Patterico's Pontifications


Not from The Onion — Kmiec Endorses . . . Obama

Filed under: General,Judiciary — Patterico @ 3:57 pm

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.

50 Responses to “Not from The Onion — Kmiec Endorses . . . Obama”

  1. Early April Fools’ Day joke?

    Timothy Watson (fe3945)

  2. It’s like the Wizard of Oz. Obama is what you want him to be.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  3. I think “professor” might be a clue.

    Mike K (b9ce3e)

  4. The triumph of hope over inexperience?

    Dunno. I’m stumped especially on the types of Justices Kmiec wishes (all of whom Obama voted against or, I’m guessing, would have opposed).

    SteveMG (199ffb)

  5. “Barack Obama says he wants to appoint Justices with a big heart”


    stef (8a983a)

  6. Maybe the spies found something on Kmiec in the passport data scan and Obama’s got him!

    ManlyDad (d62cf6)

  7. If you finish reading the article it’s fairly obvious. Kmiec is repudiating the Bush foreign policy stance, and therefore can’t support McCain, who he sees as a continuation of that stance. He’s basically saying that he’s a single-issue voter, on foreign policy, and thinks that Obama is closer to his views on that issue than McCain.

    He justifies it to himself by saying basically that he thinks that Obama will actually listen to those who have differnt views on the non-foreign policy issues (and by extension, that McCain would not, though he doesn’t explicitly say this).

    Skip (73e6c3)

  8. If you finish reading the article it’s fairly obvious. Kmiec is repudiating the Bush foreign policy stance, and therefore can’t support McCain, who he sees as a continuation of that stance.

    But earlier he endorsed Romney who was, foreign policy-wise, McCain-“light”. Not a whole lot of space betweent the two.

    SteveMG (199ffb)

  9. But didn’t Romney favor the same tough foreign policy that McCain favors?

    Why would Kmiec endorse Romney and then Obama? It doesn’t make sense unless he’s completely changed his position.

    Daryl Herbert (4ecd4c)

  10. Just remember that Obama voted AGAINST both Roberts and Alito. Kmiec is clearly in the grip of McCain Derangement Syndrome. He wants Obama to win so that a “real” Republican can save the day.

    So how does that “listening” that Obama does fit in with his prior voting record? Or is that a sly reference to Reverend Wright?

    Let’s see. Another Jimmy Carter, but with the ability to appoint probably three Supremes. And Kmiec thinks that Obama will think about he, Kmiec, feels as he nominates Lawrence Tribe to the Supreme Court, in a Democratically controlled Senate?

    Insane. You don’t have to like McCain. You can even say that you cannot vote for him (though I don’t agree). But saying that you will vote for Obama because you THINK he will be sympathetic to you (even though the voting record does not support that conclusion)?


    Eric Blair (2708f4)

  11. Two thoughts:

    First, it seems Obama has borrowed Steve Jobs’ Reality Distortion Field and has been using it on certain Republican law professors.

    Second, though he doesn’t mention it, I’m guessing some form of Campaign Finance Reform backlash was pushing Kmiec towards Obama.

    Matthew Stinson (b1267c)

  12. Stef:

    “Barack Obama says he wants to appoint Justices with a big heart”


    Pretty much, yes.

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  13. Kmiec wrote this on March 12th:

    “So, Democrats, take your time. Call each other names, play the race card and the gender card. You’re not missing anything important. The only chance the Republicans have of winning any district outside Orange County, Calif., (if that) is to track down Colin Powell. Not because he’s black necessarily—though that’s helpful when you’re likely competing against a Lincoln-esque, Kennedy-esque, Martin Luther King Jr.-esque guy who could teach Benjamin Disraeli a thing or two about political speechifying.

    How could he not be for Obama after that slathering of gush? And yet as he is Catholic and a Republican, its interesting that he believes Iraq supercedes pro-life matters. There is some irony there.

    Dana (fba430)

  14. I guess that does rule out the wingnuts.

    stef (b9fdac)

  15. Wow. Never seen someone so intent on not being a ‘Typical White Person’.

    The man doth protest too much, methinks…

    MunDane (d3328f)

  16. Timothy Watson:

    Early April Fools’ Day joke?

    You may be on to something there. This is not the first time Kmiec has written something asstastically stupid on or around April Fool’s Day.

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  17. I cannot stand McCain. But, given the alternatives, I cannot imagine someone that was actually even moderately conservative eschewing Mcain for Obama. It makes no sense, on any level.

    JD (6f5e4a)

  18. There’s no question that McCain is more closely allied with the Bush strategy in Iraq than Romney.

    But compare, for example, this Romney speech to the CFR:

    with what Kmiec says he wants. It pretty closely matches. Of course, you can also compare it to McCain’s speech to the CFR from about the same time:

    And while there are many similarities there, there are some differences. The main thing I see is that McCain is focused on foreign countries. Iraq. Pakistan. Afghanstan. Iran. Romney’s foreign policy ideas on these issues are more focused on radical Islam, and not specific foreign countries. This is, I think, the crucial difference to Kmiec, and he’s deluded himself into thinking that Obama shares his views.

    I also suspect that Kmiec, like many conservatives, has a visceral distaste for McCain. Lord knows that if I could convince myself that the Democrat nominee wasn’t going to be a total disaster I’d be voting for him/her. Instead, I’m just convinced that a disaster is coming either way, and can’t really convince myself that the 8 years of damage guaranteed if McCain wins isn’t worse than the 4 years of damage guaranteed if the Dem does.

    Skip (73e6c3)

  19. Anytime something like this happens with a so-called conservative I do a google news archive search to see which media outlets have invited him on frequently.

    NPR has had him on a thousand times and they aren’t going to invite someone on their shows who will be a strong advocate for the conservative point of view. At least not more than once or twice. WaPo and the other usual suspects had him in their tool box as well.

    j curtis (c84b9e)

  20. This guy is another “conservative” like Larry Sabato who lied about George Allen in the campaign in 2006 when he was accused of racist speech in college. Sabato, a professor often interviewed on TV as a “conservative” said he heard Allen use the “N word” but <a href=”later retreated when challenged.

    Another alleged college “friend” recounted an incident about Allen that turned out to be something from the current news and never happened when Allan was in college. Sabato is back on TV with all of that forgotten, but not by me.

    Kmeic is another of these phony conservatives who will sell out his mother (grandmother ?) for a good press. Maybe he’s hoping for a USSC nomination. Fat chance.

    Mike K (b9ce3e)

  21. HMMMM, kinda makes you wonder what kind of organization Romney was running over there. Perhaps he was the liberal, surrounded by liberals, we thought he was early on in the process.

    Let’s face it- we may not love McCain but atleast we know what we are getting (and that he doesn’t really like us).

    DEMETRI (c3f397)

  22. Kmiec was co-chair of the Romney for President Advisory Committee on the Constitution and the Courts.

    Oooooh! Bet that gets the chicks!

    Please enlighten me as to why we care what a C-list functionary from a defunct campaign does with his endorsement? I know I wasn’t waiting with bated breath for the political equivalent of “spear carrier #4” to say his line.

    Honestly. “Co-Chair of the Advisory Committee on the Constitution and the Courts”? Wheeee! What a lofty perch to pontificate from. Perhaps he felt owed 15 minutes of… fame?

    Doubtless I should be agog at his wisdom and impressed by his choice, but frankly, it carries no more weight than Gert-at-the-Kroger’s endorsement.

    And Gert’s endorsement was a lot less windy.

    heldmyw (61442a)

  23. If my only choces for president were Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, then yeah, I’d pick Mr Obama — but that’s really the only situation in which I’d rather see him as president than someone else.

    As far as the policies we could expect from either of the two Democrats, there really isn’t a dime’s worth of difference; it really comes down to personal issues, and there Mr Obama clearly has Mrs Clinton beat.

    Dana (3e4784)

  24. What Mr Obama has expressed on judicial appointments is pretty much the typical liberal pap: they are looking for judges who will applied their ideas of justice rather than do something radical like follow the law as passed by the legislature. At least he’s honest about it — which isn’t saying much.

    Dana (3e4784)

  25. This is really interesting! This is the best thing I have ever seen!

    Derrick (b65111)

  26. “What Mr Obama has expressed on judicial appointments is pretty much the typical liberal pap: they are looking for judges who will applied their ideas of justice rather than do something radical like follow the law as passed by the legislature.”

    For example, the judge that invented a new standing doctrine — not in any law passed by the legislature — to keep undocumented immigrants from suing for their constitutional rights.

    stef (b3778e)

  27. MikeK, you’re wrong about Sabato. He did seem a bit too sure of himself when discussing other people’s recollections about Allen saying the N-word in college, but he never claimed to have heard it himself. That part was Allah’s fantasy. You may be right about Kmiec, though.

    Derrick: You told me that my Kmiec post was the best thing you had ever seen. I’m crushed.

    Stef: construing a clear constitutional provision (“case or controversy”) in a manner Stef disapproves of is hardly the same thin gas “inventing” a new doctrine. Besides, the issue was illegal aliens, not “undocumented” ones. Any legal aliens who merely lack documentation to prove their status are unaffected by the ruling. I’m sure ICE has ample records to re-document them if needed.

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  28. Any legal aliens who merely lack documentation to prove their status are unaffected by the ruling.

    Touche! (If you have lost your green you can get a stamp in your passport in about two hours at BCIS’s Chicago Office for until replacement which is good for reentry too.)

    nk (34c5da)

  29. “I want people on the bench who have enough empathy, enough feeling, for what ordinary people are going through.”

    I want people on the bench who are good cribbage players. In both his case and mine, we want people on the bench with qualities having nothing to do with what is actually needed.

    Crimso (8aa80d)

  30. *green card*. I don’t think BCIS will replace your money. 😉 Actually that whole last comment could use a good rewrite. Levi must be infectious.

    nk (34c5da)

  31. undocumented immigrants

    Isn’t illegal alien a more accurate description?

    JD (75f5c3)

  32. Kmiec must have seen the “Yes We Can” video and been hypnotized!

    BJ (0d78f4)

  33. “Stef: construing a clear constitutional provision (”case or controversy”) in a manner Stef disapproves of is hardly the same thin gas “inventing” a new doctrine”

    He called it a prudential standing doctrine — not constitutional standing. And he did call it new. And for some reason he did not follow supreme court precedent for how prudential standing doctrine is made. It is true that this is something I disapprove of.

    Its radicalness is shown by several hypotheticals where someone loses standing to challenge a constitutional violation because they are in violation of a different ordinance.

    As for heart, I’d start by asking that judicial nominees explain how their philosophy would rule in the case of Brown vs. Board of Ed, or Loving vs. VA.

    stef (d10c75)

  34. “John McCain… Why you are refusing to support him?”

    Um, he’s a power-mad maniac?

    Nick Danger (2e9f3a)

  35. Maybe Doug just wants to be able to claim that he endorsed a candidate who lost a primary on each side this season. This really is an unjustified and unjustifiable act on his part; Mirengoff’s take seems on the money.

    Simon Dodd (fb192d)

  36. Check the real estate records and see if Kmiec has bought a house lately. And how much he paid.

    PrestoPundit (ff5e16)

  37. If I thought that Obama would be more than a failed President once people saw through the empty rhetoric, I would be able to find a silver lining in the African-American thing. Even though he taxed my socks off.

    Sadly, though, America would wake up to find that they had a hard-Left President who owed his soul to the Illinois Combine. That a man who is fronting for the most corrupt political machine in the country can say he’s going to clean up Washington should tell you just how successful he’ll be.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  38. there’s no lunacy like christian lunacy.

    assistant devil's advocate (27e83d)

  39. I never knew that lunacy was sectarian.

    Thanks for the update.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  40. Yawn. If I thought Obama sewing up the all-important Doug Kmiec endorsement had any chance of swaying any meaningful portion of the electorate, I’d at least feign concern.

    the wolf (a7bcae)

  41. Several commenters have questioned Prof. Kmiec’s conservative credentials so, having gotten to know Prof. Kmiec when he was my Con Law professor, I feel obligated to point out that the real reason behind this is more likely the exact opposite: He’s fallen in with that bad crowd known as the McCain’s No Conservative So We’re Better Off With A Democrat camp.

    No, that position makes no sense, especially when (as Prof. Kmiec must surely know) 2 or 3 SupCt seats will be up for grabs in the next Administration. But Romney persuaded a lot of otherwise bright people that he was the only viable conservative and McCain was too much a RINO to support.

    Or maybe his daughters are finishing school and he’s ready to head back to DC so he’s selfishly throwing in with the guy he thinks will win despite his principles. Who knows? But it isn’t because he’s not really a conservate.

    Dodd (fbfada)

  42. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the – Web Reconnaissance for 03/24/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

    David M (447675)

  43. while lunacy exists generally in many faiths, in the set of serious contenders for the american presidency, it is distinctly christian. doug kmiec’s rationale was incoherent. he’s against gay marriage because he wants to recognize the significance of heterosexual couples as the fundamental procreative unit. most of us have known for quite some time that gay couples can’t produce children naturally, at least within the limits of current technology, what is this, heterosexual fertility awareness day? when he says religious freedom doesn’t mean mindless exclusion from the public square, he’s actually calling for his catholic god to take over the public square. for those of you unfamiliar with history, the catholic god doesn’t share space or play nice with other gods.

    instead of electing the next president based on our collective interest, we’re being treated to competing visions of a mythical old man in the sky. huckabee asked romney if he believed that jesus and satan were brothers, and a significant portion of the electorate hung on the answer. obama’s pastor is now an issue, so is mccain’s. if hillary has a pastor, she’s (properly) keeping him in an icebox somewhere. worst of all, this is going to go on for months, all the way to the august conventions, then on to november. it is not in our collective interest to pick a president this way.

    assistant devil's advocate (27e83d)

  44. Could it be that he’s tired of the warmongering, race-baiting, immigrant bashing focus of the Republican party?

    I kid. Actually, duplicating Skip’s comment above, Kmiec actually says why right here:

    In pursuit of these fatally flawed purposes, the office of the presidency, which it was once my privilege to defend in public office formally, has been distorted beyond its constitutional assignment. Today, I do no more than raise the defense of that important office anew, but as private citizen.

    Unlike many “conservatives” Kmiec is blessed both with actual principles and some knowledge of the Constitution. That goes a long way towards explaining his endorsement. And he’s hardly alone.

    Xanthippas (296e6f)

  45. Perhaps, ada, we can blame Kmiec’s “lunacy” on his law degree, rather than his faith?

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  46. I don’t get it! I have much love and respect for this man, an amazing conservative professor…. Yet after listing all the issues upon which he disagrees with Obama, the only reason he gives for supporting Obama is the war. And he admits that Obama hasn’t taken a stance on Islamic terrorism. This endorsement makes no sense! Perhaps this is all from an intense disdain of McCain?

    Pepperdine Law Student (3bfd2e)

  47. Kmiec was the sole Republican whoring for Harriet Miers on show after show. There were references to ethically questionable use of funds and amount he was making representing some Republican outfit. Maybe Eliot could fill us in: Spitzer or swallows?

    Name Withheld (a4f9c3)

  48. Kmiec is a sincere conservative. I believe that his endorsement of Obama may be partly explained by his understanding of Obama’s integrity. Kmiec and Obama both have a Chicago background and Kmiec and Obama probably have many mutual acquaintances which he can rely upon as sources. Kmiec as a Republican insider is probably well aware of McCains many deficits.

    fblaze (359485)

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