Kagan Nomination Puts Arlen Specter in a Bind

He was against Kagan before he was for her--and before he was a threatened Democrat

This article is from the archive of our partner .

Obama's nomination of Elena Kagan has left Senator Arlen Specter in quite a bind. When the Pennsylvania Democrat was a Republican, he opposed her nomination for solicitor general. This stance now looks a bit bad, and it doesn't help Specter as he faces a tough primary challenge from Representative Joe Sestak. His explanation of his former opposition to Kagan has amounted to something along the lines of "that was different." How does this impact his chances?

  • Not a Great Explanation  "How does Specter plan to navigate this inconvenient truth in the upcoming confirmation battle? If this statement is any indication, poorly," proclaims National Review's Daniel Foster. He quotes Specter: "I voted against her for Solicitor General because she wouldn't answer basic questions about her standards for handling that job. It is a distinctly different position than that of a Supreme Court Justice." His reaction: "Huh, and here I'd always though that SG and Associate Justice were indistinctly different positions."
  • No Kidding  Wonkette's Jim Newell responds to Specter's statement with characteristically cutting hyperbole. "Specter would really help himself more if he just said, 'I voted against her because I was a REPUBLICAN AND WE HAD TO, YOU IDIOTS, THAT’S WHY I SWITCHED PARTIES…'
  • Actually, It's a Pretty Good Explanation, says Big Tent Democrat at Talk Left. Specter had said at the time that his problem lay in not knowing "very much more about [Kagan] now than I did when we started the process." Says Big Tent Democrat: " In my view, this is precisely the attitude that the Senate should take towards all judicial nominees."
  • So Good That Republicans Will Be Using It  When Specter stated his problems with Kagan before, it was for the position merely of solicitor general. The Weekly Standard's John McCormack posts part of an email from a Republican aide on the Hill in which Specter's objections are brought up: "Surely Ms. Kagan's constitutional and legal views are more relevant to a lifetime position as an Associate Justice, than they are to a temporary position as an advocate."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.