It is fairly amusing to hear pundits opining about the Republican Presidential primary as if it was still an active race. More accurate, I should think, to move that contest into the closed case file and move on to other pressing concerns of the day. Indeed it was President Obama of Cuba (temporarily on loan to the United States) who gave Donald J. Trump all the ammunition — you should forgive the expression — he needs to lock it in, wrap it up, put it away, put it to bed, put it in his pocket, and tie a ribbon on it.
The trump card Barack gave Donald was his nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.
Obama hoped to embarrass Mitch McConnell with this nomination, but in fact he has enabled Trump to finish weaving the garland for his presidential nomination. All Donald has to do now is announce he is appointing to the Supreme Court none other than Frank Easterbrook.
Now Frank Easterbrook is a good judge of the United States Court of Appeals over on the Seventh Circuit. In fact he was Chief Judge from 2006 to 2013. But that is not the reason for his appeal or why he would help Donald court voters. The reason why he gives Mister Trump the game, the set, the match, and the inauguration is simple: he is the designated successor of Justice Antonin Scalia.
In 2012 Justice Scalia was asked by C-Span who he would see as an ideal successor, and he named Frank Easterbrook. So do the math, or the chess, or the Machiavellian politics. Any way you look at it, the move is obvious.
Think about it. Tomorrow Donald J. Trump announces at a press conference that it is only right to have Frank Easterbrook succeed Scalia, to fulfill the will of the late Justice. This accomplishes a series of objectives, putting his thumb (finger size notwithstanding) on the scales, or Scalia, of Justice.
#1, Obama’s nominee would have a direct counterpart, so it becomes a defined contest, Garland vs. Easterbrook.
#2, Trump shows his exact selection, burnishing his credentials so conservatives cannot doubt his instincts.
#3, The nominee does not need to be defended on merit; he comes pre-anointed by Scalia himself.
#4, Trump’s choice can only be attacked by assailing Scalia; he himself is bulletproof. “How dare you nasty naysayers sully the memory of the very man whose legacy we seek to immortalize?”
#5, Republicans in the Senate will have a rallying point to help them find the spine to resist Obama.
#6, Those same Senators will find it harder to slam Trump as someone too undisciplined to work with.
#7, Trump will have a better shot against Hillary when it is clear that a vote for Trump is a vote for Scalia II.
#8, Obama himself will lose credibility for fighting against Scalia’s handpicked successor, a graduate of University of Chicago Law School.
#9, This one-ups Cruz by being decent enough, and deferential enough, to reckon Scalia’s own judgment as the paramount value in this equation.
Easterbrook himself will have to play it coy, since Trump is not yet empowered to place his name in nomination for any post. But if he is as smart as his peers suggest, he will not generate a quote precluding acceptance of such an offer in the event of a Trump victory.
As for Obama, he will have little time and energy to resist. He is too busy propping up the Castro brothers, framing our disagreement with Cuba as a little he-said-Che-said spat, taking two days off to tango, and papering over brouhahas with Rouhani. His is a peaceful world undisturbed by fear of immigrant “widows and orphans.” As he helpfully observed in 2013, you are much more likely to be hit by a car than by terrorists. Let him retire to his actuarial solution while we seek actual solutions elsewhere.
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