Sunday, February 17, 2008

Barack Obama for Supreme Court Justice

In reading Barack Obama's book The Audacity of Hope, I was struck by how well he fit the stereotype of a politician. He is a waffler. He sees both sides of issues. He empathizes with conservatives and liberals. Having taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School for 10 years before being elected to Congress, he knows the Constitution backwards and forwards, and he sees the flaws in the men who wrote it, many of them slave owners. He understands the concept of strict constructionists, who want to see the document as an absolute template that can only be interpreted by rigid adherence to original intent, but he also sees it as a "living document", whose authors could not possibly have anticipated free speech in the context of a society with telephones, televisions, and computers, or gun ownership in the context of modern assault rifles. Barack Obama is a very complex man with a keen sense of what America is really about. He would make a president, I hope, much in the style of Abraham Lincoln--that consummate Republican liberal who kept looking for and discarding solutions to insoluble problems.

So I was thinking about where his career ought to end up, whether he gains the presidency or not. I would like to see him in the office of the presidency for the next 8 years--years that will see me rapidly approach the end of my life. I have a feeling that there won't ever be another president quite like him in the White House. Not while I'm alive, anyway. But whether he wins or loses the nomination, he strikes me more as someone who ought to be on the Supreme Court. He isn't really a liberal or a conservative. He is a pragmatist who understands the contradictions that pull Americans apart and together. Hopefully, he will be a president. Whether or not he is, I hope that some future president considers him for nomination as a justice on the Supreme Court.

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