Issue #6: D.C. can be a cruel place, the President’s Supreme Court pick and more

Edited by David S. Kerr 

A product of Morningside Communications. (Issue #6) 

(This week: The impact of the President Trump’s Supreme Court on the campaign – what about those strong Biden poll numbers in traditionally red states – a look at Dick Nixon’s 50 state campaign strategy in 1960 – and a take on America’s place in the world from our British correspondent in “Across the Pond.”)

Washington, D.C. can be a cruel place

It was kind of a sad commentary, but when one of the greats of the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, died on Sept. 18, it took, oh, about 30 seconds, for the press, as well as the President and the Senate to start gaming her replacement.  In fact, the game plan for approving her replacement was already in place before the late Justice’s funeral services were finished.  Alas, that’s the nature of Washington, D.C.  No doubt why President Harry Truman said, “…in Washington if you want a friend, get a dog.” 

The President’s Supreme Court pick. What happens next and how does it affect the campaign?

It looks like President Trump will nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to the open Supreme Court seat left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  From now on, this process is going to move fast.  The GOP knows that if Donald Trump loses the election, they won’t get another conservative appointment for several years.  What’s more, they know that if the President’s nominee to the court is approved it cements conservative majority on the high court.  So, what we are likely to see?  In some respects, not much.  It’s all an exercise in raw political power.  First, no matter how harsh the confirmation hearing might be, and there is no guarantee it will be all that harsh, the GOP majority in the Senate is going to make sure this appointment is approved.  They’ve got the votes and that’s that.  

Trump’s base will be pleased with another conservative court appointment

There had been some evidence of some erosion of support for the President in the ever-critical evangelical base of the GOP.  A new conservative majority on the court, brought to you by Donald Trump, might help repair that.  Roe v. Wade isn’t likely to stand all that much longer and that’s music to the ears of President Trumps evangelical and conservative Catholic supporters. 

What does this mean to the Democrats?

Joe Biden has said the choice of a new justice should be left to the next President.  No surprise there.  Otherwise, he has been relatively quiet about the appointment.  President Trump, for his part, would like to shift the public’s attention to the appointment and a vigorous defense of his nominee.  The confirmation debates may be noisy, the Democratic base may demand that, but for the Democrats there is not much of a percentage in attacking a woman nominee who will be confirmed anyway.  This whole process may be quieter than expected.  Just as President Trump may experience a resurgence of support in his religious conservative base, the left wing of the Democratic Party, angry that the GOP pushed through this appointment, may be more motivated to vote for Biden than they had been before the appointment 

Looking at “close” red states

The Democratic strategy for the 2020 election has been all about holding the “blue wall” (the Great Lakes and Rust Belt States) and fighting over swing states like Florida and North Carolina.  Ohio and Iowa would help too.  However, there has been a bizarre plot twist.  Polls in ruby red states like Texas, especially Texas, but also, South Carolina and Georgia, show a closer race for the White House than anyone expected at this point.  Texas is tied in the polls and Georgia and South Carolina show some surprisingly strong Biden numbers. However, these prospects can be deceiving.  These are deep red GOP states.  Seeming targets of opportunity in strongly Republican states have shown up on the radar before only to fade away on election day.  Most of these states, at least not yet, don’t have enough Democratic infrastructure to find the votes needed to give Biden a win.  The Biden campaign has a plan.  My advice to the Democrats is to stick to it.  

Retro Moment:  Nixon’s promise to visit all 50 states

Dick Nixon.  You remember him.  The former President.  Nixon was on a national ticket more than any other person in American history.  He knew a thing or two about campaigning.   Or so you would have thought.  But in 1960 his strategic campaign sense suffered.  In that campaign, while John Kennedy was making regular campaign stops in his must win list of states and LBJ was roaming the rails across the South, poor Dick Nixon was in reliable GOP states, states he stood no hope of winning, and two states, so far away, that it involved two days each of valuable candidate time getting there and back– Alaska and Hawaii.  It was a broad, kindly, and flawed strategy.  Kennedy had a focused campaign strategy and stuck to it.  Richard Nixon wasted a lot of time in places he didn’t need to be.  By 1968, when he ran again and won, he didn’t make the same mistake twice. 

From Across the Pond – by our London Correspondent – Ross Duncan

From a British perspective, it is striking to observe what issues are not at the forefront of November’s election, essential as they are for American—and British—security and prosperity moving forward. 

The ballooning US federal deficit and debt, for example, is one of the primary threats to American power and security. Yet neither candidate seems to offer a realistic vision for how fiscal balance is to be restored. This state of affairs is of enormous concern for Britain because American military power, and the security that power guarantees, is ultimately underpinned by a strong fiscal position. This challenge ties in closely with the twin issues of American military over-stretch, and the pitiful lack of burden-sharing among its NATO allies (of which Britain is, regrettably, just as guilty.) Indeed, I see very little debate about how the United States is going to reconcile a deteriorating threat environment with increasingly pressured military budgets. 

In truth, America’s allies across the world, and Europe in particular, need to be forced to take primary responsibility for their security to ensure that America remains strong where she needs to be strong. It would be a welcome relief if the respective candidates truly grappled with this pressing challenge. 

One can always dream.