For Kagan, politics sometimes came first
WASHINGTON — As a Clinton White House aide, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan called herself one of the Clinton administration’s biggest fans of a law to protect religious freedom but warned then-Vice President Al Gore against endorsing it for fear of creating “a gay/lesbian firestorm.’’
In a 1999 e-mail, Kagan said the White House was meeting with religious and gay groups to try to smooth over their differences on the matter.
“We’ll let you know as soon as it’s safe to go back in the water,’’ she wrote to Ron Klain, who was Gore’s chief of staff and now holds the same job for Vice President Joe Biden.
The missive — one of tens of thousands of pages of Kagan’s e-mails released yesterday — shows how as an aide to President Clinton, Kagan’s job was often to place political considerations ahead of her policy views.
The e-mails also portray Kagan as a driven and highly opinionated person who has a flair for political tactics and little tolerance for high-flying rhetoric.
Shortly after Clinton gave his second inaugural address, Kagan e-mailed her boss, Bruce Reed, the director of the Domestic Policy Council, to say she thought one of the president’s marquee lines quoting the prophet Isaiah was “the most preposterously presumptuous line I have ever seen.’’
The line — often referenced in discussions of mending racial discord — is “Thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations, and thou shalt be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in.’’
Kagan tells Reed in the note that Clinton would deserve it if “the press really came down on him’’ for delivering it.
At the beginning of her stint as a domestic policy aide, Kagan described her management style to a colleague this way: “I want to be kept generally up to speed on everything. Thanks.’’
Later that year, she suggested transforming what was supposed to be a routine literacy event at a Maryland school into a chance to score points against the Republican Congress. At the time, administration was pushing for a national standardized test to measure student progress and the GOP was expected to try to block funding for the exam.
“We are in a fight for our lives on the testing initiative,’’ Kagan wrote. “We cannot waste Sept. 8 on a sweetness-and-light literacy event. We’re all going to have to work together to make this problem disappear.’’
The e-mails were part of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library’s final release of documents related to Kagan’s service as a domestic policy aide and White House counsel. The Senate Judiciary Committee requested the documents in preparation for its hearings on Kagan’s nomination, scheduled to begin June 28.
It’s the third week in a row the files were made public on a Friday afternoon — the customary time in official Washington for dribbling out unfavorable information or disclosures one hopes won’t draw too much attention.
“I’m under no illusion that we’re where we need to be yet,’’ Obama said during a visit to the capital of a state he won in 2008 with 51 percent of the vote.
The event was a groundbreaking for the 10,000th road project funded by stimulus money, and it gave the president an occasion to leave Washington and promote progress on jobs.
Flanked by workers, Obama cited increasing signs of economic vitality, including evidence that businesses are starting to hire again. But he said that’s not enough. “There are still too many people here in Ohio and across the country who can’t find work,’’ Obama said.
The recession hit hard in Ohio, where unemployment hit 11 percent in March, the highest since September 1983. New figures yesterday showed the rate dipped to 10.7 percent in May.
A growing number of independent economic analyses suggest the $862 billion stimulus law has boosted jobs and kept people off the unemployment line, though exactly how many jobs is a matter of dispute.