Hitch-ing the Supreme Court

The situation with the Supreme Court in the United States has caused no end of commentary, hand wringing, and gloating along different points of the political spectrum. It all reminded me of a Hitchens quote that boiled things down to the ugly little stone sitting at the bottom of the pot. But first, a bit of context.

The Republican party minted a new operating rule when Obama appointed Merrick Garland, and that rule was “no appointees will be considered in an election year.” The same party — and in fact the very same senators — have now crawfished on the policy because it is their candidate this time, and far closer to election date to boot. Whatever top spin may be put on this particular volley, there is an unassailable bottom line. This is double dealing and dishonesty of the first order. Rook the other guy on an excuse; toss the excuse and ram our guy through. They now maintain not even a pretense of hiding the plain power move: we will do this, simply because we can. It is an odd patriotism that advocates cheating fellow citizens, almost as though they were an enemy.

Trey Gowdy perfectly summarized the present Republican position:

If you don’t like who the Supreme Court nominees are, then win an election. You should have won in 2016… The reality is presidents are presidents for four years,” Gowdy explained. “You don’t have a sliding scale of diminished power the closer you get to someone else’s inauguration. … This is President Trump’s pick and he’s entitled to a vote.”

The notion of crisp four-year terms seems simple enough. But some other form of reasoning was being used in 2016 with Merrick Garland, when Obama was the president whose pick was likewise entitled to a vote. Functionally, the net-net amounts to an abrogation of constitutional process — either in Garland’s case or in the present. Based on argument from precedent, etc., you can choose which instance to excuse, but damnation must fall on one or the other. I suggest that Gowdy and other conservatives no longer operate from principles any more elevated than “might is right,” which I have been told only the godless and the heathen embrace. And the spectacle plays out in such brazen and unapologetic tones, one could almost describe it as… swampy.

And yet, Evangelicals, Catholics, and other Trump supporters appear to be OK with this. That is, they appear to be embracing the dirty dealing. Fill that seat. They take the Faustian bargain, trading the court appointment for principles of integrity, honesty, morality, and due process. Why? Chief motivations seem to be religiously-grounded issues, such as abortion, women’s rights, and LGBTQ rights.

The religious right is presently auctioning the very last bits of moral respectability they long postured as having. Many held their noses in 2016 and backed Trump for the win. They excused pussy grabbing, adultery, name calling, vitriol, hate, and corruption, and they did so for the win. They are presently backing the underhanded dealings about the Supreme Court, again for the win. There seems little (possibly nothing?) that isn’t tradeable for the win. Religious folks talk about Jesus — but what can square their idealistic aspirations with their base complicity?

Right wing voters do not principally want the Supreme Court appointments to attain new freedoms for themselves, but to curtail the ability of others to have abortions, marry same-sex partners, etc. They do not want morality, or principles, or a constitution that gets in the way of that. They do not really want heaven. They just want America.

Make America Great Again

The marquis slogan of Trumpism states a naked yearning for power and status and glory. That slogan has drawn evangelicals and other religious conservatives in their chanting hordes. It has kept them loyal too.

Hitchens boiled it down some time ago. And the religious right seems to be questing hard upon the project of proving him correct at all turns:

The level of intensity fluctuates according to time and place, but it can be stated as a truth that religion does not, and in the long run cannot, be content with its own marvelous claims and sublime assurances. It must seek to interfere with the lives of nonbelievers, or heretics, or adherents of other faiths. It may speak about the bliss of the next world, but it wants power in this one.

~ Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great

The auction house of Trumpism has now graduated beyond lies and adultery and corruption and incompetence and division. Republicans still loyal to the movement have, at this point, traded away their claims to morality and integrity. For conservatives who may be on the fence, you have a final opportunity in this cycle to revise where you stand; the rest of us will watch and remember. Current items on the docket now include freedom of the press, free elections, the peaceful transition of power, etc. In a nutshell, the “ask” now is mere authoritarianism. For the win.

Do we have any takers?


  1. “And the spectacle plays out in such brazen and unapologetic tones, one could almost describe it as… swampy.”

    I said from the very beginning of President Trump’s campaign, in which he famously coined the phrase, “Drain the swamp,” that he never intended to do anything of the sort. He only intended to fill it with the alligators of his choosing.

    I also said when Republicans refused to hold a vote on Merrick Garland because they shouldn’t in an election year that I was unaware that the president ceased to be the president until the end of their term. So, in that sense, yes, President Trump has every right to nominate a Supreme Court Justice. So did President Obama. Republicans set a precedent that they now wish to discard and aren’t even trying to hide that fact. The people in their party don’t care as long as they’re getting what they want. They forget that eventually the tide will turn. Hopefully this election cycle.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly. I go back to the basic notion of patriotism. What patriotism believes in double dealing your fellow citizens?

      People seem to have fallen into an enemy frame of mind. “Culture war,” and in war all things are permissible.

      But whatever that is, it’s not patriotism.


      • Oh, my goodness! It’s definitely war. I can’t even interact with people on social media because everything turns political.

        Once it turns political, then it’s, “You either vote red or you’re a godless, evil, heathen who hates America.” Even worse, you want to destroy America. People get bent so sideways there’s no bringing them back.

        Because I advocate social distancing and mask wearing, I’m some kind of fearmonger out to destroy the economy. Not only that, I’m a sheeple.

        I’m the sheeple?!? Smdh

        Liked by 2 people

        • It would be nice to cut the hardline that pipes their minds directly into FoxNews. The one that makes me chuckle is when they say that they think for themselves… Tucker pumps that line into their heads daily.

          Masks and social distancing are right up there with long division and Newton’s laws. Clearly propaganda from the left.

          As for me, I see danger in carrying banners for any group. But there is a tendency on both ends of the polar divide to assume that if someone isn’t in Group A, they must be in Group B. Sounds a lot like fundamentalism. *chuckle*

          I still listen to Sam Harris sometimes, and I think this is why he winds up in trouble. He doesn’t embrace the orthodoxy from either wing, so he gets hit from both sides. Non Trump conservatives get branded RINOs. Non BLM activists wind up being suspected or accused of racism or enabling.

          I just want the temperature and volume to come down, and for my fellow Americans to treat my other fellow Americans like fellow Americans again. 🙂

          Liked by 3 people

          • It’s all insanity. There are things I’m conservative about and things I’m liberal about. But like you say, no matter you’ll get painted with someone’s brush because the world is in black and white.

            I’ve stopped engaging altogether with most people about any of it. Like you, I just want people to be civil. I’ve been watching some youtube videos by a guy that goes by the handle Zdogg(he’s a doctor) that I’ve found very worthwhile. He’s very middle ground and has termed the middle the “alt-middle.” At any rate, he pointed out that as long as advertisers are the customers of media and the public is just the “user” we’re going to get all this divisive rhetoric forever. I hadn’t thought about it that way. I’ve tried to distance myself from the CNNs and Fox News because of implicit bias, not really understanding that the implicit bias isn’t necessarily geared toward a particular audience, but rather, their particular customers.

            It all feels very wag the dogish.

            Liked by 1 person

            • That’s is exactly right. I heard it said about social media and internet services in general: if you are not the paying customer, then someone else is, and what they are paying for is you. You’re the product that is being sold, your information, your eyeballs, your mind. This model really has to end for things to get better.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Christopher Hitchins was a genius. He was also relatively conservative, politically speaking. I would love to hear the words he’d have for Trump were he still alive. Sadly, they too would fall on deaf ears within Trump’s base.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. All too true. And yeah, I’d love it if Hitchens were still alive, calling down the thunder.


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