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Transition to Trump: Mike Lee for Supreme Court would be the Democrats’ worst nightmare

As the dust settles from Donald Trump’s fascinating press conference the other day, a couple themes have emerged in the aftermath. First, following on the heels of President Obama’s wishy-washy feel-good tear-filled “farewell” address the previous evening, Trump wanted to use the occasion to emphasize that there was a new policy direction in the country fueled by people who are focused on results rather than worrying about half of the country’s emotional satisfaction.

And second, it was obvious that Trump’s aggressive behavior and language (he even used the word “crap” at one point) was part of a strategy to intimidate not only the media but also his opponents in Congress who Mike Leemight be gearing up to stand in the way of his keeping his campaign promises. Most important among them are to build a border wall, prevent companies from leaving the country and appointing a Supreme Court justice to replace the late Antonin Scalia.

As a consequence, Trump sent a message by delivering an epic smack-down of his critics and the media that made some of his more heated rhetoric during last year’s campaign seem docile by comparison.

Peter Kasperowicz of the Washington Examiner writes, “Two days of confirmation hearings show that President-elect Trump's Cabinet nominees are taking no prisoners, and are determined to quickly reverse President Obama's most controversial policies, including his immigration actions.

“At the same time, Trump himself showed in an unprecedented press conference that his rhetoric against the media wasn't just a campaign stunt, and that he's willing to fight reporters who don't see it his way.

“The combination has been a shock to the system...”

A shock indeed. Prior to Wednesday I think many in the media soothed themselves with a belief that there would be a kinder, gentler Trump once he neared Inauguration Day, willfully pretending that the president-elect’s behavior all throughout the campaign was just a showy aberration from reality.

Even now, long after the votes were counted and Trump was declared the president-elect the media and Democrats are still trying to make it all about Trump’s personality, completely ignoring the issue package that won him the presidency in the process.

Don’t believe it? In addition to the almost singular focus on Russian hacking by the media, one reporter even asked Trump if he still planned on releasing his tax returns. Who wrote that question, Hillary Clinton?

In response, Trump gave the same answer he offered during the campaign and confidently pronounced that no one cares about the issue and he won the election without people knowing what was in his tax returns. Trump’s wrong on this one though. Some people care a lot about his tax history – the Democrats and media members looking for some tidbit of information that will ruin Trump’s reputation with the public.

I no longer think such a possibility exists. Trump’s presidency will rise or fall with the things he does as president, not whether he continues to insult the most sensitive in the opposition party and the news media.

And in a sense, by continuing to focus solely on Trump the man, the media is doing him a favor.

Rich Lowry wrote in Politico, “Trump thrives off of media hostility, and the more hostile—and the less defensible—the better. It allows him to portray himself as the victim of a stilted establishment. It fires up his supporters. It keeps the debate on terrain that is familiar and favorable to him—whether or not he is being treated ‘fairly’—and allows him to adopt his preferred posture as a ‘counterpuncher.’…

“It created a media firestorm, but everyone should realize by now that media firestorms are Trump’s thing. They have been literally since the day he got into the presidential race. They suck the oxygen away from everything except the transfixing melodrama surrounding Donald Trump. The question is always, ‘How can he possibly escape this?’ And at the center of attention, vindicating his own honor and that of his supporters by proxy, he always does.”

On that point I found it curious the other day when Trump calmly conferred with vice president-elect Pence and his two sons on the sidelines while his attorney went over the details of his separation from the family business. His demeanor depicted a relaxed man who knew exactly what he was doing. I agree with Lowry -- as long as the media is the issue, Trump wins.

And as would be expected, the “journalists” involved didn’t take Trump’s actions lightly. Michael M. Grynbaum of the New York Times reports, “Not only did he break the norms of presidential engagement with the news media, snubbing organizations because of an unflattering story, but he also had elements of a frustrated political press corps warring with one another...

“The National Press Club also lamented Mr. Trump’s behavior, saying in a statement: ‘Presidents shouldn’t get to pick and choose which reporters’ questions they will answer based on what news outlet for which they work.’”

Really? Why not? When it’s been demonstrated over and over that most mainstream media outlets are heavily stocked with Democrat operatives and biased reporters with an agenda, why shouldn’t a Republican president cut the worst offenders out of the process? Should Trump be required to take questions from leftwing media outlets too?

The whole notion is absurd. The truth is, the establishment “traditional” media is only interested in side matters like Russian hacking and the conservative media cares about issues and policies. It’s sensationalism and spin versus substance.

Think about it. Are we still going to be talking about Russian cyberwarfare two months from now? Does this story have staying power? I think not. The media will move on to the next item they surmise will bring down Trump and the new administration will ignore it in the same way.

All the while, the wall will get built, Obamacare will be history and Trump’s cabinet members will begin the process of reforming the government. Let the media obsess over the Russians if they want. It’s a loser of an issue. Most of it is tabloid garbage that you see in the checkout line at the supermarket.

Will the media ever learn?

Thursday was another good day for Trump’s nominees before Senate committees

While the media was still buzzing over the rebuke it received at the hands of Donald Trump, more cabinet hearings were taking place in Washington. Defense Secretary nominee James “Mad Dog” Mattis, CIA designee Mike Pompeo and Housing and Urban Development appointee Ben Carson went before their respective Senate panels on Thursday.

Each presented himself well without much controversy – at least that I witnessed. But there were some memorable moments.

Mattis proved to be very humble and direct during his question and answer period, admitting a number of times that he would have to get up to speed on certain issues after he is confirmed in order to provide reasonable answers to some of the specific queries, such as how the recent UN resolution on Israel would impact its security.

Perhaps the most noteworthy exchange with a liberal Democrat was over sexual orientation.

Katie Frates of the Daily Caller reports, “Secretary of Defense nominee James Mattis really doesn’t care who people sleep with, especially in the military.

“He dismissed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s question about LGBT members of the military during his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday, saying, ‘I’ve never cared.’

“’Do you believe that allowing LGBT Americans to serve in the military or women in combat is undermining our lethality?’ Gillibrand asked.

“’Frankly, senator, I’ve never cared much about two consenting adults and who they go to bed with,’ he replied.”

This issue was bound to come up at some point. Interestingly enough, the liberals still seem more concerned with maintaining the military as a laboratory for social experimentation than they do about effectiveness or morale. Just wait until they try to shove transgender bathrooms down the military’s throat (if they haven’t already).

(Note: The House passed a waiver for Mattis to be able to serve as Defense Secretary if he is confirmed.)

Ben Carson’s hearing before the Senate banking committee was fairly calm by comparison, with Carson showing a surprising attention to detail on housing issues that appeared to surprise the senators.

Of course Senator Elizabeth Warren was more concerned with making sure Trump and his family weren’t given special status under Carson’s watch. Lorraine Woellert and Kyle Cheney of Politico report, “Warren pressed Carson to guarantee that he wouldn't use a single HUD grant or loan to benefit any company associated with Trump…

“Carson vowed that his decisions would be ‘driven by a sense of morals and values.’

“’I will absolutely not play favorites for anyone,’ he said.”

Terrorism fighting Congressman Mike Pompeo also sailed through his public hearing, promising he would separate politics from his duties as head of the CIA. Like Mattis, Pompeo also had to answer a number of questions on Russia and hacking from Democrats who can’t seem to get away from the subject. They’re consumed with Russia – but it’s all they have.

It’s hard to tell just from the hearings themselves whether or not Democrats are going to go along with confirming any or all of Trump’s nominees. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer did say on Thursday that he will vote no on Jeff Sessions’ nomination – what a steel backbone that guy has.

“After reviewing his record and giving careful consideration to his answers during the hearing, I am not confident in Senator Sessions’ ability to be a defender of the rights of all Americans, or to serve as an independent check on the incoming administration,” Schumer said in a statement.

I suspect this is a similar line of reasoning many Democrats are going to use in voting against not only Sessions but a lot of Trump’s appointments. Politics trumps principle for the minority party. Some things never change.

Mike Lee says he would accept a Supreme Court appointment, Trump should seriously consider it

The media and the country are rightfully focusing on Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees this week, but the specter of the Supreme Court vacancy is never far from peoples’ minds.

Trump did receive one definite “I would accept if offered” answer from someone he may or may not be considering for the opening.

Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner reports, “Conservative Utah Sen. Mike Lee said Wednesday that he would accept a nomination to the Supreme Court if President-elect Trump wants him there.

“’Absolutely I would,’ he told Washington's WMAL. ‘I would,’ he eagerly told Larry O'Connor, host of the afternoon Larry O'Connor Show.

“Earlier Wednesday, Trump told a news conference that he has neared the end of his process to pick a replacement for the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. He said he plans to announce his pick within two weeks of Inauguration Day, January 20.”

One would think the fires burning over the confirmation of many of Trump’s cabinet picks would have died down by then. Needless to say, they’ll reignite the moment the new president announces his selection for the Supreme Court.

Sen. Mike Lee would be an excellent choice for many reasons. As a member of the Senate it’s likely Lee would be spared some of the more ridiculous personal and ideological crucifixion that other nominees would certainly face as Democrats cut down to the bone trying to snuff out the nomination as they’ve already vowed to do.

The hearings for Sen. Jeff Sessions went fairly smoothly, all things considered, and I would think having Lee as the one responding to questions over precedents and court rulings from a hundred years ago would probably motivate senators to stick closer to the topic than they would for other people before them.

If Lee’s nomination was defeated, for example, he would return to his elected position in the Senate where the inquisitors would have to work with him for years. If they’re too nasty and unfair it will reflect badly not only on themselves but also the institution.

There could always be skeletons in Lee’s closet, but the Utah senator appears to be a man of outstanding personal integrity as well as being dedicated to principle and constitutional originalism. And there’s no doubting Lee’s got the intellectual firepower for the job.

Appointing Lee would also be a smart move politically for Trump. It’s well-known that Lee was part of the #NeverTrump faction and could easily prove to be a thorn in the president’s side if some controversy arises in the future. The Supreme Court has traditionally served as a good place to bury enemies if need be.

Make no mistake; Lee is no “enemy.” But as a relatively young man (age 45) Lee could easily serve on the court for 30 or more years. It would be a heck of a way for Trump to cement his legacy long after he’s left office.

Let’s hope Trump is taking all of these things under consideration. If his cabinet picks are any indication, Trump will choose someone who’s conservative and well-qualified for the nation’s highest Court. Then it’ll be up to the Democrats to try and stop him.

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Lee on Supreme Court

DEMs worst nightmare? Then do it and do it now.