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Mike Littwin

"The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles."

Littwin: Why Obama’s SCOTUS nominee threatens the GOP

Littwin: Why Obama’s SCOTUS nominee threatens the GOP

You can make the argument that by nominating an oldish, moderate, well-respected judge to the Supreme Court that Barack Obama has outsmarted the Republicans, making those opposing him in the Senate look small, petty and ungenerous for refusing to consider or, in most cases, even talk to nominee Merrick Garland.

But that’s not the argument I’d make.

I’d say the Republicans outsmarted themselves. I’d say that by inventing the monster that is Donald Trump — they first spent years branding Obama as the radical “other” (I’m talking to you, Mike Coffman) and then gasped in horror when voters took seriously the one presidential candidate to run with the concept — they practically invited Obama to make this move.

Yes, Obama was smart enough to figure it out. But how hard was it? It’s not like picking a winning NCAA bracket.

He nominates a moderate and dares Republicans to bet that Trump loses the nomination or, if Trump wins, that he would somehow then beat Hillary Clinton, and that if he did beat her, he could be trusted to nominate someone other than either his bankruptcy or divorce lawyer.

We know what happens if Clinton wins — she nominates a 40-something liberal who spends 40 years on the court doing her best Ruth Bader Ginsburg imitation while Clinton spends the next eight years whispering that she might nominate Obama next. 

And what about Trump?

There are many scenarios, one more hilarious than the next until you actually remember what the stakes are. One, from Nate Silver, is that Trump runs to the bipartisan middle in order to attract those Reagan-style Democrats who have remained Democrats and, if successful, he gets his first shot to show off his Trumpian deal-making skills with his Supreme Court pick. I can see it now, the winner’s name alongside Trump’s in neon, with the runner-up guaranteed a lifetime supply of Trump steaks.

There is another, more likely scenario: That Clinton runs against Trump on the basis of whether you’d trust this pick (or any number of other critical tasks) to someone who predicts riots if he gets robbed of the nomination, to someone who would refuse immigrants on the basis of their religion, to someone who wants to reverse the libel laws so he can go all Alien and Sedition Acts on unfriendly reporters, to someone who has said (and later unsaid) he would order soldiers to employ torture, to someone who would target suspected terrorists’ children, to someone who promises to pay the legal fees for anyone who “knocks the crap” out of a protester, to someone who, well, the list is endless.

And there’s this scenario: At some point, if Trump is the nominee, Republicans will be forced to decide whether to support him. Michael Gerson has a great line in his Washington Post column saying that for Republicans who accommodate Trump, “it is not just a choice; it is a verdict.” So, let’s consider those Republicans who, like Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, say they won’t vote for Trump. How do they then make the argument that they are turning down the best offer they’re likely to see from a Democratic president with the hope that the man they rejected would do better?

You can see the quandary Republicans face. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who came up with the idea that they wouldn’t even allow a hearing for any Obama nominee, is sticking to his determination that we should “let the people decide,” as if they hadn’t already decided when they elected Obama twice. At this point, the polls show that a healthy majority think Obama’s pick should get a hearing. And maybe more problematic for Republicans, I could swear that Obama’s approval rating numbers are growing with each Trumpian primary victory.

As Cato Institute’s Trevor Burrus wrote in Time, the problem with letting the people decide is that “if there’s one thing we’ve learned this election year, it’s that the ‘people’ are terrifying.”

The conventional wisdom held that Obama, seeing that he had no chance to get his nominee through the Senate, would go with someone to please the base, playing to the women’s vote, or the Latino vote or the black vote or the Bernie vote. But, of course, that would have meant nominating someone to go to battle without a viable exit strategy, and who would take on that job?

But Garland has a chance. He has the resume. He has a list of Republicans, starting with Orrin Hatch, who have praised him. He has a few liberal groups who have expressed their disappointment with him. He has people calling him a moderate who have no idea what kind of Supreme Court justice he’d actually be, although some on the right are already calling him a gun grabber. But mostly what Garland has going for him is the prospect of Republicans nominating Trump in July and the fear of a Trump disaster come November.

The closer Trump comes to the nomination, the more pressure there will be for McConnell to cave. Some conservatives are already advising that the Senate go through with the hearings for Garland and then wait until after the election to decide whether to take the vote. That won’t happen, of course. It’s too weird, even by 2016 standards. After all, you don’t win an election by announcing you’re hedging your bets. Unless, of course, you come to believe it’s the only shot you’ve got.       

Photo credit: Robbie Wroblewski, Creative Commons, Flickr

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About the Author

Mike Littwin

He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
mlittwin@coloradoindependent.com | Twitter @mike_littwin

6 Comments

  1. Robert on said:

    Cory Gardner had better get off his ass and do his job…I don’t care what party he is beholdin’ to…He OWES the State of Colorado, and the United States of America his JOB and has sworn an Oath…We really need to keep his feet to the fire on this one…I hope Mike Bennett is paying attention…

  2. Gabriel King on said:

    So Merrick and Obama are “moderate” HUH ?

    #1 Funding ISIS while pretending to fight them…

    #2 Support infanticide (Murdering children AFTER they are born)…

    #3 Support radical homosexual fascism

    #4 Support violent anti-white anti-Police “Only Black Lives Matter” brown shirts + rhetoric

    #5 Support Islamic invasion of the west (Treason Article III, Section III) on welfare stolen from the tax payers without their consent.

    #6 Have labeled Christians, Libertarians, and anyone “right of center” as “Domestic terrorists” in official statements and white papers.

    YEP, SOUNDS REAL “MODERATE” TO ME ! Trump will continue to be popular with the common people because he is the only one standing up to tyranny, lies, and disgrace of both political party’s which have destroyed our once good nation.

    And congratulations to Hillary for her recent endorsement by the Klan in California. Should feel right at home since the Democrat Party created the KKK and Jim Crow Laws.

  3. Gabriel King on said:

    “Moderate Merrick” also wants to help Obama destroy what remains of the Bill of Rights. Except for a “twisted” version of the 1st Amendment….

    Which means radical Leftists have the “right” to invade other people’s political rally’s and disrupt them to the point of cancellation…. violating the right to peaceably assemble and speak of the opposing party….. inciting violence and riots.

    Just more proof of the “tolerance” of the Left.

  4. Don B Lopez on said:

    “In short, what experts think matters far less than how (pundits) think, or their cognitive style. At one extreme, hedgehogs seek certainty and closure, dismiss information that undercuts their preconceptions and embrace evidence that reinforces them, in what is called “belief defense and bolstering.”“ – Sharon Begley Newsweek

    Just last month Mr. “Hedgehog” Littwin was hyperventilating about Senator McConnell’s decision to delay hearings on Supreme Court nominees until after this year’s general election.

    “In other words, the Republicans are prepared to emasculate the court for the next, say, 15 months or so — with all those expected 5-4 decisions turning into 4-4 ties, meaning nothing actually gets done —  so Obama can’t pick a third justice.

    This is, let’s say, untenable. It’s also a likely Republican disaster.”

    What Mr. Littwin failed to mention was according to Mediaite.com in July, 2007 Senator Schumer endorsed a McConnell-style “pre-emptive attack” against President Bush’s Supreme Court nominees.

    “We should not confirm any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court except in extraordinary circumstances,” Schumer said. “They must prove by actions not words that they are in the mainstream rather than we have to prove that they are not.”

    If Senator McConnell’s plan was “untenable” because it would “emasculate the court for the next, say, 15 months or so” how would Mr. Littwin describe a plan that would have emasculated the court for far longer?

    We’ll never know since Mr. Littwin chose to ignore completely Senator Schumer’s remark which for Mr. Littwin is standard operating procedure.

    Well, the hedgehog is at it again!

    Mr. Littwin now suggests: “You can make the argument that by nominating an oldish, moderate, well-respected judge to the Supreme Court that Barack Obama has outsmarted the Republicans, making those opposing him in the Senate look small, petty and ungenerous for refusing to consider or, in most cases, even talk to nominee Merrick Garland.”

    Here are other facts Mr. Littwin fails—yet again–to mention: This from Debra Saunders:

    “You’d never guess Obama not only voted against Chief Justice John Roberts but also supported a filibuster — that is, he opposed an up-or-down vote — to thwart the confirmation of Samuel Alito in 2005. Hillary Clinton also opposed Roberts and supported an Alito filibuster. Both Roberts and Alito won confirmation with Democratic support — which tells you they were qualified but not immune to the sort of partisan opposition that Obama now finds distasteful.

    On the other side of the aisle, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the floor to promise he’d oppose an election-year confirmation in deference to the “Biden rule.” (In 1992, then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joe Biden said he would oppose an election-year GOP nominee.)”

    Ms. Saunders adds, “The New York Times places Garland to the left of all living justices, save Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, and also reports that a Garland confirmation “could tip the ideological balance to create the most liberal Supreme Court in 50 years.”

    This is the same judge Mr. Littwin describes as “moderate”.

    But here’s the funniest part of Mr. Littwin’s column: “There is another, more likely scenario: That Clinton runs against Trump on the basis of whether you’d trust (a Supreme Court nomination)…” to Mr. Trump.

    Really, Mrs. Clinton running against Mr. Trump on the basis of trust?

    Seriously?

    This from a Huffington Post editorial:

    “Also, it used to be important not have an ongoing FBI investigation linked to emails, but any controversy related to the former Secretary of State is viewed as a badge of honor to certain voters. Nonetheless, electability is always tied to winning battleground states, and Hillary Clinton faces an uphill battle pertaining to electoral votes in these regions.

    Regarding swing states in 2016, Quinnipiac University’s July and August Swing State Polls highlight that voters in Colorado, Iowa, Virginia, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania don’t find Hillary Clinton to be trustworthy”

    And from the same Huffington Post editorial: “Colorado voters say 62 – 34 percent that Hillary Clinton is not honest and trustworthy…”

    I doubt the word “trust” will be used much by Mrs. Clinton.

    But Mr. Littwin does prove once again that it’s easy to have a narrative when you ignore contradictory facts.

    Let’s face it, George Will he ain’t.

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    For a year now, Hillary Clinton’s misuse of email during her tenure as Secretary of State has hung like a dark cloud over her presidential campaign. As I told you months ago, EmailGate isn’t going away, despite the best efforts of Team Clinton to make it disappear. Instead, the scandal has gotten worse, with never-ending revelations of apparent misconduct by Ms. Clinton and her staff. At this point, EmailGate may be the only thing standing between Hillary and the White House this November.

    Specifically, the Federal Bureau of Investigation examination of EmailGate, pursuant to provisions of the Espionage Act, poses a major threat to Ms. Clinton’s presidential aspirations. However, even if the FBI recommends prosecution of her or members of her inner circle for mishandling of classified information—which is something the politically unconnected routinely do face prosecution for—it’s by no means certain that the Department of Justice will follow the FBI’s lead. – Observer.com

    Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has to worry about a steep drop-off of the black vote that could imperil her chances of winning the White House in November, an analysis has found.

    The number of African-Americans who voted in Tuesday’s primaries plummeted by an estimated 40 percent in Ohio, 38 percent in Florida and 34 percent in North Carolina compared with the 2008 Democratic primary when Barack Obama was on the ballot, reported the advocacy group Black Votes Matter. – New York Post

    “White men narrowly backed Hillary Clinton in her 2008 race for president, but they are resisting her candidacy this time around in major battleground states, rattling some Democrats about her general-election strategy.

    While Mrs. Clinton swept the five major primaries on Tuesday, she lost white men in all of them, and by double-digit margins in Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio, exit polls showed — a sharp turnabout from 2008, when she won double-digit victories among white male voters in all three states.

    She also performed poorly on Tuesday with independents, who have never been among her core supporters. But white men were, at least when Mrs. Clinton was running against a black opponent: She explicitly appealed to them in 2008, extolling the Second Amendment, mocking Barack Obama’s comment that working-class voters “cling to guns or religion” and even needling him at one point over his difficulties with “working, hard-working Americans, white Americans.” – New York Times

    “Call it “democratic socialism” to make yourself feel better, but what we have is an old hippie regurgitating cut-rate Lenin. And it’s obvious — especially when contrasted with the Democrat alternative — this kind of radical idealism is what really propels the Democratic Party.

    “Our job is not to divide. Our job is to bring people together!” Sanders roars in the ad. All genders, ethnicities, races, ages, and sexualities will meld into one and force government to “work” for everyone. The thing is, if we weren’t divide by our gender, race, class, and sexual orientation, Democrats wouldn’t win any elections.” – thefederalist.com

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Greenlight a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Memorial Day – May 30, 2016

  5. Will Morrison on said:

    I would suggest that Mr King stop watching Fox News. It’s making him seem less than stable. it’s important to know who it is that’s giving you your news and what their motives for telling you things are. And when every poll taken says that Fox watchers are not only less informed than other people, but are actually MISinformed, that should tell you what you need to know.

    Oh, and the reason Trump is doing so well is because for the last 40 years, the republicans have been bad mouthing everyone in government, and now they wonder why an outsider gets their votes. The republican establishment is a pack of fools who made this situation for themselves. Trump is no hero, he’s the one who spouts the most hateful crap out there, the most unAmerican, the least positive statements possible. And that’s what the right has been about for decades, now, tearing down everything that has been built before. It shouldn’t really surprise them that it’s reached their own offices.

    Oh, and “radical leftists”? Please! You wouldn’t know a radical leftist if one came up and introduced himself. There are no radical leftists in this country. They all turned into Reagan democrats long ago. Your squeals of unfair tactics fall on extremely deaf ears, made so by the abuses of the right wing on this country for the last 4 decades. Something else the right brought on themselves.

    Sorry, but there’s not a whole lot of sympathy for those who don’t show anyone else any tolerance for others and actively work to make their lives worse instead of the country better for everyone. Asking someone so SHARE is NOT fascism. Buy a dictionary.

  6. Don B Lopez on said:

    Mr. King: Enjoyed your comment and hope you’ll continue to contribute.

    “In short, what experts think matters far less than how (pundits) think, or their cognitive style. At one extreme, hedgehogs seek certainty and closure, dismiss information that undercuts their preconceptions and embrace evidence that reinforces them, in what is called “belief defense and bolstering.”“ – Sharon Begley Newsweek

    Just last month Mr. “Hedgehog” Littwin was hyperventilating about Senator McConnell’s decision to delay hearings on Supreme Court nominees until after this year’s general election.

    “In other words, the Republicans are prepared to emasculate the court for the next, say, 15 months or so — with all those expected 5-4 decisions turning into 4-4 ties, meaning nothing actually gets done —  so Obama can’t pick a third justice.

    This is, let’s say, untenable. It’s also a likely Republican disaster.”

    What Mr. Littwin failed to mention was according to Mediaite.com in July, 2007 Senator Schumer endorsed a McConnell-style “pre-emptive attack” against President Bush’s Supreme Court nominees.

    “We should not confirm any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court except in extraordinary circumstances,” Schumer said. “They must prove by actions not words that they are in the mainstream rather than we have to prove that they are not.”

    If Senator McConnell’s plan was “untenable” because it would “emasculate the court for the next, say, 15 months or so” how would Mr. Littwin describe a plan that would have emasculated the court for far longer?

    We’ll never know since Mr. Littwin chose to ignore completely Senator Schumer’s remark which for Mr. Littwin is standard operating procedure.

    Well, the hedgehog is at it again!

    Mr. Littwin now suggests: “You can make the argument that by nominating an oldish, moderate, well-respected judge to the Supreme Court that Barack Obama has outsmarted the Republicans, making those opposing him in the Senate look small, petty and ungenerous for refusing to consider or, in most cases, even talk to nominee Merrick Garland.”

    Here are other facts Mr. Littwin fails—yet again–to mention: This from Debra Saunders:

    “You’d never guess Obama not only voted against Chief Justice John Roberts but also supported a filibuster — that is, he opposed an up-or-down vote — to thwart the confirmation of Samuel Alito in 2005. Hillary Clinton also opposed Roberts and supported an Alito filibuster. Both Roberts and Alito won confirmation with Democratic support — which tells you they were qualified but not immune to the sort of partisan opposition that Obama now finds distasteful.

    On the other side of the aisle, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the floor to promise he’d oppose an election-year confirmation in deference to the “Biden rule.” (In 1992, then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joe Biden said he would oppose an election-year GOP nominee.)”

    Ms. Saunders adds, “The New York Times places Garland to the left of all living justices, save Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, and also reports that a Garland confirmation “could tip the ideological balance to create the most liberal Supreme Court in 50 years.”

    This is the same judge Mr. Littwin describes as “moderate”.

    But here’s the funniest part of Mr. Littwin’s column: “There is another, more likely scenario: That Clinton runs against Trump on the basis of whether you’d trust (a Supreme Court nomination)…” to Mr. Trump.

    Really, Mrs. Clinton running against Mr. Trump on the basis of trust?

    Seriously?

    This from a Huffington Post editorial:

    “Also, it used to be important not have an ongoing FBI investigation linked to emails, but any controversy related to the former Secretary of State is viewed as a badge of honor to certain voters. Nonetheless, electability is always tied to winning battleground states, and Hillary Clinton faces an uphill battle pertaining to electoral votes in these regions.

    Regarding swing states in 2016, Quinnipiac University’s July and August Swing State Polls highlight that voters in Colorado, Iowa, Virginia, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania don’t find Hillary Clinton to be trustworthy”

    And from the same Huffington Post editorial: “Colorado voters say 62 – 34 percent that Hillary Clinton is not honest and trustworthy…”

    I doubt the word “trust” will be used much by Mrs. Clinton.

    But Mr. Littwin does prove once again that it’s easy to have a narrative when you ignore contradictory facts.

    Let’s face it, George Will he ain’t.

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    For a year now, Hillary Clinton’s misuse of email during her tenure as Secretary of State has hung like a dark cloud over her presidential campaign. As I told you months ago, EmailGate isn’t going away, despite the best efforts of Team Clinton to make it disappear. Instead, the scandal has gotten worse, with never-ending revelations of apparent misconduct by Ms. Clinton and her staff. At this point, EmailGate may be the only thing standing between Hillary and the White House this November.

    Specifically, the Federal Bureau of Investigation examination of EmailGate, pursuant to provisions of the Espionage Act, poses a major threat to Ms. Clinton’s presidential aspirations. However, even if the FBI recommends prosecution of her or members of her inner circle for mishandling of classified information—which is something the politically unconnected routinely do face prosecution for—it’s by no means certain that the Department of Justice will follow the FBI’s lead. – Observer.com

    Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has to worry about a steep drop-off of the black vote that could imperil her chances of winning the White House in November, an analysis has found.

    The number of African-Americans who voted in Tuesday’s primaries plummeted by an estimated 40 percent in Ohio, 38 percent in Florida and 34 percent in North Carolina compared with the 2008 Democratic primary when Barack Obama was on the ballot, reported the advocacy group Black Votes Matter. – New York Post

    “White men narrowly backed Hillary Clinton in her 2008 race for president, but they are resisting her candidacy this time around in major battleground states, rattling some Democrats about her general-election strategy.

    While Mrs. Clinton swept the five major primaries on Tuesday, she lost white men in all of them, and by double-digit margins in Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio, exit polls showed — a sharp turnabout from 2008, when she won double-digit victories among white male voters in all three states.

    She also performed poorly on Tuesday with independents, who have never been among her core supporters. But white men were, at least when Mrs. Clinton was running against a black opponent: She explicitly appealed to them in 2008, extolling the Second Amendment, mocking Barack Obama’s comment that working-class voters “cling to guns or religion” and even needling him at one point over his difficulties with “working, hard-working Americans, white Americans.” – New York Times

    “Call it “democratic socialism” to make yourself feel better, but what we have is an old hippie regurgitating cut-rate Lenin. And it’s obvious — especially when contrasted with the Democrat alternative — this kind of radical idealism is what really propels the Democratic Party.

    “Our job is not to divide. Our job is to bring people together!” Sanders roars in the ad. All genders, ethnicities, races, ages, and sexualities will meld into one and force government to “work” for everyone. The thing is, if we weren’t divide by our gender, race, class, and sexual orientation, Democrats wouldn’t win any elections.” – thefederalist.com

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Greenlight a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Memorial Day – May 30, 2016

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