Sunday, July 8, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He made a choice for his next Supreme Court nomination, possibly multiple times--or possibly not at all.

Trump seems determined to rally interest in his nomination for the seat on the Supreme Court vacated by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. He has promised an announcement on Monday evening during the television prime time hours, which will satisfy his obsession with TV ratings. But according to reporting by NPR, as of the night before that announcement, he does not yet have a final choice to announce.

As is typical, Trump is spending most of the weekend at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he has today let himself be lobbied by advocates for all four of his final candidates, in a process one person involved called "insane." Of course, presidents always get advice from party leaders and members of the legal community, but most do so before they are supposed to have made a choice. 

Trump's distrust of his own staff is notorious. He believes (not without cause) that they are often trying to "manage" him into less extreme or impetuous decisions. This may account for his unwillingness to tell his own closest advisors of any firm decision. But he is also famously susceptible to taking the advice of the last person who has his attention before a decision has to be made. That probably accounts for the flurry of activity at Bedminster today, with each faction trying to be the final word on the subject.

So what?

  • Making a good decision about who to nominate for a Supreme Court decision is much, much more important than making a big political splash with the announcement.
  • The presidency is not a reality TV show.
  • It's bad if the President of the United States is easy to manipulate.