The opposition to the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice has evolved from the merely desperate to the hilariously desperate. A good example of the latter can be seen in the July 10 New York magazine in which writer Ed Kilgore suggests that the Maine Democrats politically bribe Republican Senator Susan Collins with a promise by their state chairman to endorse her when she is up for re-election in 2020.
Perhaps I am old school enough to believe that a bribe should be given in its traditional form as cash wrapped inside a brown paper bag but Kilgore somehow thinks that his political bribe could work as he reveals on July 10 in How Maine Democrats Can Save Roe v. Wade:
As I observed earlier today, the sad reality of the soon-to-be-intense fight over confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court is that if Senate Republicans stick together, he’ll be confirmed, period. And if it does become a party-line vote, Democrats will be forced to choose between (a) taking a dive and thereby angering the many rank-and-file members of their party who rightly fear Kavanaugh will, among other bad things, represent the fifth SCOTUS vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and eliminate the constitutional right to an abortion, or (b) placing pressure on their own Senate Conference to cast a futile vote against Kavanaugh, including several very vulnerable red-state senators who might thereby succumb to Republicans in November. It’s a classic damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation: surrender or frag your own wounded.
Remember how liberals use to portray President Donald Trump as some sort of idiot who didn’t understand politics? Look who’s screeching now over being placed in a political bind.
But there is an alternative, though it’s quite unconventional and a long shot to boot. There are two pro-choice U.S. senators who probably share (privately at least) the fears of abortion-rights supporters about Kavanaugh’s impact on Roe v. Wade. Susan Collins of Maine is up for reelection in 2020, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska faces voters in 2022, and we have no particular reason to think either is ready to retire any time soon. One of the main reasons each would have for supporting Kavanaugh is to head off a reelection bid in which they might face a right-bent anti-abortion primary opponent and then a viable Democrat. That’s particularly true of Collins; Murkowski probably doesn’t fear any general election opponent in strongly Republican Alaska. What if Maine Democrats took that incentive for party loyalty off the table by paving the way to an easy general election in 2020?
Let’s make this simple: Suppose Maine Democratic chairman Phil Bartlett called a press conference tomorrow and offered to endorse Collins’s reelection if she votes against Kavanaugh? If she took the bait, then Democrats would have it in their power to stop the judge’s confirmation by their own efforts, and that might justify endangering a Democratic senator or two if it meant forcing Trump to appoint a different kind of SCOTUS justice. And if Collins said “No thanks,” then Democrats would have at least demonstrated to their pro-choice supporters that they are willing to sacrifice their partisan interests to principle in so important a matter.
Perhaps we should conjure up the ghost of former Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania who, in exchange for switching from Republican to Democrat and pledging to vote for Obamacare, was promised he would be supported by Barack Obama in his next primary. You can find out how well that promise worked out for him at Specter says Obama ditched him after he provided 60th vote to pass health reform.
Now let me hasten to add that I don’t know Mr. Bartlett, have only been to Maine once in my life (many years ago), and do not possess a single clue as to whether Democrats in that state would even consider making this extremely unselfish Supreme gesture, and if so, whether it could be enforced on potential candidates. For all I know, the people that would be involved in this imaginary deal meet every night to vow eternal warfare against Collins.
I also don’t know Mr. Bartlett but he would need extreme willpower to stifle his laughter as he makes this promise to Senator Collins.