WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2020
...and another unraveling system: In yesterday morning's Washington Post, Ann Hornaday lowered the boom on the frequent childishness of our failing liberal tribe.
That said, are mainstream journalists far behind? Last night, Senator Barasso appeared on The PBS NewsHour. He was charged with the task of defending the GOP's right to power ahead with a Supreme Court appointment at this particular time and under the circumstances his own party created four years ago.
Given what the GOP did (and said) in 2016, this should have been a hard case to make. But sad! Judy Woodruff's third question to Barasso was uttered exactly as shown:
BARASSO (9/22/20): I think Judge Ginsburg was right when she was asked about this and said, the president is the president from the first day of the term to the last day of the term. She was very clear.
She was also clear on the kind of threats that Chuck Schumer is making now about expanding the size of the Supreme Court from nine to 11 or 13. Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, no, shouldn't do that. Nine is the right number.
And if the Democrats do the things that they're threatening to do, she said that would just politicize the court, and it shouldn't be done.
WOODRUFF: She also said, Senator, that her dying wish was to have this nomination wait until after the president, the next president is elected.
Gack! In fairness to Woodruff, a person might suspect that she was triggered by Barasso's context-free recitation of Ginsburg's past remarks.
That said, surely we all understand that a dying or retiring Justice doesn't get to set the rules for the selection of her successor. And yet, childish references to Justice Ginsburg's "dying wish" have been all over liberal cable this week. Again and again, our floundering, unimpressive though self-impressed team just can't quite seem to grow up.
Meanwhile, even as we play Peter Pan, our various American systems keep breaking down around us:
Coming soon, the Electoral College may select the losing candidate for the third time in six elections. Also, thanks to the growing strangeness of "Senate math," smaller red states (currently) tend to hold sway over larger blue states. The resulting political advantage can be seen in various ways.
(It seemed to us that Kevin Drum was jumping through hoops in this recent post to suggest that this doesn't much matter.)
It's also true that, under current arrangements, Democrats will typically have to win more than 50 percent of the nationwide vote just to break even in the House. For an explanation, click this.
These systems are all creaking, in some cases rather badly. But none of our original systems have come to make less sense than the prevailing Supreme Court system. That's especially true now that the Court is a plainly political branch.
Did a lifetime appointment to the Court ever make sense? If so, it no longer does.
Several Justices have perhaps overstayed Father or Mother Time's welcome in the past several decades. And now that the Court is so plainly political, the lifetime appointment encourages a certain type of president to search for the youngest possible ideologue to nominate for the Court.
Why pick the youngest instead of the best? It extends the number of decades the ideologue will cast predictable partisan votes on the nation's highest court. (George Bush the elder had been urged to "pick young" when he picked Clarence Thomas.)
Now that the Court is a political branch, the lifetime appointment isn't the only problem with its traditional arrangements. Through coincidence of death or retirement, the right to select Justices has becomes a deeply ridiculous game of political chance.
In the current arrangement, an unpopular, disordered one-term president who never actually won an election is going to end up having named a full one-third of the Court. If he finds a way to win while losing once again, he may name several additional Justices.
In the current circumstance, this has happened partly through chance and partly through the GOP's power grab in 2016. But it represents a ridiculous way to apportion a large nation's political power.
Our systems are breaking apart around us, but there's no particular sign we'll ever be able to fix them. One team is geared to power grabs, the other to dying wishes—and to the feel-good fun of the bobblehead dolls Hornaday angrily ridiculed.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our systems are failing fast. As we reveal ourselves as the party of twee and of perpetual high self-regard, is it likely that we liberals will find a way to stop this?
For extra credit only: Back in 2016, was it really Beau Biden's dying wish that Hillary had to be stopped? Was the dying wish really voiced with his last few nouns?
Where did Maureen Dowd's claim come from? Why did her newspaper print the unsourced claim in a major front-page news report?
Also, are you happy with what that alleged dying wish helped buy us? For our money, it was the shakiest sounding dying statement since Bob Woodward allegedly snuck into Georgetown Hospital, where he allegedly heard Bill Casey's dying reveal.
As we said in the passage above, quite a few systems are failing around us or have perhaps already failed.