She's more likely than not to win confirmation to the Supreme Court. Thus, the really big question about Elena Kagan is blunter: How and when does the United States as a whole get out from under the sway of an alien enterprise such as her university, Harvard?
That the Kagan nomination positions one more Harvard graduate to tighten the Harvard-Yale vise on the court no more than reintroduces the consideration that Harvard isn't notably fond of the American Main Street. Out of Harvard, on a nonstop basis, pour some of America's worst ideas, such as that government has all the answers, old moralities have to go, and racism and sexism infest America -- though not Harvard, you better believe it! -- from top to bottom.
The old chestnut of a Harvard joke turns out to have merit: You can always tell a Harvard man, but you can't tell him much. It's because he -- and these days, she as well -- doesn't need to be told the rest of us are wrong about many things.
Back to Kagan, whose Harvard career underscores with splotches of crimson paint the Harvard community's intellectual and emotional remoteness from America.
Among other topics, the Kagan confirmation hearings will also bring to mind her and her university's long and deep resistance to allowing U.S. military recruiters on campus. Let us think that one through. The dean of the Harvard Law School is against affording her country's government a facility to meet with potential leaders of the very forces pledged to guarantee her country's freedoms. True, by the time she became law school dean, the Bush administration had threatened to take away Harvard's federal money if it persisted in resisting recruiters. Kagan submitted reluctantly to the new order. "I abhor the military's discriminatory policy," she said.
That was the matter in a nutshell: the military's "don't ask, don't tell" rule respecting gay and lesbian personnel. The policy violated Harvardian sensibilities. The military shouldn't judge its own policies for maintaining discipline -- not when Harvard could do the job better. Dean Kagan agreed in essence. Senators will certainly quiz her on this point at the confirmation hearings.
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