Last weekend was going to be a big weekend for the Democrats and the news media. The death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 200,000, and it was essential to highlight because it would be a demonstration of leadership under Donald Trump.
That does not suggest the media and Democrats were cheering for a death toll. It was going to happen anyway. Why not capitalize on it?
While that seems vulgar to the layman, it is politics. Millions upon millions of dollars are put into winning elections, and political operatives, who in this case include many of our media outlets, have to adapt to the circumstances.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has done that. During a televised CNN town hall, Biden suggested 100,000 lives may have been saved if someone else who was willing to tout the virtues of masks were president.
“What presidents say matters, people, listen. I will make it clear what is needed to be done,” he said. “I cannot mandate people wearing masks, but we’ve just been told we should expect another 215,000 dead by January. But if we wore a mask, we’d save 100,000 of those lives. Doing nothing but that.”
Biden’s tactic would be to tell local government officials to require masks.
“We have to make sure we lay out to the American people the truth,” Biden continued. “Tell them the truth … And I would make sure that I would call every governor in the country into the White House to say you should be putting mandates out … And if they don’t, I’d call the mayors in their towns and their cities and say put out mandates. You can save lives.”
Whether you like it or not, coronavirus is a political issue. In the game of presidential politics, you play to win.
Democrats (and by extension, the media) went all-in on COVID-19. Then the unexpected happened: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed.
After the appropriate statements mourning Ginsburg’s passing and applauding her career, the discussion turned to Ginsburg’s replacement. In fact, for some, it was done without acknowledging Ginsburg’s death at all.
Now we have a Supreme Court vacancy political fight on our hands.
For some Republicans, this could not have come at a worse time. For Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who is thought to be among the four or five most vulnerable Republican incumbents, this probably would have been better a few months from now. The same goes for Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.
For Donald Trump and the Republican Party as a whole, this is a gift.
If you were Trump, what would you rather have dominate the front-page headlines: COVID-19 or the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court?
Coronavirus is probably a losing issue for Trump. A Supreme Court vacancy is a draw.
The problem for Democrats is the entire playbook was written in a pandemic world. The playbook can change, but it will be challenging to go on offense against Trump and have enough oxygen left in the tank for a battle that would take place on the U.S. Senate floor.
Back in 2018, prospects were supposed to be bleak for the GOP. Trump had just been elected. We were told he was unpopular. There was also a Mueller probe underway.
Add to that, historically, the party in power does not fare well in post-presidential election midterms.
Then the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings took place. And it was a circus. Not only did you have the usual shenanigans of the Beltway press, but Michael Avenatti (remember that guy?) was in on it, too.
Democrats overplayed it in their assault on Kavanaugh. Instead of winning over women voters, mothers saw the way Kavanaugh’s confirmation went down and thought, “What if that were my son?”
The result: Republicans picked up two U.S. Senate seats in what should have been a no-brainer year for Democrats. Sure, the GOP lost the House, but if Trump were the worst president in American history, shouldn’t then-incumbent U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., have won re-election?
On the one hand, Democrats recognize the value of this Supreme Court vacancy. The country could change forever if a bona fide conservative replaces the court’s hard-left justice.
Fight, they must.
If they overdo it, then it is Kavanaugh 2.0 — except this time, it is not just underachieving in a midterm election. Perhaps it is the re-election of President Donald Trump.
In 2016, reluctant Republicans went for Trump because of judicial appointments. “Well, you may not like him, but do you want Hillary Clinton picking the next Supreme Court justice? You better vote Trump!”
This Supreme Court fight will serve as a reminder.
Meanwhile, Democrats are stuck with a game plan that leaned heavily on COVID-19, and without much time to pivot and regroup.
It seems like they should have thought about the possibility of the Supreme Court vacancy battle already.
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