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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Empty Threats Behind Court Fight

As we await the President’s announcement of a Supreme Court nominee, there’s already lots of anticipatory threats by conservatives absorbed with this sort of thing to make life hell for any red-state Democrats who vote with the President for some godless liberal activist, which of course means anyone Obama names. These threats are in turn the sum and substance of conservative claims that they could actually win a confirmation fight.
But as Terence Samuel points out today in The American Prospect,
the political landscape for the 2010 elections doesn’t offer up too many ripe targets for conservative threats:

Only two Senate Democrats — Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota — will seek re-election in 2010 in states lost by Obama, and both currently have solid re-elect numbers and plenty of money to suppress any serious challenges. Among the 16 Democratic Senate seats up next year, the issue may potentially cause trouble for only two — Harry Reid the majority leader from Nevada and, now, Arlen Specter, whose changeling tendencies can make enemies in surprising places. But both of those guys are people who know how to finesse and fight back.
With so few strategic options available to them, Republicans will have no choice but to make this Court fight as controversial as possible, simply as a way to remind people of their existence.

That sounds about right. The upcoming confirmation fight will be largely an intra-Republican affair aimed at keeping their own senators in line, and in demonstrating the GOP’s continuing fidelity to what has often been called a “marriage” with the Cultural Right, which treats Supreme Court nominations as vastly more important than mere trifles like economic policy.

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