Tuesday, May 03, 2022


It's been less than 24 hours since that draft Supreme Court decision on abortion was leaked, and while normal people are focused on the end of Roe v. Wade, Republicans -- with one voice, as usual -- are angrily proclaiming that the leak is the real news here. A few headlines:
* Cruz blames Supreme Court abortion leak on Democratic Party's 'vicious partisan politicking'

* McConnell slams ‘lawless’ leak of Roe draft, says move meant to intimidate justices

* Ron DeSantis: SCOTUS Leak Is ‘Judicial Insurrection’

* Sen. Mike Lee: Supreme Court Leak Seeks to ‘Pressure’ Court, Justices, It Is ‘Dangerous, Despicable, Damaging’

And so on. Boy, that was fast! They settle on this message almost immediately.

But that's how they always do it -- everyone delivers the same message, and they do it so incessantly and so self-righteously that people (especially Beltway journalists) start to believe there must be something really valid in what they're saying. Republicans don't always persuade swing voters, but they at least establish the terms of debate.

Democrats are looking at this draft decision and lamenting the lost promise of 2021. Remember how we were going to add two new states and several new Supreme Court justices? But even when President Biden was riding high in the polls, those ideas were denounced as radical and extreme. Democrats backed away from them.

Republicans wouldn't have, if the parties were reversed.

This is how you do it: Everybody gets on board, for the good of the party. Everybody says the same thing, with the same degree of self-rghteousness. They say it and say it and eventually what might have been regarded as radical or peculiar now seems mainstream. If Republicans had wanted to add states or expand the Court, they'd have crafted a message that made not doing these things seem like the radical course of action. They'd have portrayed the status quo as the threat to normal Americans, and their plans as the restoration of what ordinary, decent people have a right to expect. And everyone would memorize the talking points and repeat them whenever a microphone was nearby.

They'd all be on board, of course, the way even the allegedly pro-choice Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski were on board for Donald Trump appointees whose willingness to overturn Roe was entrirely predictable. Republican moderates occasionally break with the party, but on important votes they fall in line, except in exceedingly rare cases, like the 2017 vote to repeal Obamacare. They certainly don't take a sledgehammer to the party's entire legislative agenda the way Joe Manchin and Kysten Sinema have over the past year.

Republicans set their goals, work together, and message relentlessly. It works. It could have worked for Democrats in 2021.

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