For weeks, Republicans have knocked Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan for being more of a partisan than a jurist, having spent portions of her career in political posts. The charge stems from Kagan's time in the Clinton administration, where she served on the Domestic Policy Council, and has been rebuffed repeatedly by Kagan during her confirmation hearings.
On Wednesday, however, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) -- going rogue, perhaps -- turned the attack on its head, insisting that it would be "disturbing... frankly" that Kagan didn't have an agenda. After all, he said, both of George W. Bush's appointees to the Court -- Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito -- were, at one point in time, driven by political motivations.
"Wait a minute. Wait a minute," Graham said, when Kagan insisted that she had no agenda with respect to the advice she gave Clinton on partial birth abortion.
"I certainly have an agenda when it comes to abortion. I respect the courts, but I'm trying to push the rights of the unborn in a respectful way. You can be pro-choice and be just as patriotic as I am; you can be just as religious as anybody I know. But that's the point here: it is okay as an advocate to have an agenda. I think Alito and Roberts had an agenda. They were working for a conservative president who was pushing conservative policies. So it just is a bit disturbing that you, quite frankly, say you don't have an agenda when you should have had. If I'm going to hire you to be my lawyer, I want you to have my agenda. I want it to be my agenda."
And with that, a month's worth of Republican attack lines were stunted.
Graham, to be certain, could merely have been trying to trip Kagan up, coyly tempting her to cop to a political bias that she has steadfastly denied. But consider the good rapport the two have had throughout the confirmation hearings (indeed, stemming back to Kagan's nomination as solicitor general) that seems unlikely. Considering that the senator charged two Republican legal stalwarts with also having agendas prior to being confirmed to the bench, it seems even more likely that he was not reading off of the GOP playbook.