Just Another Way of Voting "Present"

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: May 28, 2009 3:22 PM
President Obama avoids taking stands on controversial issues whenever he can -- hence his proclivity for voting "present" when the tough issues came up during his legislative career.

By nominating Judge Sotomayor, what Obama is trying to do is find a way to get his agenda enacted from a (politically) comfortable distance.  After all, he can't plausibly claim not to know and/or understand all about the judge's rulings, history and legal ideology; he's a lawyer and presumably a very smart one.

So what does it tell you about the real Barack Obama that he nominates a judge who ruled that -- unlike the rest of the Bill of Rights -- the protections of the Second Amendment (the right to bear arms) weren't extended to the states?

Or a judge who ruled that fish must be protected from a power plant regardless of the cost-benefit analysis of doing so?

Or a judge who dismissed real reverse discrimination issues of constitutional import with a one-paragraph opinion -- with so little thought that it earned a slap-down from her mentor, Judge Jose Cabranes?

In other cases, it might be unfair to impute to a non-lawyer President full understanding or support of a judicial nominee's cases.

In this case, however, it's a revealing window into what President Obama really  believes.  He's going to try to get Judge Sotomayor to do his political dirty work for him.