If polls are to be believed, President Trump’s standing has fallen sharply among seniors. Commentators have generally attributed Mr. Trump’s apparent loss of senior support to his mishandling of our Coronavirus response. If he has indeed lost senior support, I wonder whether it doesn’t have more meaning than that: while COVID has brought into stark relief Mr. Trump’s incompetence and disregard for seniors’ safety, it has also caused seniors to confront the sheer lunacy of his presidency. Seniors remember when the president, even if you disagreed with his particular policies, at least … made sense. While Bernie, Elizabeth, or Pete might have conjured up fears of continued craziness, Joe Biden offers the prospect of … sanity. Even if some fellow seniors don’t share my deep abhorrence for the president’s lies, bullying, racism, and dictatorial inclinations, I suspect that many share my attendant wish for a stop to the noise and the craziness.
I’m fascinated that in recent days the Republicans have tried to resurrect their allegations about … wait for it … former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump has spoken about it; Vice President Pence threw in references to Sec. Clinton near the end of the Vice Presidential debate; I saw one clip in which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assured us (complete with sardonic smile, almost diabolically rubbing his hands in glee) that he has Ms. Clinton’s allegedly deleted emails and will tell us more before the election. This is obviously designed to elicit the Pavlovian response from the Republican faithful. We ourselves have family members (of both genders) who get terribly exercised at the very mention of Ms. Clinton. My reaction to Mr. Pompeo’s claim: unless he produces a validated Clinton email which says, “I told Joe Biden that I was intentionally violating email security protocols and exposing our most sensitive information to Russia and China, and Joe said, ‘Great – Go for it!’”, what swing voter – upon whose vote the outcome of the presidential election will rest — cares anymore? While she’s perhaps not the most likeable, I have never understood the Republican rabid Hillary Clinton fixation. As First Lady and then Secretary of State, her responsibility was to support the policies of the sitting President. Has there ever been a more inept national politician? With all of the Clintons’ institutional advantages in 2008, how does one lose to a 2-year Illinois U.S. Senator, no matter how charismatic he is? In 2016, how does one lose to … Donald Trump? Let her rest in peace.
I haven’t been able to muster up that much interest in Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearings or Judge Barrett’s impending ascension to the Supreme Court. As all that read these pages are aware, I’m terribly troubled by the Republicans’ hypocrisy in thwarting Judge Garland’s Supreme Court nomination while pushing Judge Barrett’s; to me, it’s not about what the Senate had the right to do or not do, it’s about partisan Senate Republicans’ failure to honorably do what they should have done. That said, it’s clear that Judge Barrett seems overwhelmingly likely to be confirmed. Since she is undisputedly eminently qualified (albeit staunchly conservative) and apparently has no objective disqualifying factors such as drug addiction, I believe she should be. I will nonetheless venture that if Mr. Biden wins the election and the Democrats gain control of the Senate, the liberal angst about Ms. Barrett’s ascension is overwrought. Demographic and cultural mores sweeping this nation will not be held back by six conservative Justices, including the three Trump appointees, frantically trying to hold back the tide. Public perception of the Court is no longer of robed oracles on pedestals as it was when President Franklin Roosevelt proposed his court packing plan in 1937. Although Mr. Roosevelt’s initiative resulted in the most stinging political defeat of his career [although it didn’t stop him from being re-elected – twice – thereafter ;)], some scholars suggest that Mr. Roosevelt’s legislative overture caused “the switch in time that save nine” – conservative Justice Owen Roberts’ sudden joining with the liberal Justices to uphold New Deal positions. I predict that independent voter support for court packing will mushroom if the Affordable Care Act is struck down or Roe v. Wade overruled. The current conservative Justices will ultimately either accommodate their rulings to changing American sensibilities, be neutered by a legislative increase in Supreme Court seats, or depart the Court via “voluntary” retirement or impeachment. On the other hand, if Mr. Trump is re-elected, a conservative Supreme Court majority will be among the lesser of our problems.
As the polls indicate – whether or not accurately – a potential “Blue Wave” in unlikely places such as Texas and Georgia, I wonder whether former U.S. TX Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former GA State Rep. Stacey Abrams have experienced pangs about rejecting the Democratic National Committee’s repeated requests that they run for the U.S. Senate in their respective states in 2020. While their reluctance earlier this year was understandable – both had come off close defeats in a non-presidential election year, and presumably didn’t like their electoral prospects against apparently popular incumbent Senators in a presidential election year – arguably the enthusiasm each engendered in their narrow 2018 defeats, against a backdrop of a seemingly dramatic shift in voter sentiment brought about by Mr. Trump, might in hindsight have given either or both of them a springboard to victory. Two years ago, everyone knew of Mr. O’Rourke and Ms. Abrams; how many can name the current Texas and Georgia Democratic Senate candidates?
A good friend recently sent me the following link to an article reporting upon the State of Wisconsin’s ongoing negotiations with Foxconn. The arrangement touted with such fanfare in June, 2018, by President Trump, then Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan, and then WI Gov. Scott Walker is — and there is no kinder way to accurately describe it — a debacle.
All reports indicate that we’re going in the wrong direction on COVID. Be careful.