What does the descent into panic look like? In movies it seems to involve a lot of widening of eyes, some interesting visuals as the background either fades from focus or snaps into focus, and, of course, lots of music, usually with plenty of cello’s. In the Republican Party, in this election cycle it seems to revolve around finding an acceptable candidate to brush aside the Goat Rodeo contestants at the RNC Convention.
The problem for the establishment types who are starting to hear the cellos is that they don’t really have anyone that could unite their fractured and fractious party. The obvious choices, folks like Mitch Daniels or Chris Christie have been clear in their refusal to even entertain a last minute bid.
With a long and embarrassingly fringy primary season already in full swing the odd balls like Donald Trump or (gods greater and lesser forbid) Sarah Palin are really no better. So that leaves them looking around for, to paraphrase Monty Python, someone completely different.
It is so bad that over at Tucker Carlson’s Fox “News” Lite wannabe blog, Daily Beast, one of his minions is proposing that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas could be the one to save the Republicans from themselves this cycle.
I’ll just pause here for everyone to either catch their breath or wipe the coffee off their monitor screens.
Adam Winkler is a Constitutional Law professor at UCLA School of Law. He is often held up by Conservatives as a moderate voice in issues like 2nd Amendment issues, religious freedom and federalism. Which, to just about everyone reading this means he is basically a beard for the Radical Reactionary Right in the Republican Party, commonly known as their base.
Yesterday Mr. Winkler (not the Fonz to be sure), penned a little love note to one of the worst Supreme Court Justices in my life, extolling his virtues as a replacement candidate should the Republicans not have a solid nominee after one ballot at their convention.
The basic premise here is that Justice Thomas is the “real conservative” who could unite all the disparate factions of the GOP. Take a look at this paragraph:
Unlike the flip-flopping Mitt Romney, Thomas is a true conservative who could appeal to all of the segments of the Republican coalition. Tea Partiers would see Thomas as one of their own. Not only has he been a consistent voice to curtail the power of the federal government but his wife Ginni, a Tea Party activist herself, has been a leader in the fight to repeal Obama’s healthcare reform law. Wall Street Republicans would be buoyed by Thomas’s opposition to environmental regulation and his free market philosophy. Blue-collar workers could embrace Thomas’s up-by-his-bootstraps story of rising from incredible poverty–until he was 7, his home had no indoor plumbing–and his votes to end affirmative action and preserve the Second Amendment. Evangelicals will like that he’s against abortion, gay rights, and limits on prayer in school.This is a perfect example of how Republicans talk on just about every issue. Sure these things are true, but they only support the idea that Thomas would be a good candidate if one is drinking the Kool-Aid of the Right.
Sure Teahadists will like that his wife is one of them, and that he wants to shrink government, but the Tea Party has a horrible favorability rating.
Beyond that fact that this would make things ugly with Independent voters that any GOP candidate has to have, it brings in to real play the fact that Thomas probably should have rescued himself on a wide range of issues that he wife has worked on politically.
It would make explicit the premise that she has influence on what he does on the bench. Which would really open up the can of worms for his whole raft of unethical behavior, including the sexual harassment of Anita Hill.
Republicans are already turning off women in droves this cycle with their overt attempts to treat them like second class citizens who should be trusted to neither fight for their nation nor control their own reproduction. To nominate Justice Thomas would be another slap in the face of to a block of voters who comprise more than 50% of the electorate.
To me that should be more than enough to make this post a total farce, but there is just so much more wrong with a Thomas nomination at the Convention. This is a Justice who falls asleep at a Presidential Inauguration, has been credibly accused of tax evasion and have been a guest speaker at functions thrown by the Koch Brothers when he was sitting on the Citizens United case.
It might be that nominating him would fire up the Republican base, but there is no doubt that if he were the nominee it would create a firestorm for the Democrats in terms of money and volunteers.
Mr. Winkler thinks that Thomas’ engaging personality (I’ve never seen it myself, but maybe when billionaires are footing the bill he let’s his hair down) would make him attractive to votes. It is possible, I guess.
However, this completely ignores the main problem with a brokered convention nominating anyone who as not run in the primaries. It is a gigantic fuck you to the entire Republican base who have voted, worked and donated to the various candidates this cycle.
Everyone of them would, correctly, see this as being told by their leadership that they can not be trusted to know who would be a good presidential nominee or president. Even for the more hierarchical of our two major political parties it would be a disaster on the order of the Japanese tsunami and nuclear meltdown.
So for all that we will keep seeing various and increasingly less likely candidates proposed, for all that Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels will keep getting more and more desperate phone calls asking them to step forward, it is just not going to happen.
This GOP primary cycle is a roller coaster. Once the party got on there is no getting off no matter how terrifying it gets for them. The good news, such as it is, is that when it is over they will basically be back where they started, Barack Obama will be the president of the United States and they will still have their bat-shit insane base in the driver seat.
Until this happens, I think that Adam Winkler ought to stick to writing about the law, he doesn’t seem to have a very good grasp of politics and what it takes for a candidate to be viable.
The floor is yours.