryptonite to Barry Teleprompter.

    L.N. Smithee (452a68)

  2. Clarence Thomas is always a target. Always. Because he doesn’t grandstand in the courtroom. I disagree with him occasionally, but at least his opinions tend to be understandable. Try reading O’Connor sometime and tell me Thomas doesn’t compare well.

    Supreme Court justices, even those I don’t agree with, should be above politicking like Joe Biden. Look at Kennedy… how he tries to bend and weave so that he is beloved. It’s bad for jurisprudence because it’s incoherent legally.

    If you disagree with Thomas’s somewhat ‘extreme’ strict construction ideas, or whatever you think he represents, that’s one thing. But I see nothing about his work that strikes me as unintelligent. I recall all those black leaders telling Thomas that he had to stick up for black interests… just because he’s black. Sick.

    Thomas is a huge civil rights success story (And so much of his life was dedicated to civil rights… not that the left will ever give him any credit). Read his book. Understand what he is. He has transcended race, without losing his heritage. He’s part of The Dream.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  3. He dissed Justice Clarence Thomas?! OK, that’s IT!! The man is SCUM!!!!! :)

    Seriously, read about this on HotAir yesterday and was hoping it’d get a post here. Thanks DRJ. Glad to see their relative experience highlighted and the senator not getting away with this comment.

    Supreme Court Justice Thomas has in fact risen from extremely disadvantaged circumstances to one of the highest positions in the U.S., on his merits. Compare Sen. Obama’s resume and already-displayed thinking abilities with Justice Thomas’ and could Obama qualify to do his job? The question answers itself.

    In short, please keep talking, Senator. You’re pretty amusing – and you keep showing us new boundaries of laughable arrogance – when unscripted.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  4. “Not a strong enough…legal thinker.” OMG.

    Comment by L.N. Smithee — 8/18/2008 @ 12:26 am

    My reaction too. Especially since Obama almost said – but caught himself in the middle of the word: “not experienced” but said instead, “not exp–not a strong enough…”. Video’s at Hot Air.

    You can see the wheels turning: “Should I call him inexperienced, or a moron? Let’s go with moron!”

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  5. The perpetual-victimhood crowd HATE Thomas; to them he is the personification of Uncle Tom. In answering the way that he did Obama is pandering to them. Clarence Thomas goes under the wheels in service of the greater good: preserving Obama’s stranglehold on the black vote.

    Icy Truth (9e6f2a)

  6. With three months to go, he’s going to need a bigger bus.

    gregory hodge (77b68e)

  7. There’s another ugly possibility in Obama’s choice: given that all of the justices he doesn’t like are Catholic conservative males, and that during his short time in the Senate he actually voted NO on the nominations of both Roberts and Alito, why then pick Thomas? Could it be that he saw a chance to play on possible racist and/or anti- affirmative action sentiments among the viewing audience? [Over the years many have said that Bush 41’s nomination of Thomas, and the vote of Congress to confirm, was a form of affirmative action.] In other words: Did Obama play the race card against a member of his own race?

    Icy Truth (3b019b)

  8. Barack Obama doesn’t like Clarence Thomas or any coservative. Yet naming Thomas, Obama seems to edorse Ruth Bader Ginsberg advocacy of shopping for forieign precident. If our Constitution is governed by foreign law, as Ginsberg would have us believe, why bother having a written constitution in the first place.

    Thomas believes in the Constitution which was ratified by the People. Ginsberg et al, believes the Constitution means whatever five black robed thugs says it means.

    DavidL (02e14f)

  9. OMG! He “dissed” the Sainted Uncle Clarence! GET A ROPE !!!! STRING HIM UP!!!!!

    David Ehrenstein (699cff)

  10. Judge Thomas’ remarkable book MY GRANDFATHER’S SON should be read by all commenting on his life and character formation. He and his grandparents exhibit the best strengths and character of the American people–strength in the face of adversity, belief in God, belief in our country.

    The judge isn’t perfect–but this old white guy trusts him and respects the man and his experience. Saint Barack doesn’t have the experience (or heart) to tie his shoes.

    Rocketman

    John Bibb (c71150)

  11. The One disses Justice Thomas…
    I AM SHOCKED!

    I am shocked that anyone expected something different.
    As noted above, in comparing resumes, Barry-Baby isn’t even qualified to hold Thomas’ robe, let alone comment on the man wearing it.

    Another Drew (06d307)

  12. BTW people, Obama is against “race-based” affirmative action, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals is hardly the 2nd most important court in the country (it’s likely not in the top 25). Please go read the entire story, without the extraneous neocon political agenda attached. McCain suggested that he would not have nominated any of the four liberal judges and Obama suggested the same about Thomas, Scalia and Roberts, with the difference being that he thought Scalia and Roberts were well-qualified, and that Thomas was not, that’s all. Hardly a revelation, is it?

    Brad Skipper (95b9c5)

  13. Maybe his idea of uniting people means we all end up together under the bus.

    Theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee wheels on the bus go round and round…

    Scott Jacobs (fa5e57)

  14. and law school lecturer.

    And remind me… Just how LONG did he lecture?

    I know people just out of law school who without passing the Bar Exam have more legal experiance than Obama…

    Scott Jacobs (fa5e57)

  15. The D.C. Court of Appeals is not the second most important court in the land? That’s odd, because when I was in law school I attended a lecture given by then-Chief Justice Rehnquist, and he described the D.C. Court of Appeals as exactly that — but I guess C.J. Rehnquist didn’t know what he was talking about, eh Brad? As the top jurist in the nation, he was probably clueless about the relative importance of U.S. courts, right?

    As for your assertion that Obama opposes race-based affirmative action, guess again. Obama has consistently opposed efforts to do away with race-based affirmative action programs, as when he opposed the Michigan ballot initiative that would have prohibited the state from using an applicant’s race to give the applicant an advantage in the granting of state contracts or admissions to state colleges and universities. BTW, the initiative passed by a large margin, despite Obama’s commercials urging Michigan voters to reject it.

    A.B.L. (7133f6)

  16. Barry O had to go after Thomas – if he went after Scalia or Roberts first, then he would have shown the only card he really had to play – the Race Card. Going after Thomas was the “safe” bet for him – and he screwed that up by using the, “not exp–not a strong enough…” line.

    Thomas is a success story – like Colin Powell, Condi Rice and other minorities and women that refused to listen to “The Man is keeping us down” line that the Donks like to put out there. Unfortunately, they have had to endure the juvenile behavior of the “progressives” by being called “Uncle Tom” and “Aunt Jemima” because they don’t tow the Donks line….

    McCain’s people need to make sure that Barry O’s performance at this forum gets out to everyone – on the tube and the ‘net, so all of America can see the Chosen One in an environment that his handlers have no control of.

    fmfnavydoc (28bce2)

  17. Brad Skipper, I realize that sarcasm is often hard to detect when expressed in ones and zeros, so for now I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. You were joking when you said Obama opposed race-based affirmative action, right? And you were really, really, really joking when you said that the DC Circuit not only isn’t the second most important court in the country, but doesn’t even make the top 25. Surely no one would throw out a number like 25 without at least checking to see how many circuits there are (hint: nowhere near 25), and be serious.

    Bottom line: you are either a brilliant conservative or a retarded liberal. Which is it?

    Xrlq (b71926)

  18. Want to know what disgruntles me? (Of course not. You don’t even know me but for a few comments on this blog.) It’s when I read a majority opinion of the US Supreme Court and strongly disagree with it, and find, when I want to rant that the justice writing the opinion must be a dumb ass, that there were a bunch of other justices (sometimes all of them) who agree with the “dumb ass.”

    Ira (28a423)

  19. Hey, Ira. Join the club. I’ve thought that a majority of the Robes were DA’s since I first started reading their crap in the 50’s.
    Of course, those were all the left-overs from the FDR regime; and then we got Warren.

    Another Drew (06d307)

  20. Eight white people on the court and he calls out the one African-American — what is this, the Jersey State Patrol? The man’s a stone racist.

    Oh, you mean Obama said that? Errr, ummm, cough…uhhh…/LOGOFF.

    furious (b6aff2)

  21. Stevens is particularly odious in light of Hamdan and Boumedienne, considering his anguish over the targeting and elimination of Admiral Yamamoto, the planner of the Pearl Harbor attack(equivalent to blowing up KSM or Mustafa Atef); which in his former job as Navy codebreaker, felt responsible for.In the 15 years before being appointed to the Supreme Court, he had held out with a whole series of issues at the Missouri Attorney General’s office, EEOC and appeals court level. Obama’s experience as a lecturer, state legislator (137 ‘present’ votes,) and peripathetic Senator, pale in comparison.

    narciso (c36902)

  22. I realize the Journal was defending Thomas, but they didn’t do it well enough. At the time of his nomination to the Supreme Court, Judge Thomas had almost 16 months of experience on the D.C. Circuit. Also, I’ve read (I can’t remember where, sorry) that Judge Thomas had written more opinions than any other D.C. Circuit judge at that time–20 or more, IIRC.

    Alan (c61d4e)

  23. The real tragedy is that thinking like Obama’s has created this upside-down world in which actual, significant accomplishments by blacks have become suspect. Clarence Thomas was an outstanding student in college, and he did indeed rise from a choking poverty, but when he got to Yale Law School, the assumption was that he only got there because he was black. And when he finished law school, his accomplishment was derided because he was black–must’ve been an affirmative-action admit. And even though he was a popular speaker at conservative events even before he was nominated, the assumption remains that he had never distinguished himself in any way before George Bush put him on the Supreme Court. A whole life of achievement ignored because he’s black–must’ve been an affirmative-action beneficiary.

    Obama buys into that mentality. Affirmative action stigmatizes the achievements of minorities who would’ve made remarkable strides in life without racial preferences, and creates resentment on the part of those denied the benefits they see going to others of a different race. This state of affairs is precisely what Obama (and previously McCain, before this summer when he suddenly repudiated his prior support of racial preferences) wants to preserve. Is this the way to create the unity that Obama purports to strive for? What a hypocrite the man is. Meet the new politics, same as the old politics.

    Alan (c61d4e)

  24. Seems to me by now so much and so many have been thrown under the bus that the wheels are beginning to lift…with the resulting loss of traction.

    John the Skeptic (d635f2)

  25. The text of this part of the q&a misses part of the context of the exchange. In the video, at the moment that Obama names Clarence Thomas, he looks decisively at the questioner. Before that, he’s looking off, distantly, “thinking,” as he muses, “I would not have nominated . . .” and then full-face and declaratively, “Clarence Thomas.” He was throwing a gauntlet; you might even say “a card.”

    m (08e490)

  26. I’ll go with the standard liberal dogma for 10 Rick, Clarence Thomas.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  27. #25 – “m”

    He was throwing a gauntlet; you might even say “a card.”

    — I did say that. See #7.

    Icy Truth (1d424e)

  28. Another non issue that needs to be exploded by the Right into a pseudo controversy. Maybe Obama said Clarence Thomas because he is in fact, the most prosaic, dogmatic and predictable judge on the bench?

    Also, considering his hard scrabble background and accomplishments, there’s no excuse for how many times Thomas has voted for opinions that further institutionalized oppression. What is up with that? The man seems to have come out of his life with no wisdom and zero compassion. Just hateful bitterness.

    Being a member of the Supreme court demands better than that, FWIW and I’d say it will be a good day when the man has the decency to retire and spare the nation his need for vengeance and payback and his warped draconian disrespectful view of the Constitution.

    Peter (e70d1c)

  29. I thin he dissed Thomas to show he is “post racial.”

    Didn’t do it for me! This ain’t no Sister Soljah moment.

    Patricia (f56a97)

  30. Peter –

    Maybe Obama said Clarence Thomas because he is in fact, the most prosaic, dogmatic and predictable judge on the bench?
    — Is that what Obama said? or is it just what you are saying? You did get one thing right: he is predictably constructionist.

    there’s no excuse for how many times Thomas has voted for opinions that further institutionalized oppression.
    — For example?

    The man seems to have come out of his life with no wisdom and zero compassion. Just hateful bitterness.
    — Pot meet kettle.

    his warped draconian disrespectful view of the Constitution
    — The man who totally respects what is written in the Constitution more than any other member of the court, except for maybe Scalia, actually does not respect it at all? Enlighten us, oh wizened one.

    — Whoops! I meant “oh wise one”. Still working on figuring out the strike-through function.

    Icy Truth (1d424e)

  31. Could be it’s personal. Did Bambi or his battle axe apply to clerk for Justice Thomas and get the cold shoulder? There simply has to be some reason for Bambi to dis the highest ranking African-American member of the legal profession, other than pandering to left-wing hysteria. THE ANOINTED ONE would never stoop to such demeaning self revelations on national TV, or did he?

    Ropelight (4a83c9)

  32. – Is that what Obama said? or is it just what you are saying?

    Why would this be anything but what I am saying?


    You did get one thing right: he is predictably constructionist.

    The man is beyond predictably constructionist. He’s more like a medievalist, if that’s possible. Women would not have the vote and slavery would’ve never been abolished, civil laws never enacted, torture legal, police powers broadened, death penalty for the mentally retarded on and on it goes…his revenge against the world because he had such a hideous childhood and such a bruising confirmation process that he needs to punish anyone he can.

    Thomas has voted for opinions that further institutionalized oppression.
    – For example?

    See above.

    The man seems to have come out of his life with no wisdom and zero compassion. Just hateful bitterness.
    – Pot meet kettle.

    And you know these things about me how exactly?

    Oh, wait was that a joke?

    ha ha.

    – The man who totally respects what is written in the Constitution more than any other member of the court, except for maybe Scalia

    I don’t think anyone who has such little need for stare decisis respects the Constitution. Not to mention, what writing he’s actually done for the court aren’t exactly considered brilliant.

    Peter (e70d1c)

  33. Thomas is merely a token black conservative. Did nothing to speakof at the EEOC. Appointed to a federal appeals court with no real litigation experience and then the Supreme Court, where he has been silent for years during oral argument. No one honestly thinks he is intellectually equal to any of the other justices. He got where he is because he has the balls to go after what he wants. That’s admirable, but please, don’t pretend he’s one of the top judges in the U.S.

    Sam (b55aee)

  34. #33

    Come on. Get a life.

    Vermont Neighbor (a066ed)

  35. That’s admirable, but please, don’t pretend he’s one of the top judges in the U.S.

    Sam – No, he just plays one on the Supreme Court. Is it a requirement to ask questions during oral arguments? That’s a tired talking point Sam, you need an upgrade. Obama and Thomas have also been on the same side on several decision, so it’s not all ideological. It’s the standard democratic trope about not allowing any blacks off the liberal plantation. Based on experience, Thomas was more qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice than Obama is to be President.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  36. “The man seems to have come out of his life with no wisdom and zero compassion. Just hateful bitterness.”

    Peter is as usual taking his talking points from somewhere else tonight and has no idea how to support them.

    Peter probably doesn’t know that the bitter hateful Judge Thomas spends a lot of his off time driving around America in a motor home spending time in trailer parks with ordinary Americans and enjoys the heck out of it. No ivory tower academic elitists or merlot sipping political insiders that Obama hangs out with for Thomas.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  37. #33 – Sam

    He got where he is because he has the balls to go after what he wants.

    — He lobbied for the position, did he? You must have graduated from Peter’s School of Claim-That-The-Opposite-Of-The-Truth-Is-The-Truth.

    Icy Truth (1d424e)

  38. Icy – I thought they put Supreme Court vacancies in the want ads and anyone could apply. Beajudge.com or whatever these days.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  39. Such…oppressive…stupidity….

    Not sure…logic…can survive….

    Race card…ineffectual…against actual skill, or if the “minority” differs in politics….

    *thud*

    Foxfier (15ac79)

  40. I think Walter Cronkite, patron saint of the left, suggested people were too dumb to vote in 2000. I thought his observation was pretty nutty and self-serving at the time, but this year the Obamatards are making him appear much wiser than I gave him credit for.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  41. Peter:

    The man is beyond predictably constructionist. He’s more like a medievalist, if that’s possible. Women would not have the vote and slavery would’ve never been abolished..

    Yup, if all 9 Supreme Court Justices read the Constitution the way Clarence Thomas does, the Supreme Court would have never have implied a prohibition against slavery under the original Constitution, which expressly condoned it. Nor would they have found a women’s right to choose her elected representatives lurking about in its penumbras or emanations. With courts like that, slavery would never have been outlawed, and women would never have been guaranteed the right to vote, unless the unthinkable had happened and Congress and the states took it upon themselves to amend the Constitution accordingly. Oh, wait

    Xrlq (b71926)

  42. He’s more like a medievalist, if that’s possible. Women would not have the vote and slavery would’ve never been abolished, civil laws never enacted, torture legal, police powers broadened, death penalty for the mentally retarded on and on it goes…his revenge against the world because he had such a hideous childhood and such a bruising confirmation process that he needs to punish anyone he can.

    Wow. It shouldn’t be shocking anymore, but it is, nonetheless.

    JD (75f5c3)

  43. Peter, once again, you demonstrate absolutely no understanding of the topic on which you opine. And you prove very clearly that you have never read any of Thomas’ opinions and you are completely clueless about his positions. As just one example that contradicts your ignorant opinion, Thomas is in fact one of the most pro-defendant justices in criminal cases.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  44. *thud*

    Comment by Foxfier — 8/18/2008 @ 10:23 pm

    LOL

    The man is beyond predictably constructionist. He’s more like a medievalist, if that’s possible. Women would not have the vote and slavery would’ve never been abolished, civil laws never enacted, torture legal, police powers broadened, death penalty for the mentally retarded on and on it goes…his revenge against the world because he had such a hideous childhood and such a bruising confirmation process that he needs to punish anyone he can.

    OK now you’re just TRYING to look silly. Over the cliff silly. “Clarence Thomas WANTS to be a slave and never have any wonen vote again!” LOL

    no one you know (1f5ddb)

  45. “Not to mention, what writing he’s actually done for the court aren’t exactly considered brilliant.”
    Well now that you DID mention it, could you elaborate on any of Justice Thomas’ opinions that, in your legal opinion, fall short of the quality worthy of Supreme Court justice? Or could it be that you’re just spouting an intellectually vapid partisan line against a highly accomplished jurist? I realize that Justice Thomas deserves tremendous scorn heaped upon him because he doesn’t think the way the guardians of progressive thought require him to think by virtue of his race, but I do eagerly await a more detailed explanation of how his legal scholarship comes up short. Maybe a side-by-side comparison with some of Obama’s most prominent legal scholarship would serve the purpose.

    Jack Klompus (cf3660)

  46. #45 You could probably read some outstanding work by Obama produced when he chaired the Annenberg Challenge Fund, which was run by that upstanding patriot William Ayers. Oops, that source has been thrown under the bus or at least is now off limits. We don’t want the peons to actually know what Baracky espoused for education.

    Read all about it as The Library of Babel at http://pajamasmedia.com/richardfernandez/

    madmax333 (0c6cfc)

  47. #45,

    There is no need for proof. Peter read it on the Lost Koz site or Huffington Post. Or maybe the National Enquirer (which, you have to admit, has a pretty good track record when it comes to exposing the deeds of the political class).

    It’s not possible that Peter, a man with deep insight, is simply projecting Bambi’s character, professional, and intellectual faults onto Clarence Thomas.

    steve miller (b589d7)

  48. Yup, if all 9 Supreme Court Justices read the Constitution the way Clarence Thomas does, the Supreme Court would have never have implied a prohibition against slavery under the original Constitution, which expressly condoned it.

    If, as you say, the Constitution “expressly condoned” slavery, then it doesn’t matter whether you’re an originalist or a nonoriginalist–there’s no way to “impl[y] a prohibition against slavery” in a document that “expressly condone[s] it.” Idiot.

    Alan (c61d4e)

  49. Oops. That was your point. I’m the idiot.

    Alan (c61d4e)

  50. SPQR

    Thomas is in fact one of the most pro-defendant justices in criminal cases.

    You mean except when it involves capital punishment. Especially if the defendant is Mentally handicapped and/or retarded.

    Peter (e70d1c)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.3373 secs.