Elena Kagan and the Politics of Diversion

I’ve long ago given up trying to divine what this particular White House is up to. There was a time when I thought they were just stupid. Then I thought they were evil. I’m slowly coming around to the all embracing power of “and”. But right now I can’t figure out what the game is.


I think this whole story started back in mid April when my friend and colleague, Ben Domenech, posted a story at The New Ledger and at CBSNews handicapping the administration’s potential picks to replace the decrepit, confused, and retiring Justice Stevens.

1. Elena Kagan (49), Solicitor General of the United States. The likeliest candidate, and it was somewhat of a surprise she didn’t get picked last time. Pluses: would please much of Obama’s base, follows diversity politics of Sotomayor with first openly gay justice (so would Karlan and Sullivan).

To most people that would be a fairly non-controversial statement. Apparently quite a number of her associates were laboring under the same delusion. (Heck, I don’t even know her and I thought she was gay.)

Anyway what was in the worst interpretation a harmless error — we are after all at the point where out lesbians have their own television shows — which a normal press office would have cleared up with a phone call suddenly became the focus of a very vigorous effort by the White House to push back on the story.


It isn’t like Ms. Kagan’s sexual orientation is going to cost her votes at her confirmation hearing. There are any number of possible reasons and given the EPIC level of numbskullery we’ve seen from this Administration in 37 two extraordinarily long years any of them are possible with the least plausible being the most likely.

Theory 1. Obama isn’t comfortable with gays.
I don’t know. He has appointed a pedophile as Safe Schools Czar so it’s hard to credit that he’s uncomfortable around a run of the mill lesbian. On the other hand he has reneged on his pledge to abolish DADT in the military and the African American community, one of his core constituencies, is arguably one of the least gay-friendly demographics in the country. Maybe he’s only comfortable with closeted gays. None of this explains why he’d nominate someone who is gay (and my working premise here, as with virtually any dealing with the White House, is that the White House is lying), deny she’s gay, and then have a former sweetheart crash a White House party.


Theory 2. He’s pandering.
Fine. All politicians do it. And this theory holds that Obama is pandering to African Americans and to the bitter-clingers who he’ll need to check their brains at the door and vote for him in 2012. But the question remains. Why would he nominate a lesbian and lie about it when he could have nominated a equally qualified justice who was straight?

Theory 3. Diversion, simple form.
Obama knows she’s gay and he knows it will eventually come out. He’s doing this so that when it does come out he can claim that her sexual orientation isn’t anyone’s business and belittle everyone for running with the story (while ignoring the fact that the only reason anyone cares is that his press office has made such a big deal about denying it). Or he could be using it as a technique to divert attention from her incredibly light legal record (it would seem that I’ve written more legal analyses at RedState than Kagan has as an attorney.)

Theory 4. Diversion, Robert Ludlum version.
Obama knows she’s gay but there is more hidden away either in a choice of partners or activities or something else that is very unseemly, or at least more unseemly. If it was acknowledged she was gay, that would be the starting point for newspaper features on her. By denying she’s gay, he’s causing the media to burn valuable time trying to substantiate what would have been a given. This means that time can’t be used to probe deeper.

So what we have out of this, other than knowing that Kagan plays that quintessential lesbian sport softball, is nothing. All evidence indicates that the White House is lying. The question is why. And maybe Occam’s Razor provides a clue to the answer.


Growing up in the South we had an expression for people who were just gratuitous liars. You’ve met them before. The guy who you watch having bacon and eggs for breakfast but if you ask him later in the day he’ll tell you he has Rice Krispies. We used to say that they lied just to keep in practice.

Maybe that’s the reason behind this kerfuffle.


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