One scans her public speeches looking for a strong opinion, and one comes up empty. In 2005, for example, she delivered a lecture on women and the legal profession. If ever there was a hot-button issue, it’s the mommy wars, the tension between professional success and family pressures. Kagan deftly summarized some of the research showing that while women do well in law school, they are not as likely to rise to senior positions at major firms. But she didn’t exactly take a stand. “What I hope to do is start a conversation,” she said…

What we have is a person whose career has dovetailed with the incentives presented by the confirmation system, a system that punishes creativity and rewards caginess. Arguments are already being made for and against her nomination, but most of this is speculation because she has been too careful to let her actual positions leak out.

There’s about to be a backlash against the Ivy League lock on the court. I have to confess my first impression of Kagan is a lot like my first impression of many Organization Kids. She seems to be smart, impressive and honest — and in her willingness to suppress so much of her mind for the sake of her career, kind of disturbing.