‘My Most Fervent Wish’

‘My Most Fervent Wish’

“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

Those were among Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s final words according to a statement dictated to her granddaughter, Clara Spera, as reported by NPR in the hours after her passing on Friday evening.

Suffice to say Ginsburg’s wish will not be honored. Or if it is, it won’t be because Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell decided of their own accord to exercise restraint at a time when the country has suffered what Nancy Pelosi described as an “incalculable loss”.

The stakes do not get any higher. And, for Republicans, the associated hypocrisy could not be any more glaring. In 2016, McConnell famously blocked Merrick Garland’s nomination, citing the proximity of the election. “The American people”, McConnell said, “should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice”.

Republicans variously cited Joe Biden who, in a 1992 speech on the Senate floor, declared that “once the political season is under way… action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over”.

Biden, then vice president, accused Republicans of “quoting selectively” from that speech. “There is no ‘Biden rule'”, he told an audience at Georgetown Law, calling the idea “frankly ridiculous”. “It doesn’t exist”, he added.

Now, Republicans who in 2016 justified an 11-month blockade of Merrick Garland based in part on an imaginary “rule” named for then-vice president Biden, are poised to forge ahead with reckless abandon on a Trump nominee, less than two months ahead of an election that finds Biden seeking the presidency.

“Americans re-elected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary”, McConnell said, in a statement following Ginsburg’s death. “Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate”.

Crucially, he didn’t say when. Indeed, a pair of former Senate Republican aides close to McConnell told The New York Times that in their reading, his statement meant “that he was not committed to pushing through the confirmation before the election and may wait until the lame-duck session”. That carries its own risks.

It’s also possible that some vulnerable Republicans and/or McConnell’s trio of moderates will balk at the sheer egregiousness of the hypocrisy. That hesitancy to countenance a total repudiation of McConnell’s own position from 2016 could be exacerbated by the almost macabre lack of respect a rushed process would show for Ginsburg, one of the single greatest Americans to grace the pages of the country’s modern history.

Susan Collins, for example, has indicated previously that voting on a new justice next month would be inappropriate. Collins is still feeling the heat from her vote for Brett Kavanaugh, and she’s trailing in the polls. While one imagines a new nominee won’t face the same kinds of accusations that Kavanaugh faced during his nomination, the optics for Collins are challenging, to say the least.

For her part, Lisa Murkowski said Friday (prior to Ginsburg’s passing) that she “would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee… 50 some days away from an election”. She cited McConnell’s 2016 precedent. “That was too close to an election”, Murkowski remarked. “The closer you get to an election, that argument becomes even more important”.

Mitt Romney, who voted to remove Trump from office, has offered scathing criticism of the president on a number of issues. As the Times notes, “were those three senators to vote against Trump’s nominee, only for [Mike] Pence to push through the nominee by casting a tiebreaking vote, analysts said it would provoke a constitutional crisis”. (It wouldn’t be the first of this administration.)

For Trump, Ginsburg’s passing is arguably a game-changing campaign boon. With 200,000 Americans dead to the pandemic and the economy having just suffered the worst downturn since the Great Depression, the president’s “KAGA” (“Keep America Great Again”) mantra is absurd on its face. Now, there’s a new galvanizing issue and if there’s anything Trump knows how to do, it’s amplify polarizing issues.

Ginsburg stood against everything Trump represents. She was, in so many ways, the antithesis of Trumpism. It would be dishonest of me to understate the case in an effort to placate anyone who supports the president. So, let me just state this plainly and unequivocally: There is something profoundly disturbing about a man like Donald Trump deciding who should replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The juxtaposition between the two could not be more stark. One is charlatan embodied. The other is character personified.

There are, of course, dozens upon dozens of soundbites one can conjure to underline what is sure to be one of the most astounding displays of political hypocrisy in the history of the country.

Importantly, many such soundbites admit of no ambiguity. That is, no spin or interpretation is possible.

In 2018, for example, Lindsey Graham said that “if an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait to the next election”. It does not get any clearer than that. Or, actually it does. Because in 2016, Graham said the following:

I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.

Again, there are dozens of similar quotes from Republicans, some of whom have already contradicted themselves following Ginsburg’s death.

Amy Klobuchar summed things up. “While no one will ever truly be able to replace Justice Ginsburg, a new president should fill the vacancy”, she remarked. “Just like Mitch McConnell said”.

Flags are at half-staff across the country Saturday.


17 thoughts on “‘My Most Fervent Wish’

  1. Left wing progressives who held up their noses and didn’t support Hillary are panicking. Could McConnell’s action actually galvanize the left and help Biden by gaining more independents? What options do Dems have to stop this? Can Pelosi try to stall the budget and stimulus bills until McConnell backs down?

    1. Even the language is under siege. Trumplicans and their Republican co-conspirators labeled Democrats as Dems, so that people hear a negative term “dim,” instead of a positive democratic.

      Crazy, sad, crooked, etc., all ways to quickly label someone or something for the masses of people who refuse to see what is happening to the country, because of laziness, blind ideology, and misplaced faith.

      1. I take the email blasts from “Foreign Affairs.” On June 30th, they published a snapshot titled “How a Great Power Falls Apart” by Charles King, with subtitle “Decline Is Invisible From the Inside.”

        They republished it this morning.

  2. This throws another variable in the calculus of the markets. But which markets. This variable is a qualitative, emotional one. Probably act to the increase or decrease the second derivative of one or more other variable.

  3. “There is something profoundly disturbing about a man like Donald Trump deciding who should replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”

    So True.
    Another Reflection of America’s decline.
    A Continuation of the 2000 Supreme Court decided Election debacle; … we had a budgetary surplus then btw.
    Another Brick in the Wall.

    Timing wise there is no way they can have a vote prior to the election, lame duck session another story.
    Maybe something good will come out of this; now we only left with hope, little else.

  4. In 2016, people told me I was crazy for asserting Putin was behind the GOP. In January, people called me crazy for preparing for a global epidemic. Now they are call me crazy for forming and expatriating funds in an offshore LLC with a large initial tax hit. I hate being correct in my prognostications. I wish my market bets were as prescient.

  5. More than probable, it’s nearly guaranteed this election will end up at the Supreme Court, with electoral votes of several states possibly in dispute, mail-in paper ballots not being counted, etc. Even in the unlikely scenario in which the Republicans do not vote in a 9th justice with brute force, the swing vote would presumably be a Gorsuch-Roberts coalition. Not very promising for the Democrats chances of “winning”. Alternatively, imagine a hung election followed by a hung 4-4 Court. I presume in that scenario that Roberts would go w the conservatives, to keep up the presences of stability and theatrics of democracy.

      1. I’m aware. That’s why he isn’t likely to vote w the liberals unless he pulls in Gorsuch to go along with it. I’m putting a close to 0% probably on Thomas, Alito, and Kavanaugh (when have they ever?). Roberts is an institutionalist and isn’t likely to hang the institution out to dry on his watch. One can imagine him rationalizing it as “preserving the republic”. So the form can continue to outlive the substance. Ceremony posited as functionality.

  6. As a Canadian, I constantly shake my head at the dis-function of the US. RBG was more than a hero. The constitution guarantees equal rights, yet she and others have had to constantly battle to make it real. Why is this such a big deal? Why is everything politicized? Get over yourselves. Treat people fairly and with respect. Value education. So much potential is wasted every day. You will get the country you choose to have.

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