Even a broken clock is right twice a day and no clock is more broken than David Brock. But Brock, who’s spent the last four months trying to elbow his way out of Hillary Clinton’s shadow and show real independence, tweeted out what may be the Democrats’ best way of undercutting Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination.
Brock wasn’t the first person to come up with this idea, which started circulating last night.
This is exactly what Republicans would do in this situation. It is slick and somewhat evil and totally political and partisan, and it would be effective because delegitimizing Trump has been the Democrats’ best play since November. It not only keeps him unpopular and ineffective, but also enrages Trump, causing him to tweet dumb, loud stuff, which makes him even more unpopular and ineffective.
This is essentially the same tactic that Republicans used when blocking Merrick Garland. They wed a Supreme Court nominee to a larger national storyline, and insisted that this is what’s right and proper. In Gorsuch’s case, however, Democrats wouldn’t have to twist themselves into a pretzel the way that Republicans did—i.e., the so-called Biden rule, a fictitious precedent that Congress cannot confirm Supreme Court nominees in an election year. They could simply make the case that this is an unprecedented situation and that Gorsuch’s confirmation should wait until it is resolved.
So why aren’t Democats doing this? Partly because, institutionally speaking, they lack the GOP’s willingness to hijack procedures. Republicans may have politicized the Supreme Court nomination system in 2016, but Democrats seem unwilling to adopt their nuclear methods.
But it could also backfire: It would put pressure on the FBI to hurry its investigation along—something Republicans very much want, Democrats not at all. They have to find a Goldilocks zone where they can use the FBI investigation as a wedge, but not create a situation where investigations in Congress and the FBI are hurried.
Still, it’s notable that this hasn’t even been floated by a Democratic senator. If Hillary Clinton were president right now we’d be in week three of impeachment hearings. Gorsuch has thus far done a decent job of seeming independent from Donald Trump. Democrats need to switch up the playbook to tie the two together.