“And you’re surprised?”
Do I know my community-organizer presidents, or what?
Responding to the untimely passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, President Barack Obama declared that he will nominate a successor, breaking a nearly 100-year tradition. Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican presidential candidates have encouraged him to wait for the next president, who will be elected this November.
“I plan to fulfill one of my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor, in due time,” Obama declared in a statement Saturday evening. “There will be plenty of time for me to do so and for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote.” Obama emphasized, “These are responsibilities that I take seriously and so should everyone— they are bigger than any one party, they are about our democracy.”
No lame duck president has nominated a Supreme Court justice in an election year for eighty years, a fact which both Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz mentioned in the Republican presidential debate Saturday evening.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R, Iowa) said that “it’s been standard practice over the last 80 years to not confirm Supreme Court nominees during a presidential election year.”
And there’s good reason for that: the Supreme Court, which, since the New Deal, has effectively served as a 2nd, unelected legislature, makes decisions crucial to the daily lives of Americans on highly controversial matters. Whether the next president is a conservative Republican, a crooked cronyist progressive Democrat, or a Socialist running as a Democrat, it’s been the tradition to not make appointments during a presidential election year because there are so many issues are at stake that people feel passionately about. It behooves us to wait until the election gauges the national mood to see which direction the people, through their choice of president and senators, want the Court to go. It also avoids adding yet another inevitably politicized argument to an already contentious election.
Some writers looked at this tradition and speculated that Obama would honor it and let the Court operate with eight justices until the new president could make a choice. I’m not sure why they would think that, since Barack Obama —mentored by a Stalinist in Hawaii as a boy, a committed Marxist-Leninist as an undergraduate, and a devotee of Saul Alinsky as a community organizer– has never show any understanding or respect for American traditions.
On the contrary, I speculated yesterday that Obama would use this opportunity to pick a fight:
While we don’t know Obama’s choice yet (1), his statement makes me think I’m more likely right than not. Consider:
Obama’s first job out of college was as a community organizer, the profession invented by Saul Alinsky, the Socialist whose main motivation was the taking of power and who developed the tactics used by community organizers to this day — including Obama. Consider Alinsky’s Rule 12:
Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.
The community organizer wins by dividing groups, setting them against each other so that his side is ready to take action while the other is reeling. Compromise, other than a faux-compromise that gives the Alinskyist what he wants, becomes impossible because the community organizer does not want a compromise.
He wants power.
It is my belief that President Obama will choose someone wholly unacceptable to the Senate majority, but around whom he can rally his side and polarize the issue, painting the Republicans as obstructionists and even racists or sexists (or both). Someone such as California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, a very left-leaning Asian-American jurist who’s already been rejected for the federal bench by the Senate. Or Tom Perez, the Hispanic Secretary of Labor who, as an Assistant Attorney General under Eric Holder, helped push the Civil Rights Division far to the left.
The Senate would rightfully reject either man (2), and then Obama would exploit this to rally his side in the November election, with the media as his willing flacks. The news articles and network broadcasts and campaign commercials (but I repeat myself) write themselves. It wouldn’t be about judicial philosophy or the nominee’s record; instead, Obama and his allies would strongly imply that the Republicans are derelict in their duty, keeping the Court from doing it’s job, probably from racist motives.
It would be horse manure, but it would still do damage to the Republicans, who’ve shown themselves to be utterly inept at fighting back.
Obama wants this fight. He’s picked his target (Senate Republicans); he’ll freeze them, trapping them with their own words about “up or down votes;” he’ll personalize it (“They’re doing this because I’m Black.”); and he will polarize the issue to get his side fired up for the election. Getting his choice for Justice would be gravy.
Get ready for a wild ride.
1) Can you say “Mr. Justice Eric Holder?”
2) I’m not convinced Obama would be all that unhappy to see his choice lose, for reasons I explain above.