On the day confirmation hearings begin for Obama Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, The Washington Post stresses on the front page that Kagan has been an "elusive GOP target." The Post website summarized: "Republicans have struggled to find a compelling line of attack to take against the Supreme Court nominee. But their efforts have largely failed."
When Republicans nominate a Supreme Court justice, it's the liberal media that aids their favorite activists in creating "compelling lines of attack." But when Democrats do it, the journalists not only skip over the attacks, they also praise the Democrats for their political skills. Post reporters Anne Kornblut and Paul Kane suggested that the oil spill and the McChrystal hubbub have pushed Kagan out of attention, but also lauded the "skilled operatives" of Team Obama:
But it is also a measure of how skilled operatives have become at managing the process -- and choosing nominees who are notable in part for their political blandness....
In part, the attention has been muted because Obama has not chosen outspoken liberals in either of his first two opportunities to influence the makeup of the court. Kagan, who would replace Justice John Paul Stevens, would not tilt the court's ideological balance. So the stakes are lower than if she had been picked to replace a conservative, participants on both sides said.
She is also an especially elusive target: a politically savvy operator who has no record of judicial rulings and has spent much of her career carefully positioning herself for the next step.
Who else is elusive to the Post? Conservative activists, who are nowhere to be found in the Kornblut-Kane story -- unlike a liberal lobbyist for People for the American Way. (Sen. Jeff Sessions is the only opposition figure quoted.)
This claim, that Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor are baronesses of "blandness," too "elusive" to be identified as liberals, is simply bizarre. To say that Sotomayor's lobbying at left-wing Latino organizations or Kagan's clerking for ultraliberal Justice Thurgood Marshall isn't identifiably liberal is counter-factual.
For contrast, please see The Washington Post's front page story on Bush Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito on the first day of his confirmation hearings on January 9, 2006. He was a staunch Reaganite. The story relentlessly repeated how conservative he was. "Blandness" was not on the menu. Reporters Jo Becker and Dale Russakoff began:
The captains of the Reagan revolution at the Justice Department had two big concerns about a bookish new recruit named Samuel A. Alito Jr., who arrived in 1981: his blank slate as a conservative activist and his pedigree from a perceived bastion of legal liberalism.
"I wouldn't let most people from Yale Law School wash my car, let alone write my briefs," said Michael A. Carvin, a political deputy at the department.
Six years later, the revolutionaries saw Alito as one of them, tapping him to become U.S. attorney in New Jersey in 1987 and eventually, they hoped, a judge. Speaking on a New Jersey public affairs television program, the young prosecutor showcased the philosophy that had won the confidence of his Washington mentors.
Asked his opinion of President Ronald Reagan's nomination of Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court, Alito gave a ringing defense of the conservative icon he said had been "unjustifiably rejected" by the Senate in one of the most ideologically polarizing nomination battles in decades.
There weren't any professional liberal activists in the piece -- other than the Post reporters themselves.
PS: The Post also topped the Style section with Alito-as-conservative news: a Marcia Davis profile of Jan LaRue of Concerned Women for America, the "fierce" conservative activist and evangelical Christian and "street fighter" for Alito. There was no liberals-for-Kagan article in Style on Kagan's first hearing day.