Hillary Clinton On Scotus? Bet On It…Not Happening
There’s a buzz in the air – and on the Internet – today about Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-Utah) bombshell that Hillary Clinton is a possible Supreme Court nominee. Speaking on NBC’s “Today” show, Sen. Hatch declared that he “heard [Clinton’s] name today and that would be an interesting person in the mix.” Predictably, commentators on both sides of the ideological divide are aflutter with speculation. Lefties are counting confirmation votes and gleefully anticipating heads exploding on the Right, while their conservative counterparts, like Kevin Glass on TownHall.com, are lamenting the very concept of a “Justice Clinton.”
And all of it is straight out of the Republican handbook on tactical verbal warfare.
If there’s one thing at which the GOP excels (well, besides hypocrisy, philandering, and narcissism), it’s message control. Save for one unfortunate incident involving a certain blogger (okay, me) at a tea party a year ago, our rightward-leaning pals have been remarkably consistent in crafting and protecting their messages: hate Obama, hate health care reform, hate … well, just hate. And for nearly 20 years, the ultimate target of their hate has been nearly anyone named Clinton. Even the late Socks the Cat didn’t escape the wrath of wingnuts.
So it should come as no surprise that a Republican would invoke the one name that gets right-wing extremists foaming at the mouth more than any other to stoke the fires of rhetorical – and actual – resistance to President Obama’s eventual SCOTUS pick. For the GOP, “message control” often means “dog-whistling” – bringing forth a name or idea subtly, without any basis in fact or reality, in order to inflame the passions of their True Believers. And whether you support or oppose a potential Hillary Clinton nomination, you really need to see it as just what it is: another GOP dog whistle.
First, from a practical standpoint, Hillary Clinton would stand almost no chance of confirmation. Even ignoring her controversial status in the eyes of Republicans and, frankly, many Democrats, and even recognizing that prior bench experience is not a prerequisite for nomination to SCOTUS, the plain fact is that nominees, particularly in recent years, generally have some experience as a judge prior to joining the High Court. The last Justice appointed without such prior experience was William H. Rehnquist, who took office as an Associate Justice in 1972. More importantly, though, Clinton has garnered widespread praise and respect for her work as secretary of state, and it seems unlikely that the president would remove her from that post for what undoubtedly would be a rancorous and potentially destructive Supreme Court confirmation process.
The best evidence, though, for the premise that Hatch was blowing smoke when he raised the spectre of “Justice Clinton” is the senator’s own words. Really, Sen. Hatch, you just heard Secretary Clinton’s name mentioned “today,” meaning sometime before your early-morning interview on NBC? And why won’t you tell America who proposed her name, or where you heard it?
In short, it’s another classic “some say,” in the fine tradition of “some say Obama is like Hitler” or “some say liberals eat babies.” It sounds authoritative, it’s easily verifiable (if one person says it, then “some say” is true), and the uninformed, uninterested wingnuts lap it up. But don’t believe it for a second. We on the Left may not be able to hear the dog whistle, but we don’t have to jump when it blows, either.Click here for reuse options!
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