As evidence that on judicial appointments, his candidate isn't "quite the knee-jerk liberal base-pleaser some want us to believe," Andrew marshals this Daily Kos guest post from 2005, in which Obama defends Russell Feingold's and Pat Leahy's votes to confirm John Roberts to the Supreme Court. And Andrew's right, in a sense: The post is in many respects a brave and thoughtful rebuke to the Kossack, scorched-earth style of politics, and an eloquent defense of the tradition that gives Presidents the benefit of the doubt when they appoint obviously-qualified nominees to the high court.
The only thing undercutting all this bravery is the fact that Obama himself voted against John Roberts, because Obama himself actually agreed with the the liberal base that "too much is at stake here and now, in terms of privacy issues, civil rights, and civil liberties, to give ... Roberts the benefit of the doubt," all those high-minded thoughts notwithstanding. But he wanted the Kossacks - and us - to know that his decision wasn't a knee-jerk one, that it was made in a careful, contemplative fashion, and that he understands (as he always does) why someone else might have come to a different conclusion.
The results are the same, but the style is so much more thoughtful.
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