Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog is a very bright guy, but I don't think he understands American politics the way he understands the Supreme Court. He's written two posts predicting President Obama's High Court pick. In the first one, published yesterday morning, he argued that Ninth Circuit judge Paul Watford was Obama's likely choice. Watford is African American; Goldstein thinks Obama will want to appoint a black judge to the Court. Goldstein also thinks -- please make note of this -- that the Obama administration will want to "pick a nominee that fulfills both its jurisprudential and political goals, without giving Republicans a tool with which to fight back to persuade undecided voters."
By Sunday afternoon, Goldstein had declared the Watford post "superseded" and published this post, in which he offered what I presume is his final prediction:
... at this point I think that Attorney General Lynch is the most likely candidate. I think the administration is likely to nominate her....
Loretta Lynch? Seriously? Goldstein thinks Obama could nominate her "without giving Republicans a tool with which to fight back to persuade undecided voters"?
I'm not saying that Lynch ought to be controversial. I'm saying that the Republican demonization machine would go into overdrive if Lynch were Obama's pick, even though she won confirmation as attorney general in a Republican-controlled Senate just last year. She's already one of the right's favorite Antichrists, neatly replacing her predecessor at the Justice Department, Eric Holder. A Lynch pick would set off so much anger on the right that mainstream journalists would take the conservative howling and feces-flinging very, very seriously. Eventually the low-information public would conclude that there must be something awful about Lynch because she makes so many people so angry.
So what is it that conservatives don't like about Lynch?
The loudest howls of outrage came after she gave a speech in December to a group caled Muslim Advocates, in which she said:
Now obviously this is a country that is based on free speech, but when it edges towards violence, when we see the potential for someone to lift -- lifting that mantle of anti-Muslim rhetoric or, as we saw after 9/11, violence against individuals who may not even be Muslims but may be perceived to be Muslims and they will suffer just as well, just as much. When we see that, we will take action....
It seems clear to me that she means that the Justice Department will look into heated rhetoric when it constitutes an overt threat or when it seems to be a sign that the speaker intends to act in a violent way. But the right didn't see it that way:
Ted Cruz (who, as Goldstein notes, is likely to lead the charge against any Obama nominee) said this:
Loretta Lynch told a gathering the day after the San Bernardino attack that her department would move to prosecute anyone whose, quote, "anti-Muslim rhetoric," quote, "edged towards violence." The day after a terror attack, 14 innocent lives snuffed away. As has been the case all too often in the Obama administration, we may be facing once again the weaponization of one of our own government agencies, deployed not to protect Americans, but to force them to submit to the Obama administration's code of what is and is not acceptable speech.
Former congressman Joe Walsh, who's now on talk radio, dared Lynch to incarcerate him:
“I think Islam has a real freaking problem, alright?” Former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh said in a video posted to his Facebook page. “There is a cancer in Islam, and if they’re not going to learn to assimilate, I don’t want them in this country.”
“You got a problem, Loretta Lynch, with me saying that? Then throw me in jail,” Walsh, a conservative talk show host, argued. “I think Islam is evil. I think Islam has a huge problem. I think most Muslims around the world are not compatible with American values. I don’t want them here.”
You'd expect that from Walsh, who's a professional loudmouth. But what about this sleepy old guy?
In a Q&A after the same speech, she said something else that infuriated the right. Here's the Daily Caller story:
Speaking to a Muslim advocacy group on Thursday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch urged Muslim parents to contact the Justice Department and the Department of Education if their children are bullied at school.
“Other areas in which we are seeing growing areas of concern...specifically involve our children, and the issues of bullying and the schools,” Lynch said during a question-and-answer session at an event hosted by Muslim Advocates, a civil rights organization....
To address what she said is a growing problem of bullying of Muslim kids, Lynch urged parents to contact the federal government.
“If you are aware of situations where children are involved, please contact the Department of Justice and the Department of Education,” Lynch said. “We can provide guidance, we can have conversations.”
“Everything need not result in a lawsuit, but some things do have to go to that area,” Lynch said....
OMIGOD -- LORETTA LYNCH WANTS THE FEDS TO POLICE SCHOOLYARD FIGHTS!!!11!1!!!!
The right might bring up the Lynch Justice Department's investigationof the Baltimore Police Department and her meeting with Black Lives Matter leaders (even though she's also denounced attacks on police officers). The right might even dredge up this story, despite the fact that it's from the discredited GotNews:
Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch belonged to a student group that brought Jew-hating Palestinian terrorists to Harvard Law School every year she was a member.
Lynch belonged to the Harvard Black Law Students Association (BLSA) from 1981-1984 when she was a student.
During those years the radical black group brought representatives from the Palestinian Liberation Operation (PLO).
The group’s leader, Mohammed Kenyatta, called for the “liberation of Palestine” and expressed support for the terrorist organization.
Mohammed Kenyatta! If you wanted to make up a name that would infuriate and terrify old white conservatives, you couldn't do better than that, unless you made it "Mohammed Kenyatta X."
Goldstein predicts -- correctly, I think -- that no nominee will be approved. He believes Obama will choose someone who'll get a vote and be rejected on party lines; a second pick will be slow-walked, after which the Senate will say there's no time to get through the vetting and voting.
Nevertheless, Goldstein believes Obama's first pick will seem too safe to be denied a vote. But that can't happen to Lynch. The right would turns her into a grotesque caricature with ridiculous ease.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog