By Mark Green
Corn and Cooke agree that Trump would get slaughtered by HRC and could split the GOP. Then: Who wins the battle to replace Scalia -- McConnell's Refusniks or a POTUS telling the Senate "#DoYourJob"?
The Attack on Trump. His five million twitter followers and skilled performance art at large rallies have combined to swamp other Republicans playing by old rules. Now Rubio and Cruz are using Donald's own tactics of nasty ridicule to trip up the frontrunner. Too late?
Charles Cooke of The National Review thinks that Rubio' barbs at the last debate "were a perfect start, but now we need a Manhattan Project to follow up." Adds David Corn of Mother Jones, "The problem is not so much Trump but all the crap that the GOP has been saying - from death panels to birtherism -- so that now the base wants candidates who will DO something about all that."
Charles thinks that Rubio calling Trump a "con artist" is perfect because "you have to show that he's not some alpha male but is lying to you about being on the side of the little guy." Host: i.e., the issue is not policy but sincerity.
Madame Hillary Climbs Her Everest. Should critics probably stop arguing that "she's just a lousy candidate" now that HRC tied the most talented candidate in the modern era in the popular vote in 2008 and rebounded from a bad two months to win South Carolina by nearly 50 points? Charles is impressed by Sanders constancy and authenticity, as are many Democratic voters. But in a profession where majority wins, he understands that Clinton in now prevailing and will be hard to stop.
We agree that it's very smart for her to go all out to impress the half of SC Democrats who are black that she's on their side by campaigning with the mothers of children killed by police violence. But does it risk driving the white male vote down to 30 percent in November? With her position on guns, perhaps, "but it's a balancing act, as it is for the Republicans" concludes Charles.
Can Trump beat her? Cooke: "Small to non-existent chance." Risk of splitting up the GOP? "The party is staring the abyss in the face with a nominee who has a 70 percent unfavorable rating this Fall." (Already, Republican policy leaders like Lowry, Kristol, Frum, Erickson, Gerson, Wehner have said they couldn't support him. On deadline, Republican electeds appear about to say so.)
McConnell's Court? Strict constructionists claim that somewhere in invisible ink Article 2 of the Constitution it says in that a black president should not nominate a Justice in the last year of his second term and that the next election -- not the two he won -- should govern. (Should a senator in the last year of his/her six-year term not vote but rather defer to whoever wins the seat in the following election?)
Asked who has the better argument, Cooke says neither since obviously a President "shall" nominate but the Senate has a parallel right to advise, consent, or do nothing -- and that, like the fight over the fiscal cliff, this will eventually get sorted out in the public arena.
Corn agrees constitutionally..."but then the Senate doesn't have to pass a budget or hold hearings or do anything at all," though has a political and moral obligation to do so. There's uncertainty about who blinks. Presumably Obama will nominate someone qualified and put Republicans in the awkward position, again, of being "The Party of Hell No!" (Named after ex-Speaker Boehner's repeated declarations of "Hell No" and McConnell's claim this week that 44's choice "has a snowball's chance in hell" of being confirmed much less considered.)
The Host opines that it's at least even money that Majority Leader McConnell backs down when public opinion, now split, moves in Obama's direction after it's explained that refusal to consider a nominee in the last year of a term hasn't happened in over a hundred years - witness a Democratic Senate confirming Anthony Kennedy in Reagan's final year. Also, the slogan "GOP: Do Your Job" can both jeopardize marginal Republican incumbents in purple states while also making it harder for the party of win the presidency. If Trump's the nominee, why allow Clinton the pick when there are likely more Democratic Senators, perhaps even a majority?
Cooke says McConnell can't give in "without breaking his party apart."
If McConnell holds out and maintains his majority, does he have the nerve and power to refuse to consider any Supreme Court appointments over the next four or eight years or is that a level of obstruction too far even for a Heads-I-Win, Tails-You-Lose GOP (see filibusters, gerrymandering, money, SupCourt)? Charles thinks that's so out-there as to be nearly inconceivable. David doesn't put it past the Grand Old Party to at least try....that is, if the party's still around after Trump makes Goldwater look like a winner.
Guantanamo. Charles thinks that an executive order shutting it down and transferring the remaining 90-odd inmates to maximum security prisons is so unpopular with Senators from those states that it won't happen...nor can Obama do it by executive order since legislation is needed to spend money to accomplish the transfers. The panel seems to agree that it would be an acceptable policy result given how the status quo further inflames tensions in the Arab world. But it's unlikely to go anywhere...other than enabling Obama to get through his "bucket" list. Or what he said at the White House Correspondent's Dinner rhymes with "bucket" list.
But as Obama more seriously noted last year, "a lot of interesting things happen in the fourth quarter." This cocky, jocky president seems intent on running up the score as his poll numbers rise and those of the opposition fall.