May 12, 2010

I thought this sounded bad when I heard the sound byte Ed Schultz played in his Psycho Talk segment. I missed the Larry King Show on CNN the night this aired. After going back and watching the whole thing, Bay Buchanan's hackery about Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor was even worse than the short bit Ed Schultz played.

I'm no fan of David Gergen or James Carville, but they were right to call out Buchanan for her ridiculous arguments here. She loves Harriet Miers and Antonin Scalia but calls Kagan and Sotomayor "not the best and the brightest" as choices for the Supreme Court. As I noted in the other post, there are plenty of reasons someone that someone might object to Kagan's nomination, but calling her stupid isn't one of them. Both of these women are as bright and as qualified as anyone else sitting on that court. As James Carville pointed out in this segment prior to the part I posted, the biggest diversity problem the Supreme Court has now is that there is no one on there who's not a graduate from Harvard or Yale.

As Ed noted in his Psycho Talk segment, this attack is coming from someone who who praised Palin as a great choice for a Vice Presidential candidate and who was singing the praises of her accomplishments. Bay is about as credible as her brother who's got a bad crush on Sarah McQuittyWhileIRakeInTheBucks Palin. They've both got a love affair with the stoopid while trashing those who aren't if they don't fit into their political slant. It's really quite pathetic to watch since it's so transparent.

WOLF BLITZER: Bay Buchanan, do you agree with James on that?

BAY BUCHANAN: I do. I do agree with him, absolutely, Wolf. But I think there's another issue here. It's not -- and that will be used in this debate. The fact that it helps define Democrats and Obama as elitist. Everything is Ivy League. That's what makes you important.

This woman doesn't have any -- she's a blank sheet. The difference between her and Harriet Miers is Ivy League. That's it. And so, you have to wonder, is she truly qualified? Where are the writings?

If you're an academic, you write, you give your opinions, you develop, you know, motivation, certain philosophy. Where is it? There's nothing there.

And so, I have to think that this is just -- this is a very weak appointment.


BLITZER: In fairness and I let David Gergen, pick this up.

David, she was the dean of the Harvard Law School. She was on associate counsel at the Clinton White House. She's a professor of law and the first woman solicitor general in the Justice Department.

DAVID GERGEN: Well, Wolf -- listen, I had the privilege to go to Harvard Law School. I'm a product of the elite schools. But I do agree with the general proposition that James advance, that it's important for the country to have all parts of the country and there are many other law schools. Bay Buchanan has a child at Stanford right now, first class law school. Chicago, there are many other law schools. So, I do think that.

But I also want to put in a word for Elena Kagan who is an excellent nominee. She is no Harriet Miers -- come on, give me a break. She was -- you know, she clerked at the court of appeals level. She clerked at the Supreme Court level. She's -- you know, she has worked at high levels in government.

She was not only an outstanding law professor but she was the first woman to being named dean of Harvard Law School, and conservatives, like Charles Fried, who is solicitor general under Ronald Reagan have written glowing reports about her deanship. She was on the short list to be a president of Harvard University. Probably good for her that she wasn't selected. She would have never made to the Supreme Court.

But she's got outstanding credentials. We've been arguing for years -- every person on the Supreme Court beyond her came up through the court of appeals. We wanted somebody with different kind of experience. President Obama has chosen someone like that.

BLITZER: I want to get James back.

Bay, go ahead and respond to David.

BUCHANAN: Well, you know, you say she was the dean of Harvard Law School. Sure, she was. You know what the dean does? She raises money.

Now, why does raising money make you qualified to be in the Supreme Court? That does not. So, erase that.

If you are an academic and you're -- this is what I don't understand. Where are the brilliant, the brightest left-wing jurists? You know, we have -- we have Scalia on the court. He's brilliant. He's from the right.

You would expect Obama to put one of the best and brightest from the left on there. People who have written and have strong opinions that are creative. It's not there. This is a throw away.

BLITZER: James, go ahead.

CARVILLE: I hate to do this, Bay, but I utterly have to. You criticize her for being from Harvard. Alito, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas -- I mean, every time that a Democrat does that -- oh, it's elitism. And then, come on. I mean, we both got to play this game with some kind of sensibility at this. I'm being critical of the fact that everybody is from Harvard.

Can you just pick on the Democrats? I mean, it's absurd. The problem is, there's a lot of good lawyers that go to other places and I know that of all of the nine positions on the Supreme Court that somebody can find somebody out in the rest of the country. But don't single out Democrats for this for land sakes.

BLITZER: All right, guys. Don't go away. We're going to continue this. A lot more coming up.

LARRY KING LIVE -- right after this.


BLITZER: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Wolf Blitzer, sitting for Larry.

Bay Buchanan, is Elena Kagan going to be confirmed when the dust settles?

BUCHANAN: Yes. She'll definitely get through. I don't think there's any possibility of stopping her. Unless the left comes in and decides to stop her, I don't think she'll be stopped.

But the key here is: do the Republicans challenge her? And I'd say, on that count, absolutely yes because this is a perfect opportunity to raise the issues that here is somebody who doesn't have the guts to even write down opinions over 20-year period, and on top of that, she's from Harvard and she has so out-of-touch with Middle America that she refused to let the military on campus to do recruiting. This is someone out of touch with Middle America and I think that will hurt Obama.

BLITZER: The argument was that because of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy --

BUCHANAN: Absolutely.

BLITZER: -- the discrimination against gays serving openly in the U.S. military, the law schools had no choice.

BUCHANAN: Well, no choice, certainly they had a choice. She was the president. She could have made that statement. It was clear that the Solomon Amendment was there and it was reversed by the Supreme Court of the United States. She may have been able to look at it herself and say this thing is never going to hold up in the -- before the Constitution. And she could also have said, look it, this is America. Of course we let our military come on in here.

BLITZER: Let me ask David Gergen. You're up there in Harvard. Talk a little about this. You know if there's going to be some controversy during the confirmation hearings, this is an issue that could spark some controversy.

GERGEN: Wolf, you know, I've known Elena Kagan for a good number of years, knew her as dean. I thought she was an outstanding dean. This issue is less -- was not as big while she was here as dean as it's become. It is going to be an issue in the confirmation.

I'll tell you this, there are any number of universities now that find the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy to be anathema. They think it's discriminatory against gays and lesbians. Leading members of the military now believe that. You know, generals have -- General Mullen, head of the Joint Chiefs, have testified to that. -- Admiral Mullen. Sorry, and thank you.

But the point is, for many universities, ROTC has been kept off campuses and to a large degree because of this discriminatory policy. And I think she was following in that tradition by not allowing military recruiters on campus. They could still come to, you know, Boston and be here for recruiting purposes. But she was asserting the principal. The faculty had voted its opposition to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The students had voted in opposition to it.

I think she took a principal stance. People can disagree with it. She then faced the potential cutoff of federal funding that was going to really damage the university. And so she agreed to be pragmatic.

BLITZER: The supreme court ruled against her position. James, as someone as son of the south, how big of an issue is this going to be during the confirmation hearings? How will it play?

CARVILLE: First of all, they got to say something. As I recall, she was the first president of -- first dean of a law school that had done it -- she went to West Point and was commended by the commandant of West Point on doing an outstanding job there. I actually think I read somewhere -- and I could be wrong on this -- she actually appeared with General Petraeus. And she allowed -- the recruiters were allowed to talk to the students. She was following university policy.

Look, they're going to make a deal out of it. And she'll have to answer it. She's going to be on the Supreme Court. There is nothing wrong with her sitting down and being grilled and asked about this. If people have concerns about it, they should ask it. I'm sure that she'll have a very good answer. I'm sure there will be a lot of emphasis that she'll show where she has been very friendly towards the military.

BLITZER: Any other problem, Bay, you have with her?

BUCHANAN: Well, you know, there's no question she's smart, and she's a good administrator, and clearly a very fine teacher, somebody who wants to bring people together and compromise. But none of that goes towards the qualifications of a Supreme Court justice. And that's where I have a problem.

She has three law review articles and a handful of short essays. I've written more than this, Wolf. What kind of -- she's been in that business for 20 years. She's hesitant about taking public positions.

BLITZER: Is she qualified now to be a Supreme Court justice than Clarence Thomas when he was nominated?

BUCHANAN: Clarence Thomas had writings. You could go in there. You could say look it -- you might disagree with them, but there he was there to defend them. He had expressed himself. He believed strongly. He studied the law. He showed himself to be someone who believed that you go in a certain direction. And so there's a man that's been working the business of the jurist.

And here she, what is it? The question I think is how did she get tenure in these good universities when she doesn't write? There's nothing there. She is a blank sheet.

BLITZER: I don't know if she's a blank sheet. David, you know her a lot better than I do. Talk about that.

GERGEN: I think the notion that she's not qualified is preposterous on its face. This woman has lived a life in the law, working with brilliant minds at the court of appeals level, at the Supreme Court, now as solicitor general. She held her own against Scalia. She has held her own against John Roberts. She is going to be an intellectual force on the court, on the left side, to be sure. I am sure that if she was on the right side that we would be hearing very different arguments tonight from Bay.

I think you're looking for ways to oppose her that have nothing to do with her real qualifications. Does she have a long history of making gutsy stands, controversial stands? She does not. But I will just say this we've now -- we have established a pattern in this country that if you do have a history of controversial stands, you can't get confirmed or you're going to be mow-mowed in the Senate.

BLITZER: James, what is this nomination say about President Obama?

CARVILLE: You know, I think it says that he looks for qualified people. President Obama likes credentialed people. There is no doubt about that. I agree with David. She's going to be confirmed. She should be confirmed. She's qualified. Look, I got an idea. If it is how much you wrote, I got a suggestion. The next Supreme Court justice should be John Grisham. He's written a lot. He went to Old Miss. And, you know, I think he'd be a dog gone good Supreme Court justice. I read his books. I like the way this guy thinks. He served in the state legislature. I think the next Supreme Court justice should be John Grisham. I think he would do a hell of a job. That way they couldn't complain about somebody who hadn't written anything.

BUCHANAN: Wolf, you know what this says about Obama? He's gone safe. It's an election year. He doesn't want too much controversy. Let's pick somebody that hasn't done anything. Very, very safe. We go to Harvard.

GERGEN: This is not true.

BUCHANAN: It is absolutely true. What makes her qualified? She has -- being a president of Harvard makes you qualified? It does not. What he's done is dummy down. He has dummied down the Supreme Court. He has given two of the best appointments of his administration to people who are not the best and the brightest. That's unfortunate.

BLITZER: Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, both of them, everybody who has dealt with them, including their critics, say their very, very intelligent women.

BUCHANAN: Listen, Harriet Miers is an intelligent woman. She is a fine -- just as fine an attorney as you could be. She is president of the Bar. And I, David, you might want to know this, was opposed to her, because I didn't think she came -- that level, you know --

BLITZER: You didn't think she was conservative enough.

BUCHANAN: I think it should go to the best. This is the Olympics of the -- you know, the legal field.

BLITZER: David go, ahead.

GERGEN: I just don't understand why someone who has lived a life of excellence, someone who has distinguished herself in role after role, including that of solicitor general, can possibly be described as someone who is sort of mediocre. He's gone to a choice of quality. She is not controversial. But we all know, given the polarization and the poison that's in the United States Senate, if you put somebody up there that is controversial, they're going to kill them. They're going to put daggers in them. And so he's gone to someone who is qualified, who is quality, who represents excellence.

BLITZER: James, go ahead. One final thought from you?

CARVILLE: This is stunning. We have the dean of the Harvard law school accusing the president of dumbing down the Supreme Court. That woman might be a lot of things, but I suspect dumb is not one of them.

BLITZER: She is definitely not dumb.

CARVILLE: I don't think the spaghetti is going to stick on the wall.

BUCHANAN: She's no Scalia, James. She's no Scalia.

BLITZER: We'll see how she does with Scalia and with Roberts, if she is confirmed on the Supreme Court. Bay Buchanan, David Gergen, James Carville, guys, thanks very much.

Transcript via CNN.

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