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Only made it out to needles September 12, 2020 at 11:54 a.m.

“Here politics is purged of all menace, all sinister quality, all genuine significance, and stuffed with such gorgeous humors, such inordinate farce that one comes to the end of a campaign with one’s ribs loose, and ready for ‘King Lear,’ or a hanging, or a course of medical journals.”

—H.L. Mencken, “On Being an American.”

FOR ALL his faults, the current president of the United States does one thing better than any president before him: He needles the opposition into apoplexy. That’s one of the reasons his voters cast their ballots for him in 2016.

He was push-back against not only the establishment of the Democratic Party, but also push-back against those establishment Republicans who took insults on the chin with grace and aplomb while losing a debate/issue/election. A good many of President Trump’s supporters cast their ballots for him four years ago not despite his needling, but because of it. Take that, elite Beltway types.

Donald Trump’s supporters might tell pollsters they don’t like his style and personality, but something tells us a lot of them secretly enjoy the entertainment from time to frequent time.

Take, for example, his release of a list this past week—a list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court, should he get another chance if re-elected.

There’s nothing in the Constitution that says a president should release any such list. And there was no political necessity to do so before an election. (Like, say, a release of tax records.) But Donald Trump must have decided that it was time to make the opposition stark raving Twitter again. So he released a list of 20 new names that he says he’ll consider for the nation’s highest court.

One of them is from Arkansas. You might have heard that the junior U.S. senator from around here, Tom Cotton, is on the president’s new short list for nominees to the United States Supreme Court. Or at least the short list of people the president wants his opposition to scream about.

Our considered editorial opinion: It’s high time that somebody with strong Arkansas ties served on that court. Somebody once said that Learned Hand might have been the greatest American jurist of his time not to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. But so was another jurist after him, in another time: Richard Sheppard Arnold.

But Richard Arnold was hampered by a president in the 1990s who didn’t seek anything but mediocrities in his judicial selections.

Would Tom Cotton make a good justice on the Supreme Court? One thing we doubt he’d be: conventional or milquetoast or unaware of his own beliefs.

Think about all the milksops on the Supreme Court in just your lifetime, Gentle Reader. For example, David Souter. Someone once said that a Supreme Court decision could turn depending on what Sandra Day O’Connor had for breakfast. And those are just former justices. Several others still wear the robe.

Tom Cotton is not a judge. But nothing in the Constitution says a Supreme Court justice has to have such experience. (Nothing in our founding document says a justice even has to be a lawyer.) But Sen. Cotton has a law degree from Harvard, and clerked for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court. He has legal, political and martial experience. Presidents can do worse in choosing a nominee. And often have.

There is no telling if the president was serious in releasing this list, which also includes the likes of Ted Cruz (!), Josh Hawley and others. But his opponents are taking it so seriously that we’re beginning to worry about their systolic pressures. They should try decaf. Or “King Lear.” Anything to calm them down.

Us? We like Tom Cotton where he is. And maybe one day he’ll be the one nominating people for these positions.


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