Politics, like any clubby discipline, has a jargon. Or if you prefer, an argot. Whether in the form of real words used in unusual applications, or in the form of freshly minted phrases, Washington D.C. sports a vocabulary all its own. This results in insiders using words in conversation that outsiders cannot plumb. It is a way to “tighten their Beltway”, making said insiders look smart at the expense of the uninitiated. Elite elisions create cultural collisions.
Yet Fate gets the last laugh often enough, because once people become accustomed to speaking among themselves, they lose a lot of their capacity to communicate with others. Sometimes you can watch a political talk show, and some party strategist or issue activist keeps referring to an issue they are passionate about, each time describing it with the same Our Crowd expression that no one else recognizes. He or she keeps turning up the heat, becoming ever more indignant, and neither the host nor the audience can even decipher the reference.
That happened this year to the Trump campaign with “packing the Court”. The campaign ran millions of dollars in ads saying that if elected Joe Biden would pack the Court. The President himself challenged Biden in debates to assure voters he would not pack the Court. Biden would not grant the assurance, instead wading into vaguery about consulting with experts. He wouldn’t explain more but in actuality he needn’t have troubled to go as far as he did. This is because the viewers could not unpack that phrase.
How do I know so affirmatively? Because I conducted a poll using the highest scientific standards, weighted for anthropological and sociological factors. In other words, I asked all my family and friends. Not one – not a single one – had a clue of what “pack the Court” meant. They thought the ads were saying that Biden hoped to put a lot of liberals into Federal judgeships.
Here it is: live with it! The campaign WASTED MILLIONS OF DOLLARS (I am shouting, because that four-word mantra is the only one that gets these folks’ attention) on scare ads about “packing the Court”, because no one knew what they were talking about. Think on it!
Well, then, what does “packing the Court” actually mean? It means the House and Senate will vote to increase the Supreme Court to 13 or 15 Justices. That will allow the sitting President to add 4 or 6 of his choices, giving him an ideological majority including a bunch of newbies with personal debts of loyalty. If Biden won/wins, and the Senate goes 50/50 after the two Georgia runoffs for Senate go Democrat, Charles Schumer has the votes already to eliminate the 60-vote cloture requirement. 50 Senators plus Kamala will add 4 or 6 Progressive Justices to conquer the Supreme Court, and President Biden will sign on the dotted line.
All of which brings us back to the ongoing Presidential post-Election. Right now it is still a sequel of the 1966 McCall’s article and 1970 film, Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came. Rudolph Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and Jenna Ellis are doing incredible work and making impassioned presentations in front of courts and legislatures, all while Joe Biden ignores the whole business. (See the companion to this piece, King’s Gambit.)
But at some point a petition will come before the Supreme Court arguing that Trump should get the electoral votes of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and either Nevada or Arizona, making him the winner. The Court just might surprise everyone by granting an “expedited hearing” but dragging its decision out past January 5th, 2021, and blocking the Electoral College from meeting to declare a winner.
And here we may well see the ultimate gambit. A gambit, we explained elsewhere, means losing one thing in order to win something bigger. On January 5, the two Georgia Senate runoffs will take place. If the Republicans win one or more, the Supreme Court will likely affirm Biden’s victory, knowing the Senate to be in safe hands. But were the Republicans to lose both, then a vote by any two of the conservative Justices for Biden would hand over their majority power on the Court voluntarily. Is that likely to happen? Inquiring minds want to know.