The Media’s Merrick Garland Kabuki Dance

The faux nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court is another remarkable example of how the mainstream media carries the water of the Democrat Party and the left under the guise of “reporting news.” In this, the major news networks and papers now are essentially working hand-in-glove with the Obama administration in a strange kabuki dance of commentary and reportage over Garland’s nomination, for no other reason than to pressure and embarrass Republicans, without a whit of consideration for the nominee’s actual political sympathies, or the improbability that he will ever sit on the Court. 

Leading the way is the Washington Post, the capital’s hometown paper, fairly guaranteed to reach the offices of vulnerable Republican senators, running an above-the-fold non-story in Saturday’s edition with the shocking news that Garland’s dissents in cases are boring and restrained. What a non-story. In the first instance it is about dissents, which carry no actual legal weight. In the second, it is about how uninteresting Garland’s dissents are, which gives us no reason to pay attention to these bits of legal dicta in the first place, as opposed to those of a particularly brilliant and clever Justice like Antonin Scalia. Follow that up with a Post article on Sunday about the improbable scenarios in which Garland will be appointed no matter what the Republicans now say, and a man with almost no chance of reaching the Supreme Court becomes a sure thing. 

The idea behind stories like this is to demonstrate just how “moderate” and inevitable Garland is, and so how unobjectionable he should be to any reasonable Republican senator not bearing an ideological cudgel intent on knocking the poor man down, or ruining his or her own political prospects. But this is mere whitewash. In the Post’s story about Garland’s dissents a reader has to penetrate on to page A7 and paragraph ten before we learn that in almost all of them he is critical of conservative majorities and “…affirm his position on the Court’s left…” And the idea that voters actually care about this issue is right now a liberal talking point, rather than a demonstrable fact, as these CNN articles demonstrate.

In this case, the left’s deep fascination with race and identity reveals itself. The fact that Garland is an older white male is really what the left and the mainstream media find “moderate” about him, a fact made plain by the reaction of the less mainstream leftist press which (because almost nobody pays attention anymore) can rail that the nominee is not black, or female, or Latino, or gay, or transgender, or obese, or hirsutetiretically challenged, or whatever. The Nation calls Garland “safe.” Vox calls him a “great deal” for Republicans. What does that mean? That Garland won’t mug his fellow justices in the cloak room? The constant refrain we hear -- even now and again on FOX -- is that Republicans ought to bite the bullet on Garland, because if they don’t, Hillary Clinton will appoint somebody worse. But what exactly would worse be? 

Another part of this identity kabuki is that Garland is of Jewish ancestry. Making Garland a throwaway pick allows Obama to throw a bone to his befuddled Jewish supporters at the same time he continues to trash the world’s most consequential Jewish leader, Benjamin Netanyahu. There are already successful, well-to-do, middle-aged Jews on the Court, and adding one more interests nobody except some Jews and some anti-Semites, both of which nowadays are mostly on the left. It’s part of the same weird dynamic that allows the successful, balding, loud-mouthed middle-aged Jewish liberal comedian Larry David to lampoon his virtual double -- Bernie Sanders -- without any political meaning or consequence.

Garland would vote in a reliably leftist fashion on almost every issue important to conservatives that may come up before the Court. The same would be true of a Clinton nominee of a different gender or hue. It’s not like the Court’s first black female justice (which is really what the left wanted) will get to cast two votes to everyone else’s one. Saying Garland is a moderate, essentially because he is a white middle-aged male, is really nothing but thinly veiled bigotry, because it implies that a black female -- or other preferable minority -- would not be, simply because of who they are. After all, any potential Supreme Court justice is supposed to be moderate, as is any judge. Otherwise, why even have judges?

For conservatives words like “moderate” should mean as little as the color of the nominee’s skin. The only thing that matters about Garland is how he will vote on critical issues relating to the law and Constitution, in particular with respect to 1st and 2nd Amendment rights, property rights, abortion, and immigration. On all these issues, Garland will assuredly tilt the Court to the left. 

Picking Garland is a typically cynical Obama gambit. The man who pontificated about changing the culture of Washington has done so but only in the sense of debasing it further, and pushing partisan politics to its limits. Garland will end up on the trash heap of Obama’s cutthroat political chicanery, the same as his early unlamented opponents in Chicago, or his would-be successor Hillary Clinton, or many innocents, including the Benghazi dead. The Garland pick is nothing more than a political ploy, and one that wouldn’t work without the active connivance of the media. It is a shame to the republic that at the drop of a hat, or in this case a phony nomination, that this president can count on that.