CSotD: Courting Disaster

Alan Moir boils down America’s political situation to the essentials: Trump racing for the election and the chance of a self-pardon, pursued by the Keystone Kops.

There’s a lot to be argued with here. I’ve said in the past that I wanted the prosecution to move carefully, not to blow the case with hasty moves. And I’m not sure it’s fair to call the prosecutors incompetent, which the Keystone Kops comparison does.

But I certainly didn’t mean drag it out into the next administration, and to the extent that the State has left itself open to having President Trump limit their case, well, there is a slapstick element to things.

Others have pointed out that a self-pardon might not hold up, but, then again, it might. However, others have pointed out that it might not have to, if the president just tells his attorney general to drop the charges.

All of which depends, please note, on Trump being president in 2025. That’s the crucial point.

Adam Zyglis contends that yesterday’s decision, keeping Colorado (and thus Illinois and Maine) from removing Trump from the ballot had destroyed one of the forces helping fend off a dictatorship. Certainly, had they upheld Colorado’s ruling, it would have all but ended Trump’s threat, given how close the final count is likely to be.

On the other hand, relying on the courts is a dubious defense, in part because of our current SCOTUS lineup and in part because it would be anyway.

The two things are intertwined: Elections should be decided by voters, not judges, and given what we’ve seen in gun cases, in Gore v Bush and in the overturning of Roe v Wade, there’s little sense in relying on this particular Court doing what the voters won’t.

And, by the way, it’s also important that we look to wider implications of their pronouncement that Congress would have to pass a specific law to put that part of the 14th Amendment into action.

Would they also feel that way about contraception, same-sex marriage and other 14th Amendment rights?

Because those issues seem certain to come before the Court, if Clarence Thomas follows through on what he said in overturning Rowe:

Clay Jones accuses the entire right end of the Supreme Court of wanting to actively slow down Jack Smith’s prosecution, and it’s a reasonable accusation, though I’d note that Coney Barrett joined the liberals in saying the Court went too far yesterday.

It’s an open question whether the conservatives are intentionally helping Trump or just reasoning along the lines that had made them attractive to the Federalist Society and Mitch McConnell in the first place.

That may be a distinction without a difference, of course: Their motivations don’t matter nearly so much as their actions.

But Jones properly highlights Clarence Thomas’s role, because there is no rational way to justify his failure to recuse himself from a case in which his wife is an active partisan participant. It might not have changed the outcome of this particular case, which would have been an 8-0 decision to leave Trump on the ballot rather than a 9-0 decision.

Still, it stinks. Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion and so, too, must Clarence’s.

As it is, the inability of SCOTUS to exercise common discretion in a conflict of interest so obvious gives cartoonists like Mike Luckovich an open invitation to make suggestions like this.

With Trump getting his butt kicked in state courts, the contrast with his reception at the Supreme Court smells, and, again, the intentions of the justices are secondary to the impact of their behavior. Allowing Thomas to sit in on these cases is damning, and cannot be dismissed as a difference in ethical viewpoints.

That’s aside from remembering the African-American justice whom Thomas was chosen to replace, or the female justice whose place Coney Barrett was picked to fill, in both cases by a political party that screams in agony over racial and gender tokenism.

Note, by the way, that Arizona lawmakers quashed a proposal to put a statue of Sandra Day O’Connor in the Capitol in Washington, calling her “undistinguished” and “the worst thing that happened to the federal bench.”

You sure you want to give states the right to kick presidential candidates off their ballots?

Andy Marlette (Creators) may be closer to the truth, both in analyzing the legality of letting states make that decision but also in the challenge of getting voters to make choices that ward off dictatorship and help preserve democracy.

Nick Anderson points out that yesterday’s decision left matters up to voters, but that the Court did not absolve Trump of having been part of the insurrection.

This leaves a number of political cartoonists in the position of seeking ways to illustrate policy proposals rather than simply making silly jokes about orange make-up or a love of ice cream.

The moral issue in that being that cartooning doesn’t pay what it once did, and editors love silly cartoons about make-up and ice cream.

It can leave cartoonists with a choice between making a statement and making a living.

The game isn’t over yet, and it would be surprising if the Court ruled 9-0 that Presidents are above the law.

As Walt Handelsman suggests, Trump might want to move forward with his campaign and not assume SCOTUS will be as generous with his other problems as they were with this one.

And then there’s this:

Sure wish Tank McNamara (AMS) hadn’t said this on the day Jason Kelce announced his retirement. That’s a coincidence, of course, but Kelce is one of several top-rated players who have left the game before they became old and beat-up.

One hopes.

I love the game, but while the NFL has made many rule and procedural changes to preserve the health of players, the specter of irreversible brain damage doesn’t simply linger over the sport but lays across it like a toxic fog. There may not be a safe time to get out.

And it’s not just the ones pounding on the line. That Alex Karras ended his days being spoonfed may be a result of hits on every play, but Irv Cross was in the backfield and Dan Reeves was a running back. They all wound up in the same condition.

“Poundball” indeed.

15 thoughts on “CSotD: Courting Disaster

  1. Am I to understand that by a 9-0 vote, states are now forbidden from keeping Donald S. Trump or Joseph P. Biden off the federal ballot?

    1. Yes, it’s up to the feds, though I gather if Congress passed a law putting the clause into action, they could probably add a measure empowering the states.

    2. There still will be an eligibility question if he gets elected, based on that bit of law.

  2. The election season just keeps getting worse and worse. I’m figuring my mid-summer we’re going to be down to the electorate in general finally getting sick and tired of what the GOP has been doing the past three years, and voting en masse against them. At which point I’m convinced that Andy Marlette will have had the best take on the situation.

    No, I have absolutely no faith in the American public in general.

    1. Yeah, it’s really boiling down to hoping voters say “No” to Trump and authoritarianism en masse, which doesn’t fill me with confidence.

      Trump barely lost 2020, and after 4 years of Biden I’m not sure if he can win re-election.

      Not because I think he’s a bad president, but because everyone else seems to think he’s a bad president. Numbers and facts and data be damned.

      It also doesn’t help that the media has been constantly beating the “BIDEN OLD” drum.
      Though I do think it’s hilarious that the worst anyone can say about Biden is “he eats ice cream”
      Truly, he is history’s greatest monster…

  3. My cartoon was about the court’s decision to hear the immunity case. It was drawn before yesterday’s ruling on the ballot issue so, it’s not about that. Good news. I drew a cartoon on that decision yesterday and it’s not about orange makeup or ice cream.

    1. Mr. Jones, were the four animals meant to represent the remaining justices, or is that just a coincidence that there are nine characters (plus Jack Smith) in your cartoon?

  4. I think what really broke my heart in 2016 was that despite how he kept doing in the primaries, I was convinced that most Republicans had a line that they wouldn’t cross when it came to Trump. I was telling myself “sure, I live in a red state, but it’s all normal Republicans—the kind that just want lower taxes and such, Trump is just going to be too extreme for them.” Come to find out, there is no line—even for people that I thought I knew—and there are no “normal”Republicans. I’m at least not going to get my hopes up about that this time.

  5. “Elections should be decided by voters, not judges.” Amen. Could not agree more. But us voters did decide in 2020 and we are still here, aren’t we ?

  6. About that challenge of getting voters to make choices that ward off dictatorship and help preserve democracy…

    You’re making the assumption that voters don’t want dictatorship. I think there is a yuge number of voters who want exactly that. They truly believe Trump is above the law and they admire the same people Trump admires.

    There is also a “It’ll never happen here” contingent and they’re pretty much immune to stuff like policies, evidence, etc.

    Neither group gives a rat’s a$$ about Trump’s behavior or any of his crimes.

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