Sen. Reid’s faux hyperventilation over the Republican Senate majority indicating that they will not move President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death is in the category of noise for the sake of noise. It will have no effect. There’s not one Republican presidential candidate, one Republican elected official or any Republican of stature I can think of who believes it would be anything other than a giant mistake to proceed with confirming an Obama Supreme Court nominee this close to the 2016 election. It’s not going to happen. Sen. Reid should do what he has to do, but he should not strain his vocal chords. In an op-ed in today’s Washington Post, Sen. Reid writes, “If Republicans proceed, they will ensure that this Republican majority is remembered as the most nakedly partisan, obstructionist and irresponsible majority in history.” He also threatened that if Republicans don’t allow President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination to receive a hearing and floor vote, “the consequences will reverberate for decades.” Well, I think most Republicans would see it another way — that if President Obama is allowed to appoint someone to the Supreme Court, the consequences will reverberate for decades.
Sen. Reid’s outrage is pointless, but as minority leader, he’s obligated to try to make some lemonade out of the lemons the Democrats are left holding. At least this way he can try to stir up anger against Republicans, use some of their words against them and maybe even get some solid fundraising out of it. The chances are close to zero that an Obama nominee will get a vote, but Sen. Reid has to at least put up the appearance of waging the good fight. What will be interesting to see is who it is the Democrats will recruit to play the aggrieved, would-be Supreme Court nominee. Obviously, the nominee would have to be willing to be part of the charade, something most serious legal scholars wouldn’t readily embrace. Anyway, it will be interesting to watch.
In the meantime, the noise coming from the Trump campaign might be effective. Trump’s campaign tactics involve screaming at a fever pitch and intimidating others into not objecting to what he says. The media often takes his words at face value, and as we saw at the beginning of the campaign, even the other candidates didn’t really challenge him.
But now some of the candidates, specifically Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, have started to push back against Trump, and we seem to be stuck in a cycle where Trump screams some absurdities and acts churlish, he is called out and then he screams even louder. It’s all very fatiguing. But I guess that’s the point.
The Post’s Philip Rucker points out that Trump “unloaded” on Cruz in South Carolina, “labeling the Texas senator ‘a liar’ and ‘the most dishonest’ person in politics.” In this case, Cruz isn’t a liar, he’s simply supplying useful information by pointing out the inconsistencies in Trump’s record. Trump is counting on his threats to the other candidates and on commentators being worn out by the deluge of Trump noise to allow his nonsense to continue carrying the day. I hope Cruz and others are not intimidated or just worn out by Trump and won’t allow themselves to be shouted down. The very idea that everyone should take what Trump says at face value is crazy. The very idea that he is somehow immune to political expediency and hasn’t tailored his positions to meet today’s politics is just funny. And let’s face it, Trump hasn’t just evolved on some of the issues, he’s done some outright 180s. For other campaigns to not question his sincerity and highlight his obvious pandering is a disservice to the voting public.
Politics is full of noise, which is almost always a turn-off. But it’s something we all have to endure, and we shouldn’t let the noise obscure what’s really important.