It seems that Kagan has been very good at influencing professors and that Obama read that (and his own direct contact with her) to mean that she’ll be good at influencing Supreme Court Justices. That may be a poor inference. I think a law school dean is engaged in more of a social enterprise in bringing groups of people together. But the Justices — as the oral argument shows — deal in much more technical legal arguments. They may bend liberal or conservative, but the arguments need to be there. Justice Kennedy isn’t there to be sweet-talked and smiled at. He’s quite serious in mulling over the details. He’s not movable because he’s weak or wishy-washy. He’d be affronted, I would think, to know that anyone thought of him that way. I think he sees himself and wants to be seen as carefully thinking through the issues in a highly respectable judicial way.