WASHINGTON -- Sen. Barack Obama recently told some Iowa farmers that prices of their crops are not high enough, considering what grocers are charging for other stuff: "Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?" Living near the University of Chicago, Obama has perhaps experienced this outrage, but Iowans, who have no Whole Foods stores, might remember 1987, when Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis urged Iowa farmers to diversify by raising endive. Said a farmer to a Boston reporter, "Your governor scared me just a hair."
Obama is not scary, just disappointing. Regarding a matter more serious than vegetables -- a judicial confirmation -- he looks like just another liberal on a leash. His candidacy kindled hope that he might bring down the curtain on the long-running and intensely boring melodrama "Forever Selma," starring Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. It was hoped Obama would be impatient with the ritualized choreography of synthetic indignation that degrades racial discourse. He is, however, unoriginal and unjust regarding the nomination of Leslie Southwick to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, whose jurisdiction is Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
Southwick, currently a law professor, joined the Army Reserve in 1992 at age 42 and in 2003 transferred to a National Guard combat unit heading to Iraq, where he served 17 months. He is now 57 and until last December was a member of a Mississippi appellate court. The American Bar Association, not a nest of conservatives, has given him its highest rating ("well qualified") for the 5th Circuit.
But because he is a white Mississippian, many liberals consider him fair game for unfairness. Many say his defect is "insensitivity," an accusation invariably made when specific grievances are few and flimsy.
Obama, touching all the Democratic nominating electorate's erogenous zones, concocts a tortured statistic about Southwick's "disappointing record on cases involving consumers, employees, racial minorities, women and gays and lesbians. After reviewing his 7,000 opinions, Judge Southwick could not find one case in which he sided with a civil rights plaintiff in a non-unanimous verdict." Surely the pertinent question is whether Southwick sided with the law.