Last week, Rick Perry and Jeb Bush both pointed to most important issue of the most important election of your lifetime.
In what Think Progress‘ Ian Millhiser called the “Single Most Incisive Statement About the 2016 election,” Rick Perry — as a representative of the conservative ID — put it bluntly:
“Something I want you all to think about is that the next president of the United States, whoever that individual may be, could choose up to three, maybe even four members of the Supreme Court,” Perry told the South Carolina audience. So this election “isn’t about who’s going to be the president of the United States for just the next four years. This could be about individuals who have an impact on you, your children, and even our grandchildren. That’s the weight of what this election is really about.”
This usually goes without saying because almost anyone paying attention to a presidential election that’s more than a year a way already knows it. To review: In the next president’s first term, four Justices — Scalia, Kennedy, Breyer and Ginsburg — will exceed the average retirement age for recent justices then cruise by the respective life expectancies for their gender soon after. The retirement of three of the four except Scalia will mean the end of Roe v. Wade, the decision that provides basic reproductive rights in all 50 states.
Republican politicians who want to win elections outside of bright red states rarely bring this issue up directly. And they never do it in such a labored way that suggests the candidate is repeating something that had to be explained to him several times before he got it.
He’s the “I think I’ll go upstairs and masturbate” candidate.
Why don’t Republicans talk this bluntly about conservative movement’s greatest aspiration — an unbreakable Supreme Court majority?
Though a majority of Americans support Roe, it isn’t terribly popular. Overturning it, however, is terribly unpopular. Only 3 out of 10 Americans favor that, just bit more than the 2 out of 10 Americans who support banning abortion even in cases of rape and incest, the official position of the Republican party.
Rick Perry can say such things because he only has a presidential campaign the way men with “man caves” still have their childhoods. Jeb Bush — a representative of the conservative superego — still thinks he can win, and he may be right.
This is where I remind you that the Bushes, who’ve played a role in every winning GOP ticket since 1980, are much better at politics than their fellow Republicans. They’re dirtier — see: Willie Horton, John McCain’s black child, and the swiftboating of John Kerry. And they’re better at blurring important differences, which is what is behind Jeb’s recent insane comments on Iraq and his complete capitulation to the Obama/Clinton position on immigration.
This weekend in a speech at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty “University,” Jeb made the exact same point Rick Perry did. But in the sheep’s clothing Republicans have decided to wear to make this argument in way that invigorates the 29 percent who hate Roe without alienating the 53 percent who want to keep it.
He mentions federal courts and cases that went to the nation’s highest court. But he never uses the words “Supreme Court.” He doesn’t have to. (And probably shouldn’t given that he’s the guy who helped purge thousands of minority voters from Florida’s voting rolls in an election that saw the conservative majority of the Court deliver the presidency to his brother.)
Instead, as Paul Waldman explains in The Washington Post, he plays on the notion of “Christian victimhood.”
The right has embraced the idea the state should honor “objections of conscience” in the name of “religious liberty” — Conservative for forcing others to practice your religion. This will allow them to carve out exceptions to the law in the face of marriage equality and the government mandating coverage of birth control.
Implicit in Bush’s arguments is the promise that these and worse problems can be reversed or avoided — with the right guy making Supreme Court appointments.
One of the main reasons George W. is still much more popular with Conservatives than Jeb — even though Jeb is further to the right on reproductive rights — is that W. proved himself with two of the most extreme Court appointments in recent memory — John Roberts and Samuel Alito. His heresy on Obamacare aside, Roberts has ushered huge advancement for the right wing project of government by corporation. And his anti-reproductive rights credentials are impeccable.
Too bad Rick Perry won’t be around the 2016 election for very long. It’s nice to hear what conservatives are actually thinking.
[Image by Gage Skidmore | Flickr]