Saturday, September 26, 2020

Race for the White House # 91

38 Days Until Election Day

Firstly, this is one of the oddest sports days ever. We have potentially a Stanley Cup to be awarded as well as an NBA Conference Championship. This is occurring as divisions are clinched in Major League Baseball and a whole lot of College Football action as well. 

For a lot of people, all this sports on television may be a good thing for Americans who are disillusioned with our politics. I would be one of them. I also recognize that the Americans who are voting seem to be fine with picking one of the major party candidates, even if it is solely to oppose the other. I am not one of them and have really nothing to vote for this year. For the first time I ever, I have been considering just not voting. When all is said and done, I am pretty sure I will still vote and at the Presidential level write in a name, but it has been a disillusioning week. What will we be talking about next weekend, after the first Presidential debate is held on Tuesday evening? If it occurs (and Trump fans seem to think Biden will fail to show), it is likely to be a complete circus.

Supreme Court politics dominated the week. I wrote a whole lot about it last Saturday and stand by every word of what I wrote at the time. However. the for now Senate Majority Republicans seem intent on having a vote on Amy Coney Barrett's nomination occur right before Election Day. If nothing changes, she will be on the Court for life. My feelings on all of this are quite mixed, but I cannot get past the pure, unadulterated hypocrisy shown by Republicans on this matter. For years, I was a proud Republican, knowing that not everyone in my party was perfect, but at the end of the day, we were the "good guys." Even looking past Trump personally, I do not think I can say that now. Nonetheless, I am not someone who is going to call the Democrats the "good guys" either. They have helped bring us to this point and while I am still willing to have been "fair" to them on this matter, after what happened in 2016, it is very hard to feel sorry for them.
I do not think it can be underestimated how the efforts to attack Brett Kavanaugh and call him a rapist, when people calling him that deep down had major doubts on that sort of bold accusation, poisoned this process. Conservatives who might have wanted "fairness" in the past now think that such a noble concept is a waste of time and that if a battle can be won, it should be, period. 

This week, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the first woman and first Jew to lay in State in the U.S. Capitol. Whatever one's political persuasion, one should not fail to admire her personally. I have also thought this week of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whom was the first female to sit on the Supreme Court. She has been silenced by Ahlzheimer's and is retired from public life, but when she passes away one day, I hope her role in history is equally remembered, as well as the fact that it was President Ronald Reagan who nominated her.

Today, Judge Amy Coney Barrett and her family arrived at the White House for an announcement ceremony in the Rose Garden. I was very impressed by her and there is no doubt that I would want someone like her on the Supreme Court. I just cannot get past the unfairness of the process. I believe what I believed four years ago, that the American people should have a voice in the process this late in the game. How far will we push this? If a Justice dies 24 hours before a Presidential election, will they somehow be put through as well? In theory, a Republican President should be able to use this nomination as a talking point in a campaign, but it seems like people actually expect Trump to lose, despite what they say publicly, and know this is the only chance to alter history on the judicial level. I feel very bad, after all this time, that the Republican Party is married to a leader who likely cannot win, and even if he could, does not deserve to win.

There is an angle to all this that did not occur to me last week. While I think the concept of a "recess appointment" to the Court is generally a bad one, a circumstance like this might have allowed it to be a great compromise. There is precedent too. In 1956, as President Dwight Eisenhower was seeking reelection, a Justice retired (which is different of course from dying) and Ike made a recess appointment of a Catholic Democrat, with thoughts of this pick helping him in the election. Eisenhower won in a landslide, and in January, the Senate moved quickly to confirm the pick permanently. This Justice did not exactly vote on the bench the way Eisenhower would have wanted, but that is besides the point.

I do not think we need nine Justices on the Court right away and I fear for the concept of the Presidential election literally being decided in the Supreme Court. However, if that is an urgent matter, a recess appointment would allayed those fears... and I cannot imagine that any such outrageous attempt by any candidate to sway the election would be decided in a near unanimous way by the Court.

Both Presidential candidates and all sorts of Senate candidates as well could talk about this nomination before the voters, who of course have already begun voting, and if Trump were to come from behind and win, then clearly this nomination of Judge Barrett was the major reason why and confirming her permanently should be an easy call. If he loses, then the people have spoken, a Democrat would have won, and would deserve to have a liberal replace a liberal. Conservatives like me would have to pray that all the GOP nominated Justices stay in place until there is one day (hopefully) a Republican President again.

This concept of "fairness" has now all been thrown out the window though. For now on, it will take a President and a Senate majority of the same party to confirm a Justice. Otherwise, we are going to see very long vacancies. Generally speaking, this reflects badly on non-divided government. Checks and balances are needed now more than ever. Why has no Democrat even suggested the recess appointment compromise? The party seems to almost be too willing to say, "well, the Republicans hold the cards and there is nothing we can really do." Not immediately, but as mentioned, they could one day retaliate in disproportionate fashion by "packing the court." It is a mistake for conservatives to just dismiss this, even as Democrats downplay that it might ever happen. At the least, they should be using this very bad idea of court packing as a threat. They are not though. They seem willing to lose this battle with a wink and a nod... for now.

Moving on to the confirmation process itself, ACB is likely to face challenges and pressures that were unheard of when RBG was nominated. We already know that the left plays very dirty when it comes to trying to stop a Supreme Court nominee and they run the risk of turning off swing voters during election season if they go too far attacking Barrett personally or for her personal Catholic faith. It is worth nothing that Trump maybe picked Barrett precisely because of this chance. Others in the party seem to think he should have been more political by picking the Latina judge from Florida. Some will say this means that Trump and his people think Florida is already wrapped up. I think more likely that Mitch McConnell and others responsible for this process in the Senate have concluded that Trump has likely already lost the Presidency. Some are saying off the record that a 6-3 conservative court majority is worth the White House and Congress. I do not. For one thing, just how long will it stay 6-3?

Judge Barrett is in for some very unfair attacks, even as her nomination was in a sense "unfair" itself. For one thing, she will be attacked in some quarters for having five pregnancies, two adoptions, and presumably no abortions, as the right to "choice" is a sacrament on the left. While few will ever say so publicly, the fact that Barrett had a baby with Downs Syndrome (like Sarah Palin did) and chose not to terminate the pregnancy and instead brought a "retarded" baby into the world is unthinkable. Thank G-d for Judge Barrett and all the other parents who ignored advice and brought babies with Downs Syndrome into the world. We are better because of it. To finalize this section, I believe Amy Coney Barrett would be great on the Supreme Court. Donald Trump should not be the one to put her there though. It is a very conflicting matter. 

Last week, I said that I believed Senator Mitt Romney of Utah would do the right thing and oppose a nomination not made by the winner of the 2020 Presidential election. Apparently though, that is not the case and I have to admit being a bit disappointed. My plan to write him in for the office of President felt a bit less worthy. Still though, I understand the position he is in and his reasoning behind it. I also think that nothing is set in stone. He might still find a way to be some sort of broker on this, although most likely what will happen is that a conservative Senator will vote to confirm a conservative Justice. After all, such a thing is perfectly legal and perfectly Constitutional. Romney already wrote his legacy when he stood on principle and voted to convict Trump of Impeachment charges. This is just a different matter I suppose.

During the whole Merrick Garland saga, Romney was not a Senator nor yet a candidate. I do not even remember if he had something to say on it but if he had been in the Senate at the time, I would not have been surprised if he called for moving forward with the process. After all, it was perfectly legal for Obama to make the nomination and it is perfectly legal for the Senate to reject or not act. Four years later, the bottom line is that what Trump is doing is legal, although "unfair", and Senate Republicans, who have found a new rationale involving having a majority are also acting Constitutionally, although once again unfairly. So, while I am disappointed for political reasons and from a NeverTrump perspective of admitted anger, I cannot claim that Romney's stance of allowing the process to move forward is logically flawed. He is saying the same thing just about all Democrats were saying four years ago. At the same time, it is Lindsey "hold the tapes and use my words against me" Graham who deserves all the ridicule in the world and whatever consequence his state's voters believe he deserves.
These next few weeks will be very conflicting for me in a personal and ideological sense. I just know that Donald Trump deserves to lose and I will appreciate seeing that happen. He continues to make statements indicating he might not accept the results or commit to a peaceful transfer of power. That is all the more reason why he should be put out of the Presidency, by legal Constitutional options, as soon as possible. I wish it could happen today.
Hopefully, I can find the motivation to vote. It is an important function of democracy,  Maybe I will write in Mitt Romney as planned. Maybe I will write in conservative writer David French, who is one of the few people I almost always agree with. Maybe I will write in Jeb Bush, as I will continue to hope to somehow see better options across the board in 2024. For now, maybe sports will be a nice diversion to the ugliness of this campaign, an active pandemic, and the reality of a massively divided country.


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