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Perhaps I’m getting jaded. I read today where there’s a plan to publish the daily morning scriptural meditations that Hillary Clinton reportedly received from her preacher, the Rev. Dr. Bill Shillady. My first thought was, “I guess she’s really planning on running again.” She barely uttered a word about religion in the 2016 race. Her campaign appeared to see the business community and the secular progressive party base, neither of which cotton to a lot of “God talk” as the key to victory in November, and campaigned that way.

Now, she may be seeing something different. Hillary may also be channeling Mitt Romney. In 2008, like Hillary, Romney ran for his party’s nomination and finished second. The second time around, he won the nomination (albeit with little party enthusiasm) and was defeated in the general election. Had he thrown his hat in late in 2016, the party establishment may well have welcomed him. And in a general election, he, like most Republicans, would have had a good chance against the polarizing Democratic nominee. Secretary Clinton may see a path like that opening up for her. Whoever wins the Democratic nomination in 2020 would have a very good chance against the incumbent were he to run for reelection. And Clinton may well think she’s got as good a shot as anyone in a contested primary next time.

For those who think it can’t happen, picture this – several Democrats (e.g. Senators Warren and Booker, Governors Cuomo and Patrick) all run to the left, trying to get that energetic movement progressive vote; that leaves an open lane for the one so-called centrist (really the one ambitious non-ideologue) in the race, especially if those progressive candidates – all of whom see a savior of the progressive cause in the mirror – refuse to drop out early. In short, she runs the Trump campaign on the Democratic side Trump was the least conservative (and for my money, least likable) candidate in the Republican nominating race. But the conservatives – all spoiling for a run against Hillary – failed to drop out, and split the base vote, allowing Trump to win.

This also appears to channel Bill Clinton’s comeback after losing the Arkansas governorship in 1980. Bill Clinton had been perceived as being more liberal (particularly by hiring some liberal out of state staff) than he had let on in the 1978 campaign. The Clintons called in Dick Morris, tacked to the center, and won the mansion back in 1982.

As much as many of us would like to see the Clintons move on to a dignified retirement, I just don’t believe either retirement or surrender is in their vocabulary. It’s a bit early to write Hillary’s political obituary. I admit it’s jaded, but I really have to wonder if this book of morning meditations is the first move in a long game for 2020. Maybe she’s sincere – maybe. With the Clintons, one often has to wonder.

-1TF

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For the past ten months following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, the Supreme Court has been at eight members. The Republicans refused to even hold a hearing for Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee. Now that the election is over, Garland’s nomination appears dead and the Republicans are eagerly awaiting President-elect Trump’s new choice for the ninth position. But Trump should actually consider making three nominations and calling for Congress to authorize and appropriate funding for eleven spots on the bench.

Mr. Trump should look at this action for three reasons.  First, it would give the Democrats something. Two of the nominations could be Republicans – one a red meat conservative pleasing the right, the other a moderate conservative. The third, could be an olive branch the Democrats – Merrick Garland himself. Republican opposition to Garland was never about Garland himself. He is a distinguished, moderately liberal, well-respected jurist that Senate Republicans had previously said they could support.

Second, it gives Trump something – the appearance as a powerful reformer not beholden to the way things have been done in the past. There would be predictable accusations of Czar Trump court-packing a la FDR, but that criticism is misplaced and could be handled, especially if one of the three nominees is Garland. First, FDR sought to add six justices, and it was clearly for ideological reasons. In this case, Trump would be looking to add just two, and if one was Garland, the ideological complaint falls apart. Instead of a 5-4 advantage, the justices would have a 6-5 advantage.

Third, it acknowledges and deals with the fact that this is an increasingly diverse country, and that for such a heterogeneous populace, nine members may not be enough. There are more than 300 million people in this country of all races, ethnicities, religious beliefs and ideological leanings. Yet look at our court. Racially, the court is six non-Hispanic whites, one Hispanic white, one black, no East Asians, no South Asians, no Arabs, no Slavs, etc. Religiously, it is five Catholics (three practicing/two cultural), and three Jews (two practicing/one cultural), no mainline Protestants, no evangelical Protestants, no Muslims, no Hindus, no open agnostics, deists or atheists (although there has been some indication there may be one or more quiet ones.) Educationally, four justices graduated Harvard Law School, three graduated Yale, one graduated Columbia, none graduated Stanford, Northwestern, Duke, Virginia or any of the other eight elite law schools, not to mention any of the other 300 law schools. There is a lack of diversity in life experience in the justices.

For these reasons – extending an olive branch to the Democrats, doing something clearly bold for his legacy and compensating for the increased diversity of the electorate – President-elect Trump should look at making three nominations to the Supreme Court.  Yes, some will justifiably express concern about increased cost, but that cost (a few offices, a handful of clerks, a tighter fit around the table, etc.) is modest and can be offset by cuts in less important parts of the government.  Few parts of the federal government are more important than the highest-level of its third branch.  Some will also, unjustifiably say this is unconstitutional.  However, tradition and statute, not the Constitution, have fixed the number of justices on the Supreme Court, and those can be changed more easily.  By giving both sides something and preparing the Court to serve an increasingly diverse and complex populace, President-elect Trump can make a bold step toward healing the political wounds opened by Justice Scalia’s untimely passing.

1TF

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It appears Iowa Democrats are thinking, “Say what you will about Bernie Sanders – at least he’s honest.”. The same cannot be said of the national front runner. I think this will matter next Tuesday – Iowa Democrats appear more concerned with both liberal ideology AND ‘good government’ than most. Honesty matters a bit more in Iowa than it does to Dems in some other quarters of the country (parts of the Northeast in particular).

At this point, it appears Sanders is going to win Iowa; the only question now is by how much. He is then likely to win his neighboring state of New Hampshire (which temporarily saved Secretary Clinton in 2008). Both of these results were highly unlikely six months ago. It’s not that Senator Sanders is that great a candidate. It’s that Secretary Clinton is notably weak and the problem isn’t something she can fix. It’s not organization; it’s not messaging. It’s her – her cozy relationship to Wall Street [which isn’t very popular in Middle America these days] her history of dissembling (which even allies attempt to minimize rather than defend), her obsessive secrecy and sense of victimhood, and the idea that the rules that apply to other people don’t apply to her and her husband. People left, right and center all have issues with her. It is remarkable – and remarkably sad – that no other significant establishment Democrat took her on in the primary.

In the book Game Change, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann relate Mrs. Clinton’s reaction to her upset loss in Iowa: “Maybe they just don’t like me.” I think she got it. And as the book relayed, the dislike was mutual. She doesn’t enjoy being there. She’s one of those dangerous bureaucrats – she likes policy a lot; people not so much. The dirty little secret is Sanders is actually somewhat similar that way. The one Democratic candidate who has actually run a state (albeit not well) and appears to actually be a people person, Governor O’Malley, can’t seem to get any traction. Unlike the GOP, the Democrats have a two-tier voting system in Iowa. Whom O’Malley’s people prefer between Sanders and Clinton will matter. It might be the difference between a solid Sanders win and a rout.

– 1TF

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