Do Trump’s Judicial Nominees Fix Everything?
That faction within the Republican Party base that would like to think of itself as conservative while simultaneously giving its enthusiastic support to the least conservative Republican president ever, is in heaven today and feeling perfectly vindicated. Donald Trump has appointed a couple of conservative judges to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. That’s great — and underwhelming.
The 5th Circuit Court has jurisdiction in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, hardly a region where a Republican POTUS would be tempted to appoint anything but proven conservatives. And a quick check of Wikipedia’s page on the court confirms that its current roster of judges is heavily dominated by Reagan and Bush appointees. For Trump to nominate any non-conservative judges there would be act of extreme chutzpah on his part, the last thing one should ever expect from the ultimate finger-in-the-wind Opportunist-in-Chief. He appointed conservative judges to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals at a moment when many on the fringes of his cult are beginning to doubt him, much as he once gave $50,000 to Rahm Emanuel’s mayoral campaign when he was hoping to grease the wheels of a Chicago real estate project. It’s just “what a businessman does.”
The one ace in the hole Trump’s supporters have — though they never openly admit it for fear of sullying the veneer of genius around their hero — is that Trump knows absolutely nothing about issues, principles, political philosophy, procedures, or who is who. For that reason, whenever any situation arises in which Trump knows he is so far out of his depth that he will make a complete fool of himself by acting without advice, he simply defers to his establishment advisors — or, alternatively, to what I call his “alt-establishment” advisors. Luckily, the judiciary is one of those (many) areas of ignorance where Trump, in the only example of Socratic wisdom we’ll ever see from him, knows that he does not know. Therefore, his advisors on judicial matters are given more or less free rein to recommend appointments they deem reasonable, with Trump acting only as rubber stamp.
I wish fewer seemingly reasonable people were wearing their partisanship on their sleeves so unreservedly as to grasp at every little opportunity to judge Trump a winner each time he fulfills the minimal expectations of a nominally Republican (i.e., RINO) president. This is the same Trump who has flopped on repealing ObamaCare, and personally favors single payer health care; who has begun the inevitable process of abandoning his base in favor of making pragmatic deals with the Democratic Party’s quasi-communist leadership; who has been an establishment toady and yes-man all his adult life, but whose stupidity and illiteracy some desperate people are willing to mistake for evidence of an outsider; who uses strongman rhetoric and schoolyard bully tactics to isolate and threaten perceived opponents and critics; who lost the popular vote, and almost the election, to either the worst or second-worst presidential candidate in American history; who ran (allegedly) on sealing the Mexican border and deporting all the illegals, but is now singing the amnesty anthem; and who has tweeted so much irrational, self-aggrandizing, irresponsible covfefe, that he has made an international laughingstock of the country that not only made him a presidential nominee, but actually elected him to the highest office in the known universe.
Yes, some seemingly good judicial nominations, thanks to the combination of decent advisors in that area and complete insecurity on Trump’s part. Is this enough to make him a good or desirable president? Hardly.
(As for the Socratic virtue of knowing what one does not know, its value derives from its being the necessary first step on the path to the philosophic life, as only the man who accepts his ignorance can proceed to seek knowledge. One substantial difference between Trump and Socrates, however, is that while the latter regards the realization of one’s ignorance as an impetus to begin the arduous task of seeking the knowledge one lacks, Trump is perfectly satisfied — satisfied, not happy, happiness being permanently beyond the reach of the vicious — to wallow in his ignorance, lacking even the barest modicum of intellectual curiosity.)