It's more than a little tiresome to contemplate that every current liberal Supreme Court justice was touted by the national media as a moderate or even a conservative when they were originally announced, from John Paul Stevens to Sonia Sotomayor. Dan Rather even claimed the last retiree, David Souter, was dangerously "anti-women's rights" when he was nominated in 1990. So it was less than shocking that the latest liberal nominee, Elena Kagan, drew the same phony "moderate" baloney.
ABC anchor Diane Sawyer greeted the nomination with goo: "She is expected to play a role as somewhat of a conciliator, the bridge across the conservative and liberal wings of the court. In fact, she loves opera, which Justice Scalia loves." What more evidence of her judicial philosophy do we need? CBS reporter Lesley Stahl announced on MSNBC that she was a conciliator that could bring the two parties together, just like Obama, conveniently placing both of them in the political middle. Washington Post editorialist Eva Rodriguez even complained that her terrorist-detention cases as solicitor general might suggest she looks like a "hard-right ideologue who would have fit right in" with Team Bush.
As with Sotomayor & Co., media liberals greeted Kagan's record as a great mystery, and because of that, no one should "pigeonhole" this woman as a liberal. But there it was in black and white in a sympathetic New York Times profile. She spent the summer of 1980 working to elect a left-wing Democrat, Elizabeth Holtzman, to the Senate. "On Election Night, she drowned her sorrow in vodka and tonic as Ronald Reagan took the White House and Ms. Holtzman lost to 'an ultraconservative machine politician,' she wrote, named Alfonse D'Amato."
Maybe she's not a liberal. If she thinks Al D'Amato is an "ultraconservative," then she might just be a radical leftist.
What may be a little more surprising is that liberal reporters were touting Kagan as a centrist before Obama won the White House. On Oct. 30, 2008, National Public Radio legal reporter Nina Totenberg insisted Obama would name a woman to the high court, and "the names mentioned most often as possible Obama appointments tend to the center-left. They include federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor (who has the additional plus of being Hispanic), Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, and some commentators have talked about Hillary Clinton."
There you have it: NPR's definition of a roomful of centrists.