It’s going down, and Mitch McConnell, US Senate majority leader but not for long, knows it. He wants conservative judge Amy Barrett placed on the US Supreme Court before Donald Trump’s Titanic finally sinks.
Just three weeks before the US presidential election, Joe Biden leads Donald Trump by double-digits in national polls. But those macro-polls can be deceptive. Hillary Clinton too led Trump by a wide margin in 2016 and neglected to campaign in the liberal states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Biden is taking no chances this time round. He leads in all three states. Florida has always been a swing state, and it’s a neck and neck race out there. Surprisingly, in the conservative state of Texas, Trump leads by just one point.
Yet, Trump cannot be counted out. He has risen like a phoenix from his recent bout with Covid. Power is the ultimate therapy, or should we say the slippage of power is? Nearly 250,000 Americans (taking into account underreporting) have died from Covid. Assume that each had four immediate family-members, that means about a million Americans are in deep mourning today.
But Trump is not commiserating with any of them. He does not seem to be contrite for the foolhardy manner in which he caught the illness. His rallies go on as before. Thousands jam-packed wearing few, if any, masks. Trump got treatment that is not available to the general public, and is not expected to be so for months altogether.
If a layman catches Covid at his rallies, he could be a goner. Trump doesn’t care. What is worse, the layman doesn’t care either. He’s just following the machismo and the false bravado of his leader.
Joe Biden addresses very small gatherings. Everyone is adequately socially distant from one another and everyone wears a mask. The country seems to see in Biden a responsible leader. Let’s see how they vote.
Senate races in traditionally conservative states like South Carolina and Mississippi have become very close. Republicans enjoy a small advantage in the Senate today. Mitch McConnell is afraid that he’s going to lose his Senate majority. The Senate has to confirm the new Supreme Court justice.
The Court has nine judges. With Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent death, it now has eight. There are four decidedly conservative justices, and three firmly liberal. Chief Justice Roberts was supposed to have been an outandout conservative, but has behaved liberally at times.
With Amy Barrett on the Court, it will become conservative to liberal 54, and if Roberts were to lean right, then 6-3. On Barrett’s agenda are three pressing issues.
One comes up on November 10, one week after the presidential election, and that is what to do with Obamacare. She is sure to send that packing.
Trump has already said that he will contest the results of the election were he to lose. If it’s a sweep for Biden, he may have no choice but to accept the result gracefully, but if it is a close defeat for him, the matter could end up in the Supreme Court. He has already said that with Barrett in there, he has a slight advantage.
The Supreme Court decided the US presidential election in favour of the Republican presidential candidate, George W. Bush, in 2000, an election many Democrats believed that their candidate, Al Gore, had won. The Democrats are in no mood to let the Supreme Court “steal” another election from them.
And then there is the issue closest to the hearts of the Democrats, the continuation of abortion rights. Amy Barrett is sure to ban abortion, in some form or the other.
The one question that Biden, and even his running mate Kamala Harris, avoid like the plague is the one on packing the Supreme Court, that is, adding at least two additional justices to it. Biden was against court packing in the past, but now that the Supreme Court will firmly tilt right with Barrett in there, he is being evasive about the issue. Let there be no doubt, he will pack the Court.
The Republican Titanic is sinking, and Donald Trump sometimes seems unaware and at other times desperate. He seems not one bit chastised by his own bout with the virus. He could go down as Nero did, fiddling while his empire burnt to the ground.
The writer is an expert on energy and contributes regularly to publications in India and overseas