Saturday night’s Republican debate in South Carolina, surprise, surprise, played out as yet another episode of “Survivor.” Oh sure, the harshest and most bitter debate exchanges to date made for pretty good political entertainment, but for our money CBS moderator John Dickerson would have done better by sticking to solely one issue: the implications of the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the nasty and spiteful leader of the Supreme Court’s right-wing majority.
Dickerson began the spirited, if ignorant, event properly, by asking each of the still-standing GOP wannabes whether they thought President Obama should nominate a replacement for the late Mr. Scalia, or leave that decision to his successor.
Delay, Delay Delay In a demonstration of just how singularly crucial the SCOTUS appointment power is to the presidency, all half-dozen basically (and infuriatingly, but we digress) said, ‘no,’ although Donald Trump and Jeb Bush said they would act if they were in the same position as Obama, but then quickly called for the Senate to reject whoever the president sent them.
The six also took turns slobbering over Scalia, and singing his praises to the heavens for being an “originalist,” i.e. a jurist who liked to play at living in the 18th century and sending down thunderbolt decisions more appropriate for an historic era featuring the stocks and leeching than smart phones and nanoscience. Typical was Marco Rubio:
He will go down as one of the great justices in the history of this republic. You talk about someone who defended consistently the original meaning of the constitution, who understood that the constitution was not there to be interpreted based on the fads of the moment, but that they were there to– it was there to be interpreted according to its original meaning. Justice Scalia understood that better than anyone in the history of this republic…
Someone on this stage will get to choose the– the balance of the Supreme Court. And it will begin by filling this vacancy that’s there now. And we need to put people on the bench that understand that the constitution is not a living and breathing document. It is to be interpreted as originally meant.
See, right there’s your problem.
ABC: Always Believe Calbuzz. We consistently have criticized the political MSM for focusing on the urgent over the important in covering political campaigns, chronicling daily media events instead of pivotal issues of governance, while all ignoring every four years the most consequential matter of any presidential race, an argument we’ve made here, here and here.
They undercover what is important in favor of over-blowing the immediate. Hence: let’s hyperventilate about every daily national preference poll, while giving short shrift to what the surveys show about the status of the Electoral College, and excitedly inform readers and viewers that every bump in the road when actually not much is happening at all.
Campaign reporters, with the exception of the one or two who will ask dutiful questions in the debates, all but ignore the whys and wherefores of what is arguably the most significant power any president has: the appointment of Supreme Court justices, and how the differences in whom the candidate will choose as nominees shape the nation for decades into the future.
Before the late Mr. Scalia was found dead in his bed on Saturday morning, he was one of a quartet of serious geezers on the court.
Memo to Democrats now frisking and frolicking with Bernie Sanders: Any doubt about the seriousness of whether voters elect a Democrat or a Republican in November may be answered with three key facts: Stephen Breyer, age 77; Anthony Kennedy, 79, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, 82.
As we wrote about five weeks ago:
While polling shows Clinton with a big lead over Sanders nationally, it’s still way past time for the so-called progressive Democrats to wake up. What’s most at stake is not health care, foreign policy, the economy, environmental regulation and civil rights – although all of them are certainly at stake. The big issue that should be driving Democrats to rally around Clinton is the United States Supreme Court…
On abortion rights, organized labor, voting rights, environmental policy, affirmative action, civil rights, health care, political reform and so much more, a Supreme Court with perhaps three more right-wing jurists could – and likely would – utterly destroy the hopes and dreams of moderate, centrist, liberal and progressive Americans, of women, minorities, gays and lesbians, the working class, poor and dispossessed.
In other news: Bush bashed Trump, Trump bashed Bush, Ted Cruz bashed Rubio, Rubio bashed Cruz, Cruz bashed Trump, and Trump bashed Cruz. John Kasich said he was above it all. Ben Carson was there too.
The hilarious and insightful Calbuzz Twitter feed from the debate can be found here.