The Supremes – Same Song Different Verse

The Washington Examiner published an article this morning that ostensibly discusses the political dilemma facing the Senate Democrats regarding the looming Supreme Court nomination. The article furthers the latest version of Democratic talking points concerning the Judge Neil Gorsuch confirmation process.

At latest count, this is verse Three. Verse One was the old chestnut: “He is out of the mainstream, and is an extremist..” When this didn’t play in Peoria, sure as God made little green apples, out came Verse Two, which was multi-purpose: “This is a stolen seat, and belongs only to a true moderate that both sides can agree on.” Multi-purpose because it served as red meat to the base, and as a fundraising tool. As it turns out, flyover country wasn’t interested in relitigating a perceived slight to the former president.

I suppose Verse Three was inevitable. Verses One and Two were opinion based. Three is about the nomination process itself, and is quite misleading. The Examiner sets the stage:

“At the same moment, thousands of protesters swarmed Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s, D-N.Y., Brooklyn apartment, some of them waiving plastic spines, demanding that Schumer and the Democrats hold firm and block Gorsuch from the high court.

Schumer, who is in his first term as Senate Democratic leader, is in a difficult political position as the Senate considers the nomination of Gorsuch, a highly respected jurist currently serving on the bench of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

With five vulnerable Democrats and eight more seats on the verge of being competitive in 2018, Schumer must find a way to satisfy the Democratic base by fighting the nomination without jeopardizing the re-election prospects of a big portion of his caucus who have to run for re-election in states that Trump won.”  (bold mine)

This is really the heart of the issue. In less than two years, somewhere between eight and twelve Democrat Senators will face uphill reelection battles, and some might find themselves in in a tough primary as well. What these Democrats know for a certainty is their constituents do not want to hear about process obstruction, and that conservative PACs have budgeted over $10 million in advertising just to highlight their obstruction. Verse Three is their attempt to walk that fine line of appeasing the furious intractable left fringe and also attempting to not anger the rural blue collar vote that abandoned Ms. Clinton and were instrumental in electing President Trump.

The Examiner trots out Verse Three in fine style:

“Some red-state Democrats issued carefully worded reactions to the Gorsuch announcement, calling for at least a hearing and vote within the Judiciary Committee.

“We should have a full confirmation hearing process and a vote on ANY nominee for the Supreme Court,” tweeted Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who is among the more vulnerable 2018 Democrats.”

This latest talking point essentially boils down to an attempt to remove the stigma of voting to uphold the filibuster by normalizing it as the first part of a two-part Supreme Court nominee confirmation vote. By attempting to achieve this governance transformation, The Examiner puts forth a complete erroneous fact, so as to provide cover for Senators such as Sen. McCaskill.

“Schumer has also said he would invoke a requirement that the nominee will need 60 votes, a move that will make it much harder for him to win approval since the GOP controls only 52 votes.” (bold mine)

This seems deliberately misleading. But it does allow the good Senator ample room for doublespeak:

“When some misinterpreted the tweet and reported McCaskill would not filibuster Gorsuch, she tweeted again: “Why would anyone think that because I support confirmation hearing & 60 vote threshold for SupCt nominee that means I’m folding to Trump?”

As much as the liberals would like to conflate a vote to end filibuster with the actual confirmation vote, this is simply not the case. A vote to end filibuster is not in any way shape or form a vote to confirm the nominee. Which is why we are now hearing about the “60 vote threshold”, as if that’s a real thing. A  Supreme Court confirmation vote requires a simple majority for success. Thats 51 votes not 60. 51 votes is the threshold, and always has been. And the Examiner knows that.

What Senators like Sen. McCaskill are trying to achieve is two-fold: The first objective is to fool rural voters into thinking she is all for the nomination moving out of committee and enabling a full Senate up or down confirmation vote. The second objective is to tell the actual truth to her liberal base in code and doublespeak. What they hear is the nominee will not be approved without 60 Senators voting to end filibuster.

Verse Three will probably have some staying power. It has the Clintonian attribute of being a simple statement while remaining confusingly obtuse.


About the author

Wm. P. Fitzhenry

5th generation Texan, 2nd generation reformed Presbyterian, a twin and a serial entrepreneur.

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