What Are American Conservatives Thinking?

I hope you don’t mind a brief digression from my monomaniacal focus on the climate conversation.

I’ve corresponded quite cordially with many skeptics on this website who (AFAICT) are Republicans by persuasion. I’ve had intelligent conversations with them and they certainly appear to be bright (maybe brighter than I am), well-informed, thoughtful people. I hope I don’t offend any of them by observing that they are not being well-served by their leadership at the moment.

Perhaps it’s the spotlight of the media that makes their current crop of leaders look deranged. But in all honesty, none of the Republican candidates for the presidency impress me at all. Which is fine by me, as I am a staunch Democrat fully intending to vote for either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, whoever is nominated by my party.

The last 24 hours provide buttressing evidence for my opinion. With the sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Republicans rushed out with statements almost designed to cost them dearly in the Presidential race. It left me wondering with the late Casey Stengel, ‘Can’t anybody here play this game?’

Update: Apologies to all. I slapped up the first picture of Justice Scalia that came to hand and didn’t realize it came with an insult attached. Here’s a more appropriate photograph:


Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio immediately opined that President Obama should not nominate a successor to Scalia, while Trump more realistically said that nobody could stop Obama from putting a name forward, but that Republicans should ‘Delay, delay, delay.’

This is a special kind of stupid. Do Republicans want the next election to have as a major issue the prospect of electing the swing vote on the Supreme Court alongside the President? Do they really want to galvanize the often sluggish Democratic vote and guarantee the turnout that will swamp the Republican ticket at more than a federal level? Do they want to focus the remainder of the Republican race on who each candidate would nominate to take Scalia’s place? Do they want Hilary and Bernie both to have that club handy to brandish in every speech they make?

I thought it almost impossible to lower my opinion of the current slate of Republican candidates. I was wrong.

If they had a lick of sense they would rush Obama to put forward as centrist a candidate as they can leverage–and they have a lot of leverage–to get this issue off the front pages as quickly as possible. Given the ages of the rest of the bench, the next president may nominate three Justices during his/her first term.

Stalling a replacement for Scalia just makes it more likely that Hillary Clinton will nominate four judges, not three.


45 responses to “What Are American Conservatives Thinking?

  1. Until yesterday, the SCOTUS leaned slightly to the Left:

    L: four liberal judicial activists, three of them VERY extreme

    R: three strict constructionists (a/k/a conservatives)

    M: two moderates: Roberts who leans strict constructionist, and Kennedy who leans liberal activist.

    The liberal activists needed only one of the two moderates to join them to achieve a 5-4 majority. The strict constructionists needed both of the two moderates to join them to achieve a 5-4 majority.

    But now there are only two reliable strict constructionists left. Even if both moderates join them, they can only achieve a 4-4 tie vote.

    If Scalia is replaced by a strict constructionist, then the balance of the Court will return to what it was before Scalia died: 4 on the Left, 3 on the Right, and 2 in the middle.

    But if Scalia is replaced by a liberal activist, like Obama’s previous appointments, then the Court will swing very sharply to the Left. There will be a five-person very liberal majority, and just two reliable strict constructionists.

    That would be a catastrophe for democracy, liberty, the rule of law, and it would end any hope of reigning in Obama’s out-of-control EPA.

    • I think a balance of points of view is a legitimate goal for staffing the position. But I think the best the Republicans could do is to push for a centrist now and hope the election swings in their favor later this year.

    • Kasich is a very good Republican candidate. Sanders is a terrible democratic candidate, and Hillary is tainted by her emails and her personality. I wouldn’t vote for either democrat. I like Rubio because he will handle the Cubazuela mess much better.

      Regarding the judge, Obama has turned to be such a radical he may to pander to his commie followers and nominate an activist. In such a case the candidate should be rejected.

      On balance, the USA has lousy government, and neither party is worth a glass of warm piss. But right now the best option is a republican if sanders is the democratic candidate. I doubt the GOP has the common sense to put Kasich on top.

      • Fernando is correct.

        Also, Kasich did not say that the Republicans should refuse to confirm a justice. He said that Obama should nominate a moderate and the Senate should be willing to confirm a qualified moderate. (I am, of course, paraphrasing and might be misinterpreting what I heard).

  2. The problem is that Ted Cruz has got the climate science right and understand the public corruption in “science”, Donald Trump understands that the US public are fed up with immigration and Islamic terrorism and Obama understood that a compassionate first world nation should have a decent health care system for everyone.

    What I’ve never understood is how people who are supposedly of the left – can support climate alarmism which overwhelming hits the poorer groups where fuel costs are disproportionately high and overwhelmingly its middle class public sector and business people who are making all the money from the scam.

    So, it really ought to be republicans who are obsesses with raising energy prices (paid for by the ordinary consumer) … in order to line the pockets of the muddle class and ultra rich. And the Democrats ought to be the ones defending lower-paid groups from evil green-business and high health costs.

    • Exactly my thoughts! The greens in Europe are “saving the earth” by hurting the poor. Why are they still popular by the electorate?

      • Hiya Hans, I’ve seen precious little sign that they are popular with the electorate. Look at the rise of the anti-immigrant far right parties in France, the UK, Denmark, Sweden and now even Germany.

      • What you see in the Netherlands is an increasing polarisation: the classic conservative and social-democrat parties are going down in the polls whereas the parties at both extremes gain in popularity. So both ecological and conservative-nationalist parties are growing in the polls.

      • thomaswfuller2 | February 14, 2016 at 2:50 am
        “Look at the rise of the anti-immigrant far right parties in France, the UK, Denmark, Sweden and now even Germany.”

        Why do you insult the parties that are against an influx of third world persons with zero conception of civilised behaviour who have turned Malmo into the rape capital of the developed world, who sexually assaulted and raped around 1,100 people in Cologne alone on New Year’s Eve, one of whom (a Somali in his twenties) lied about his age, claiming to be 15 and stabbed a young girl to death in a migrant hostel in Sweden as “far right”? Or the Iraqi in Germany who suffered a “sexual emergency” (his description) at a swimming pool, anally raped a ten year old boy and was entirely unable to comprehend that he had committed an atrocity? The boy wasn’t a Muslim, and was therefore fair game under Sharia law.

        Here is a list of (some) of the activities of the immigrants in Germany alone in January of this year:


        Do you believe it is somehow abhorrent to have very serious reservations concerning the onslaught of such unsuitable individuals into Western society with not the slightest mandate from the citizens of the affected nations and with zero preparation to deal with the negative aspects of this immigration?

      • Catweazle, how did I insult them? Far right is a description, isn’t it? Is it inaccurate? Jobbik, Pedigra, the National Front, are they not far right?

      • because they are not “far right” – which is hugely a loaded.. it is just a label to be flung, like islamophobia, or racist, intended to shut down any legitimate debate. at least that is how it is used in the EU/UK

        it is the same as when Dr Adam Corner did a smear job, on James Delingpole as being “far right” – old right, perhaps, but not FAR right..
        in the UK we’ve had muslim labour councillors, preventing muslim women from being councillors and the labour party kept quiet, (for votes) is it ‘far’ right to think not in my country!

      • @Barry Wood. The professional disinformer and cyber bully is back. He has the nerve to talk about someone else shutting down debate.
        Remember what Barry Goldwater told Richard Nixon. If you have so many enemies you need a list, you have too many enemies.

    • Tom,
      What is “far right” about wanting rational immigration policies?
      I would state that it is far more extreme to have a group of so-called leaders who refuse to enforce borders or to prioritize the protection of lawful residents and citizens against the interests of illegal or undocumented/poorly documented immigrants?

  3. “Stalling a replacement for Scalia just makes it more likely that Hillary Clinton will nominate four judges, not three.”

    Can she really do that from prison?

    Sorry, couldn’t help myself. Seriously, though, both of the Democratic candidates are terrible – one is pathologically dishonest and the other is a Marxist at heart. Both are highly likely to do enormous damage to the Republic. Your reflexive partisan support of either over the entire Republican field makes you a progressive drone, not someone who has seriously thought through all of this.

    The Republicans are mostly pretty bad too, but at least two (Cruz and Kasich) are likely to do less damage than either of the Democrats. To me, minimizing the damage is about the best one can hope for at this point (though there might something to be said for the Alinskite approach from either side). No one on either side is going to reverse the damage.

    As for leverage on judicial appointments, what kind of leverage do you think Republicans have, aside from a refusal to nominate? I’d guess that Obama will nominate another progressive drone as soon as possible precisely because he knows it would not be acceptable to conservatives. Progressives win either way – either they get to stack the court or they get a festering election issue.

    • I could probably live with Kasich, if it came to that. Not Cruz, though.

      I don’t get the fixation with Hillary–or her husband, for that matter. She’s a politician, not a pathological liar. She’s a pretty good one, too. The country would be in good hands with her. Bernie’s a bit out there, I admit.

      • Bill was a good politician, even though he was a terrible person with only a passing acquaintance with the concept of “truth”.

        Hillary is not even that – her only actual electoral victories have come in the incredibly safe senate seat in New York. She managed to tank the 2008 nomination even with her advantages, and in this cycle she is struggling against an elderly white male socialist even with the DNC and party establishment completely in the tank for her.

        There are all kinds of things I could say about her, but let’s just leave it at: I believe that the evidence shows she would be a terrible leader.

        I also don’t think I have any particular fixation here – but if you put her in the ring, I’m going to give my opinion. Claiming that I and others have a fixation is just avoiding any real discussion of her many faults.

        I will admit that I think the US would survive better with her than with Bernie: she’ll only enrich herself and her friends, but Bernie will impoverish everyone.

      • Hiya, Kch, I wasn’t thinking you were fixated–just a large chunk of the conservative world.

        She’s a survivor. Good trait to have in a politician.

      • tom, you assert. “She’s a politician, not a pathological liar.” One, most Americans since the time of Mark Twain would find your assertion an oxymoron in general. Most Americans today reject your assertion about Hillary in particular.

      • She’s a survivor. Good trait to have in a politician.

        I don’t think it’s all that clear that it’s a good trait for a plitician. Some political survivors:

        Richard Nixon
        Hugo Chávez
        Vladimir Putin
        Boss Tweed
        …. Other varied figures

        It depends on how self-centered and ruthless they are.

  4. “If they had a lick of sense they would rush Obama to put forward as centrist a candidate as they can leverage”

    Why would Obama play that game? He will put forward the most radical unpalatable candidate he can.

    But I think you fail to understand the Republican electorate. They are angry, very angry. They won majorities in the House and the Senate by electing candidates who promised conservative policies and have not delivered.

    If one understands this, Trump and Cruz make more sense.

    Calling for a centrist Supreme Court nominee does not fit the mood of the party. It would be instant death to any candidate who tried it.

    • AI, Trump isn’t a conservative at all. At all.

      And you forget how pragmatic Obama is. Let’s just see…

      • I totally agree about Trump but he still channels the anger of the people who elected conservative candidates. You do not have to be a conservative to vote for one. They are mostly blue dog democrats.

        In our area, if God ran for dogcatcher on a democratic ticket, people who voted democrat all their lives would pull the lever for the devil.

  5. Tom,
    Your misunderstanding of this is breath taking.
    And I find your photo insult of the late Justice Scalia to be inappropriate and insulting.
    I look forward to discussing climate with you in the future.

    • Hiya hunter

      I meant no disrespect to the late Justice Scalia–sorry if anyone was offended.

      What do you think I misunderstood?

      • I find the picture offensive, too, and grossly inaccurate. Scalia was always a voice for judicial restraint: interpreting the law the way those who wrote it intended for it to be interpreted. The speech balloon in that picture has him saying exactly the opposite of everything he said and did, throughout his career.

        To slander a man that way is bad enough. To do it while his body is still cooling is offensive.

      • “I meant no disrespect to the late Justice Scalia…”

        You must be kidding. You put up a false quote – one that completely misrepresents his positions and thinking – with the tag of “Asshole of the day” and you imagine it meant no disrespect? Pull the other one, Tom, it has bells on…

        This article, with extensive excerpts from one decision he wrote, might help to show you what Justice Scalia actually thought:


        The pull quote is “…we have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation.” Completely the opposite to what you put up.

    • Apologies to all. I didn’t see that tag. I will replace the picture as soon as I can. I have some connectivity issues at the moment.

  6. It belatedly occurred to me that I might be able to find a transcript of the debate. Here is what Kasich said:
    “…If you [Obama] were to nominate somebody, let’s have him pick somebody that is gonna have unanimous approval and such widespread approval across the country that this could happen without– a lotta recrimination.

    I don’t think that’s going to happen. And I would like the president to just, for once here, put the country first.”

    • So Governor Kasich and I are saying the same thing.

      MikeM, let’s see what happens.

      • Tom.

        Then maybe you agree with Bush also. From the same source as above:
        “there should be a consensus orientation on that nomination. And there’s no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama will not have a consensus pick when he submits that person to the Senate.”

        My impression was that all the candidates were assuming that Obama will nominate someone clearly on the left. As you say, we shall see.

  7. Not related to the US supreme court, as I I don’t have an opionion about US politics, it strikes me that in general the skeptic/alarmist delineation closely follows the labour/conservative boundary. In the UK political spectrum I am a pro-european pro-nuclear liberal democrat. The warming skeptic community in majority squares with euroskeptic UKIP.

  8. Conservative Americans are thinking many things. They are thinking that self professed progressives are once again showing a cruelty, ignorant, hateful face in their over the top inflammatory, reactionary glee over the death of a brilliant man who served with honor and distinction. Others are thinking that to give this President, who rules but does not lead, the opportunity to shape the Court by appointing one of his crony puppets is worth resisting with vigor. And other conservatives are thinking that they had best show the lefties who holds the real majority before faux progressives finish off this great country.

    • Hiya hunter, people on the other side of the fence say bad things. For 8 years I have watched a president I greatly admire described in a manner I find abhorrent, often in the comments section of my own weblog. I understand that people on the other side of the fence say bad things about the people I support.

      • Mr. Obama has not been called anything worse than his predecessor, and with far more reason. His thin skin is only matched by his inflated sense of self worth, but is well matched by his immature arrogance. He managed to make the mideast worse, racial hatreds at home inflamed, piss down on the rule of law, blow medical care reform, make our immigration situation much worse, and never even after nearly 8 years admit he might have made an error. And let’s not spending more time rehashing his irrational nonsensical climate policy, based on his poor parroting if sciencey sounding crap. So this brat of a President you are fortunate enough to be far from is most assuredly worth the effort to resist.

  9. Tom, I think that you should read and reread the responses to this column. Do you really want to cater to these people?
    I think that you should shut off comments for a while. They taint your message.

    • By all means, Marty. Let’s talk more about how you have proven plate tectonics doesn’t exist and how fracking is so dangerous…except no one can validate the claims.

    • So I’m “these people” to you am I Marty?

      Nobody forces you to read those responses Marty, you obnoxious, passive aggressive little person.

      If you don’t like them, you can always leave.

      Don’t let the door hit you in the butt on your way out.

      • I’ve been following Tom’s columns for 7 years. He once had a very diverse following. The diversity voted with its feet.
        If you hadn’t noticed, I’ve given up on commenting here. I was hoping the latest comments were so bad that they would make Tom rethink a few things.

      • Hiya, Marty–on that voting with their feet thingy, I don’t think it’s just my blog. I think the climate activists corresponded with each other and decided to boycott all us politically incorrect venues.

        It’s kinda obvious that they’re still reading this and other contrarian blogs. They just don’t want to engage with us any more.

    • Interesting point of view, Marty. See, I’d assumed that when Tom titled the post “What Are American Conservatives Thinking?”, he was expecting answers from American conservatives. I would imagine they could give the best answers to that question.

      Or were you perhaps looking for a Lewandowskiesque poll, in which conservative thinking is divined from only soliciting progressive opinions? (I do believe, though, that Tom is on record as opposing that approach.)

      • I do like hearing conservatives talk about politics. About other commenters, not so much.

        I note that a lot of U.S. national commentary has joined the Fuller bandwagon on this subject. (Or maybe I’m just first out of the gate with the conventional wisdom…)

        I read one writer this morning who said that Obama should offer a slate of candidates to the Senate and ask them to advise and consent on the best of the lot. Might be a good move.

      • I think the Honorable Chuck Schumer (D NY) put it best in 2007:
        Don’t allow a sitting President to nominate a new USSC Justice unless it is an emergency.

      • Marty has the courage of his snark, but not of his convictions.

  10. After studying the history of Supreme Court nominees and the nomination process, American Conservatives are thinking nothing different than American liberals when it comes to Supreme Court nominees. Majority Leaders Reid and Schumer both agree that a President should not fill a USSC vacancy during the immediate period prior to an election.
    So the question is really, “Why do progressives/liberals only want things their way?”

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