The Chronicles of a Presidency

It is unlike the question “Where were you on 9/11/2001?” to remember where you were on the day the latest P45 shocker was issued. In the past 1,300+ days since his inauguration, this President, according to The Washington Post, has uttered 20,000 lies and/or falsehoods–about 15 per day, on average. George Washington’s apocryphal tale about his culpability for a downed cherry tree occurred prior to his inauguration when he was a youth.

More insidious, perhaps, are 45’s political deceits and gambits to advance his candidacy or smear opponents. Thus, one of the most recent dates – September 9, 2020 – may not be recalled by chroniclers of this presidency. It was a Wednesday and P45 announced at the White House a list of 20 new names to add to his previous list of 25 as candidates to the Supreme Court in the event of a vacancy during his tenure.

Naming a bench of SCOTUS candidates prior to a vacancy was first initiated by this President during the 2016 campaign to attract conservative, especially evangelical, voters. When questioned, most previous presidents might merely describe judicial or personal characteristics of potential candidates. A list with names is a new tactic, politicizing even further the nomination procedure. During this year’s Democratic primary contest, Joe Biden adhered to previous protocol and offered no names of candidates.

Into the reserved silence of the Democratic presidential nominee, P45 railed to his base, as reported by NPR:

The “radical justices” appointed by a hypothetical Biden administration would “erase the Second Amendment, silence political speech and require taxpayers to fund extreme late-term abortion.” They would also “give unelected bureaucrats the power to destroy millions of jobs” and “remove the words ‘under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance” — despite Biden’s never having proposed any of those things.

Ever since President Dwight Eisenhower signaled that his appointment of Earl Warren was a “mistake,’ Republicans have salivated at the opportunity to send ideologically safe jurists to SCOTUS, succeeding in the past with Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. For decades since Warren, the GOP has cultivated a pipeline of nominations to ensure conservative jurists survive the often wrenching process of advice and consent in the Senate. Among notable failures were Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, Harriet Miers, and Robert Bork.

Ever since President Dwight Eisenhower signaled that his appointment of Earl Warren was a “mistake,’ Republicans have salivated at the opportunity to send ideologically safe jurists to SCOTUS, succeeding in the past with Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. For decades since Warren, the GOP has cultivated a pipeline of nominations to ensure conservative jurists survive the often wrenching process of advice and consent in the Senate. Among notable failures were Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, Harriet Miers, and Robert Bork.

In the past few years, however, a GOP hegemony, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and propelled by organizations such as the Federalist Society, Judicial Crisis Network, and the Heritage Foundation, successfully slotted two SCOTUS justices (Gorsuch and Kavanaugh) and some 200 federal bench candidates for lifetime tenure. Democrats have largely been relegated to rear guard tactics in opposing GOP-cultivated and -polished nominees.

But in a recent decision, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch attracted the ire of conservatives for breaking ideological ranks. Almost immediately, P45 declared he would be issuing a list, culminating on September 9, 2020. The newly revised list of 45 (symbolic?), only 55 days prior to Election Day, make no mention of any effect of the McConnell Rule, which the GOP created to torpedo Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland.

Among the 20 newly named candidates are four sitting GOP senators: Tom Cotton (AR), Ted Cruz (TX), Josh Hawley (MO), and Mike Lee (UT). Following Gorsuch’s alleged meander from the conservative fold, Hawley declared that any candidate for the federal bench to come before him for questioning must clearly oppose Roe v. Wade. After his name surfaced, Hawley made it clear he was not interested in an appointment, advised 45 of that fact, but found his name on the list in any event.

Lee has remained silent. Handicappers favor Cruz to accept a nomination. The 16 remaining of the 20 additions reflect a wide geographic distribution from across the nation.  Cotton had begun sensing smoke signals about his interest in a presidential nomination.  Not to be outdone by his colleague Sen. Hawley, Cotton in an interview on Fox News praised his own nomination by criticizing Joe Biden:

Whereas Joe Biden is continuing to hide his unpopular agenda from the American people. We still don’t have such a list from Joe Biden because that would be filled with a bunch of far-left radicals and hurt him in this election.

Thus, in the logic of the novel 1984, Cotton bemoans a list that does not exist for a political practice never used until P45 did so. One might only wonder if Biden produced such a list and it contained a conservative what Cotton’s reaction would be.

Almost 20 years to the day since September 11, 2001, 9/09/2020 will not live in infamy and likely may only appear alongside reruns of The Apprentice as historically significant. Repropagating the nation’s civic and political culture and dialogue to establish a common platform of appreciating the responsibilities and qualities of elected leadership is a task for every citizen. For certain, our civic and political senses have been dulled by the rhetoric since 2016. The first sign of recovery approaches on November 3, 2020.

 

 

 



Categories: elections, Issues, Local, National, politics

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