I did a double take when I saw that Doug Kmiec, a well respected and prominent conservative legal scholar who headed the Office of Legal Counsel in both the Reagan and first Bush administrations, has endorsed Barack Obama. It’s all the more surprising given that he recently was Co-Chairman of the Romney Campaign’s Committee for the Courts and the Constitution. So what brought on his change of heart? Excerpt below the fold:
In various ways, Sen. Barack Obama and I may disagree on aspects of these important fundamentals, but I am convinced, based upon his public pronouncements and his personal writing, that on each of these questions he is not closed to understanding opposing points of view and, as best as it is humanly possible, he will respect and accommodate them.
No doubt some of my friends will see this as a matter of party or intellectual treachery. I regret that, and I respect their disagreement. But they will readily agree that as Republicans, we are first Americans. As Americans, we must voice our concerns for the well-being of our nation without partisanship when decisions that have been made endanger the body politic. Our president has involved our nation in a military engagement without sufficient justification or a clear objective. In so doing, he has incurred both tragic loss of life and extraordinary debt jeopardizing the economy and the well-being of the average American citizen. In pursuit of these fatally flawed purposes, the office of the presidency, which it was once my privilege to defend in public office formally, has been distorted beyond its constitutional assignment. Today, I do no more than raise the defense of that important office anew, but as private citizen.
Sept. 11 and the radical Islamic ideology that it represents is a continuing threat to our safety, and the next president must have the honesty to recognize that it, as author Paul Berman has written, “draws on totalitarian inspirations from 20th-century Europe and with its double roots, religious and modern, perversely intertwined. … wields a lot more power, intellectually speaking, then naïve observers might suppose.” Sen. Obama needs to address this extremist movement with the same clarity and honesty with which he has addressed the topic of race in America. Effective criticism of the incumbent for diverting us from this task is a good start, but it is incomplete without a forthright outline of a commitment to undertake, with international partners, the formation of a worldwide entity that will track, detain, prosecute, convict, punish, and thereby stem radical Islam’s threat to civil order. I await Sen. Obama’s more extended thinking upon this vital subject as he accepts the nomination of his party and engages Sen. McCain in the general campaign discussion to come.
I doubt this will mean much to the public, who wouldn’t know Doug Kmiec from the man in the moon. But it’s a fascinating change of mind for a well respected scholar.