Sometimes it seems that Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) will do anything to maintain the strange new respect he gets from MSNBC and CNN for being an anti-Trump Republican. It’s as if he doesn’t realize that they will turn on him the moment he runs against a Democrat or votes against their agenda. His latest suck-up move is announcing he will vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court after 11 of his colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against her nomination surviving the committee.
I intend to vote in support of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. My statement: pic.twitter.com/uGaxx8sJn5
— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) April 4, 2022
This statement leaves two burning questions for the Senator. First, while the other two reliable GOP turncoats, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), voted to confirm Jackson to the D.C. Circuit Court last summer, Romney did not. As Mollie Hemingway noted, the only significant new information about Jackson’s record after her SCOTUS nomination was her weak record when sentencing child sex offenders.
The only new info since he voted against her a few months ago was increased awareness of her “soft-on-pedos” approach, which makes this new Romney position super interesting. https://t.co/n0oWhqiZUz
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) April 5, 2022
Hemingway’s observation sent the squish caucus, led by MSNBC contributor and Dispatch editor Stephen Hayes, straight over the edge. Hayes and others of course accused Hemingway of inferring that Romney supports pedophilia. All she noted is that his brief statement does not explain his change of heart in light of the only new information to surface. How can Romney assert that Jackson “more than meets the standard of excellence and integrity” and is “a well-qualified jurist” for SCOTUS when he voted against her for the lower court in June of 2021?
Romney’s reversal is a legitimate line of inquiry in light of the revelations during the confirmation hearing, not just because of the type of criminal Jackson showed sympathy for during sentencing. The country is in the middle of an unprecedented increase in crime, including violent crime. Senators should view any soft-on-crime judicial nominee skeptically, and Jackson certainly fits that description. All three Republican senators who announced they would vote to confirm Jackson failed their constituents on this front. However, Romney was the only one who changed his opinion.
Another line of inquiry could be why Romney has not had an issue voting against other radical nominees, even when they are women of color. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke also had a record of opinions and writings far to the left of the mainstream. During her confirmation, opposition research showed that she had compared law enforcement officers to the KKK, advanced the idea that increased melanin levels gave blacks greater spiritual and mental abilities, and insisted that all hiring should take race into account.
When the Senate voted to confirm, Collins was the only Republican who voted for Clarke. Romney did not. While serving as Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ is certainly a high-impact position, it is not a lifetime appointment. A Republican president can undo it. Why did Romney have the intestinal fortitude to determine that Clarke was too radical for an agency appointment but could not muster the same for Jackson’s far more consequential nomination?
There are also two realities that Romney and other Republicans like him miss. First, there are no good faith efforts across the aisle with Democrats anymore. As we saw in the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, they will make up charges to smear even an anodyne Republican nominee. Believing they will respond in kind when Republicans extend support or won’t turn on you for wrongthink five minutes after you cave is naive and disqualifying. Any strange new respect these squishes get is temporary, even if they have been extended a contributor contract at a cable news outlet for the sake of “balance.”
Second, the culture war is the only political war that matters right now. As Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has shown, many of the cultural issues lean toward our side at this point. The Left has gone too far with gender ideology, racial politics, and taking away civil liberties during the pandemic for most Americans. We don’t need any Republicans in D.C. who are not interested in fighting the culture war, even when fighting that war means torpedoing a “historic” nomination until the Vice President shows up and provides the tie-breaking count.