Wow, does the White House have a mess on its hands. They’ve been able to maintain some semblance of party loyalty by touting two things; tax cuts and the courts. However, the GOP tax cut is deeply unpopular and their Supreme Court pick just blew up in their face akin to Clarence Thomas did 27 years ago. On top of that, they are facing the biggest gender gap in election history and their hand picked candidate is accused of a teenage attempted assault/rape. In the age of #metoo, I cannot think of a worse outcome than nominating a potential Harvey Weinstein to a lifetime appointment. He deserves ALL the scrutiny about to come his way (and I’ll add, the woman, a modern day Anita Hill does too; such an allegation does not get a free pass).
I’m not advising the White House; in fact, I’m not even conservative or believe in most of what Republicans have advocated recently, just the opposite. I’ve preferred to see Trump go down in flames from day one. I’ve never seen anyone so unfit for office. However, since this issue closely mirrors some of Trump’s own conduct (he is currently being sued by Summer Zervos, Stephanie Clifford and Karen McDougal based on sexual indiscretions, and in his Access Hollywood tape he admitted to sexual assault; this doesn’t even get into the “golden shower” pee tape Russia may have), the issue is that much more profound. That doesn’t mean it can’t be handled, it’s just particularly thorny for this President. So if I were advising the President (I feel dirty whenever I refer to Trump as “The President” but elections have consequences), here is what I would suggest:
Withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination. Appoint a woman instead.
The stench still surrounds Clarence Thomas all these years later. No Justice wants that around. Kavanaugh already has a lifetime appointment to a lesser court. I’m positive he and his family do not want to deal with this much heat. So instead of Thomas, he just goes back to being a Douglas Ginsburg/Harriet Myers also-ran and soon forgotten. Withdrawing the nomination does a number of things.
- It gives the Democrats a scalp that helps compensate for the Merrick Garland debacle. It doesn’t at all in the end, since Trump still gets to appoint another Justice and who is likely to be conservative. However, it helps diffuse a lot of bad blood Dems have regarding getting screwed when Garland was denied even a hearing.
- It mitigates a potentially cataclysmic gender gap issue that downballot GOP reps up for election in November don’t want anywhere near them. They were already facing an uphill battle, but introducing this issue 50 days before an election makes it that much worse. GOP elected officials in some pretty safe GOP districts were already going to be surprised how close things were, but this has the potential to turn a wave into a tsunami. Removing it as an issue at least prevents them from having to stake out a position on an issue while on the trail that they don’t (and in the case of most of them, since they are predominantly men, can’t effectively) want to make. The longer this is out there as an issue, the more likely they get eviscerated among women in November.
- Elevating a woman to the Court would mean there would be four female justices for the first time ever. Since there are only nine Justices on the Court, this is as close to gender equity as the Supreme Court can get.
It was noted that Amy Coney Barrett was one of the finalists this time around for the Court. At just 46 years old she has the potential to be on the Court for another 40-50 years. She’s also a product of Notre Dame Law School, which would break up the monopoly of Ivy League products currently on the Court. She doesn’t have the political paper trail that Kavanaugh had (and was covered up by the GOP lead Judiciary Committee). She’s as conservative as Kavanaugh really, perhaps even more so given her opinions on particular social issues. Most importantly, how would Democrats effectively stop her? It would be tremendously difficult, unless some skeleton deep in the closet comes out like it did with Kavanaugh.
So from a political perspective, that switch makes complete sense. Would Trump do it? Of course not. It means retreating, which is something Trump doesn’t do even when he makes a horrific error. Nonetheless, that’s what I would advise if I were in the White House right now.
Thoughts? Comments? Please put in the comments below.