Trump’s Supreme mistake: Barrett’s nomination may well supercharge Democratic turnout
As the Senate conducts its hearing to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court this week, the timing of her nomination — just a week and a day after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and weeks before a presidential election — has enraged Democrats in Congress and many Democratic voters.
While they may be deeply offended by President Trump and the Republicans’ brute-force power play, especially given how the GOP thwarted President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, in 2016, they also may come to appreciate the timing in hindsight.
To be sure, Democrats will likely be agonized for years to come over Barrett’s seemingly inevitable appointment to the high court — Trump’s third in just one very consequential term. She could give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the court, and for a very long time.
But what if, in the shorter term, it turns out to have helped send Trump packing from the White House?
“Trump” and “strategy” aren’t words you put together all that often — this is a guy who’s currently promising to kiss rallygoers less than a week after contracting a deadly infectious disease — but who am I to judge?
Yet even by his standards the politics of pushing Barrett through make little sense, and even look to benefit Democrats.
Instead of dangling the prospect of a third Supreme Court appointment, Trump insisted on giving it away for free before an election in which he is not assured a victory. In fact, Joe Biden is polling better against the incumbent than any challenger has since 1936.
If Trump’s “very stable genius” were made up of more than just fumbling swipes at immediate gratification, he would have withheld the nomination, and opened every rally from the day Ginsburg passed until the election promising to deliver a third justice only when and if he is re-elected.
He would have threatened that without his re-election, Democrats would appoint a “far-left, socialist radical” who’d “destroy American life as they know it.” He would have used it to instill the kind of cartoonish, apocalyptic fear (of seemingly everything but a deadly global pandemic) that has defined much of his presidency.
Instead, there’s little if any drama or urgency surrounding the Barrett pick. She’s practically assured a confirmation, with nothing Democrats can do to stop it. Trump supporters can rest easy that this one will get through, with or without their help.