October 16, 2020

Scoring Your Confirmation Battles, Scully & Sasse

I'm working on an algorithm to determine how difficult a given confirmation battle will be. Kavanaugh's situation was basically a perfect storm while Amy Coney Barrett's a comparative romp in the park. 

So let's award points based on the political landscape. A score over 10 makes for a difficult journey while under 5 is a breeze. 

Are you male? Add 3 pts. Sexual harassment by a woman is much less believable, thus removing a tool from the progressive arsenal. 

Are the GOP votes lined up prior to start of confirmation? Subtract 2 points if so.  Barrett gets -2 while Kavanaugh had fence-sitters like Sen. Collins which encouraged desperate Democrat tactics. 

Are there Democrats on the Judiciary committee currently running for president? Add 3 points for each one. Kavanaugh adds 9 points while Barrett none.    

 Is there a Spartacus in the building?  Add 2 points. Both ACB and Kavanaugh add 2 points.   

So overall Kavanaugh scored 17 points while Barret sat at 0.Sen 


So Sen. Ben Sasse, talked about Trump in a (self-leaked?) phone call. His gripes, and he has a few, are perhaps numbingly familiar and unpersuasive to most non-liberal voters. You can say he's heroic in the Kasich mode for that, or politically tone-deaf.  Here is a breakdown of his complaints: 

1. "Trump mishandled the coronavirus." Well Trump was mediocre on it but I'm not sure a "C" grade represents "mishandling". The course of covid runs through individual actions, not government actions. The fault, dear America, lay not in the star (of the Apprentice), but in ourselves. For a conservative like Sasse to expect Big Daddy gov’t to "handle" a novel virus is Sad!

2. "Kisses dictators’ butts" Well, who cares? Does not kissing dictators’ butts change the behavior of dictators one iota? Does it bother Sasse so much that some foreigner the senator doesn’t like is getting his/her butt kissed? This is a primo example of a nothing burger. 

3. "Sells out our allies." I'd like a bit more specificity on this one. It's certainly possible but I'm hoping this doesn't simply mean "we're making our NATO partners pay their fair share". 

4.  "Spends like a drunken sailor". My understanding is that Congress is in charge of the budget. To the extent he signs expensive bills, so did Obama and G.W.Bush. Unlike Bush, Trump actually had a mandate to spend because the American people voted with the understanding he would not cut spending. See "the fault, dear Brutus..." above. 

5. "Mistreats women." Some women yes. Some men too. He's got character flaws no doubt. I understand my local garbage collector also mistreats women sometimes. Should we fire him? 

6. "Trash-talks evangelicals behind their backs." Who cares? He’s done more in actions for evangelicals than evangelical George W. Bush. Is this actually supposed to be persuasive? Everyone in Washington and in media trash-talks evangelicals.  

7. "Flirts with white supremacists."  He's also condemned them numerous times but is understandably annoyed liberals never get called out for flirting with black supremacists. 


Steve Scully I hardly knew ye! The ghost of Brian Lamb is quaking, only Lamb's not dead (bring back Lamb!).  

The mini-scandal is interesting on a number of levels. 

First, who knew that someone so placid and with such admirable self-control when taking crazy calls on C-Span (what a poker face!) was taking himself so seriously that he had to ask Anthony Scaramucci for advice? I mean there's the real scandal. 

Let's recall more about the sage of New York that Scully called upon. Scaramucci was let go by Trump two weeks into his term for attacking Reince Priebus, calling him a "paranoid schizophrenic" in a conversation with a reporter, and after also directing profanity-laced insults at Steve Bannon that are too spicy to post on a Catholic blog.  

Then Scully doubled-down, with the hackneyed lie, "I was hacked!". A very subtle hacking based on his timeline. 

The larger issue is that Trump is an unwitting revealer of character - just ask the many "journalists" who have been outed as frauds and hacks by him. You could call Trump a one-man honest-broker detector, a tester of character, like whether your house can stand up to really strong winds. In Catholic parlance, Trump is a near occasion of sin for reporters.

Reading the backstory, it appears that Trump got under Scully's skin by accusing him of not being objective which, ironically, led to Scully outing himself as not objective. But that's exactly the human condition. Our idols smash us. Mine do all the time. 

Biden's coming victory, despite the semi-hidden (by some media) corruption inherent in his fabulous wealth on a modest salary and his son's play-for-pay scheme that apparently required him to dole out some of the dough to "the Big Man", shows that it's more important to hide your flaws than that they be easily seen. He who hides them best, wins. I would argue that Trump's flaws are so transparent that he is less to be feared than the many ambitious pols who are more subtle. The devil's lies are subtle, not like the jester's lies. 

Ultimately the story goes: in 2015 and 2016, those conservatives wise in their own estimation were shamed by the simple, by the mass of Republican primary voters who gave their vote to Donald Trump. 

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