Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
The U.S. Senate needs to recognize that there must be a better way to evaluate whether someone should be entrusted with the highest legal office in the land than by passing muster in an ugly, three-ring circus. Since the Senate rejected Robert Bork in 1987, confirmation hearings for nominees– for a job which they could well hold for more than 40 years—has become pitiful. The failure even to consider Merrick Garland and then to withhold thousands of documents from Kavanaugh’s record have made the entire process ludicrous; regardless of either individual’s qualifications. It seems the Senate must change its rules to require a 2/3 vote on Supreme Court nominations, if not on all federal court nominees.
The anonymous New York Times op-ed piece has not elicited responses from any foreign government but that is not because they have no response. In all likelihood, they are largely either not surprised or totally unable to comprehend who is running the national security/foreign policy store in Washington. While Americans may be shocked at the condition of decision-making in the White House, foreign governments—friends and foes—must be growing ever more disturbed as they learned from Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book and the New York Times, how troubling is President Trump’s behavior. These foreign governments need only wait a few weeks to see first-hand when the President moves into the chair as the U.S. assumes the position of presiding officer of the Security Council for the month of September.
It is truly bizarre that the President now has asked the Justice Department to investigate who was the Trump high-level insider responsible for writing the anonymous op-ed piece which appeared in the New York Times. It would seem reasonable to ask the writer not to hide in the bushes but to come forward and make the charges in public. It is totally absurd, however, for the President to ask the Jeff Sessions to investigate who wrote the piece as if an actual crime has been committed. Once again, the President does not understand or respect the fact that America is a nation of laws.
Former Presidents do not usually go out on the stump, especially in the mid-term elections immediately following their leaving office. With his appearance today at the University of Illinois and his announced schedule of forthcoming engagements, Barack Obama is rejecting that tradition and maintaining the mantle of titular head of the Democratic Party. He clearly intends to execute this role until there is a Democratic presidential nominee in 2020. Obama is determined to rouse his own base in the same way that Trump focuses on galvanizing his own troops. Obama recognizes that for the Democratic Party indeed to effect a blue wave in November, voter turnout especially among many key Obama supporters—Blacks, Latinos, young people, and women—will be critical.