Ed Whelan smears New Yorkers in attack on Kagan

In the latest evidence that National Review Online's Ed Whelan is just throwing everything he can at the wall and hoping something sticks to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, Whelan is now attacking her for... not learning to drive until her late 20s. According to Whelan, this “nicely captures Elena Kagan's remoteness from the lives of most Americans.”


Putting aside for a second the deeply bizarre idea that one's ability to drive should be a qualification or disqualification for high office, as the article Whelan quotes from points out, Kagan grew up in New York City, which is one of the most walkable cities in the country and has one of the best public transportation systems nationwide. You don't need a license if you live in NYC, and in fact a large percentage of New Yorkers don't have one: New York City has 5.6 million residents over age 25, but only 3.3 million residents have drivers' licenses.

My 90-year old grandmother is one of those New Yorkers without a license; in fact, all four of my grandparents lived in the city either from birth or since immigrating to the U.S., and none of them ever learned to drive. My parents grew up in New York City, and also did not learn to drive until their late 20s.

Whelan, though, wants his readers to think this makes Kagan deeply weird, and somehow unsuitable to be a Supreme Court justice. And the only way that works is if he tars a large percentage of New Yorkers as being different from “real Americans.”