Features Australia

Having a list

4 August 2018

9:00 AM

4 August 2018

9:00 AM

For the past week I’ve been in my native Canada, aka the epicentre of TDS – Trump Derangement Syndrome. In the light of the Trudeau-Trump feud, there’s talk here north of the 49th parallel of not buying American goods any more and of not visiting the US any more either. Both look like virtue-signalling of Hollywood proportions. Canada sends approaching four-fifths of its exports to the US and gets loads back in return (though a fraction of a fraction of US exports). If you didn’t buy American here in Canada you’d be spending most of your time working out where products came from and hunting for obscure European alternatives, or discovering what you thought was ‘Canadian made’ had a big US component. As for any self-imposed travel ban, well that would be easier, no doubt, but then there are loads of Canucks who regularly flee the minus 30 degree and worse Great White North winters by heading to Florida, California, Arizona, Hawaii, etc. My bet is that come December or January that won’t change much at all.

Filtered through the eyes of a very left-leaning media here, the recent Putin-Trump summit only added to this TDS. The sort of left-wing voters who in years gone by could barely find a bad word to say about mass-murdering communist regimes like the Soviet Union, who applauded rapprochement with an authoritarian China, and who were ecstatic about Barack Obama’s ending of Cuba’s isolation, have been jumping up and down screaming that Trump’s attempt to bridge ties with Putin and Russia makes the Donald a coward, a treasonous traitor, a girly boy, a weakling and somehow proves he’s corrupt. Go figure! Of course, short of starting WWIII – which some of these TDS zealots predicted would be the result of a Trump presidency, along with impeachment, a recession, lower wages, and regular visits by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (all of which the crazier segments of the TDS movement deep down probably now desire) – it’s not at all clear to me why Trump shouldn’t meet Putin and try to get the two countries on better terms. Sure, Russia lacks the moral credentials of a Western democracy. On the other hand, it looks a helluva lot better than the former Soviet Union – and as I said, few on the Left were against summits with any of the gerontocrats who ran that mass-murdering hell-hole. Was President Trump supposed to pull out a gun and shoot Putin? Or impose blanket sanctions on his country, of the sort the legions of Obama worshippers were only too happy to remove against a much, much worse Iran? All one can do is laugh at the rampant hypocrisy, and note that this is the first time many lefties have wanted to take a vigorous and muscular approach to virtually any foreign country ever. I suppose only The Donald could turn legions of crazy lefties into Hobbesian strong defence types.

The other big topic dominating the TDS-related news here in Canada is ‘the List’ and Donald Trump’s supposed wickedness in not just promising to pick his top judges from amongst the names on that list but then, and more egregiously still, actually doing what he promised. For those of you who’ve been asleep the last month or so, Anthony Kennedy (the eratic swing vote on the Supreme Court of the United States) recently announced his retirement from the bench and Trump chose his nominated successor from the options he had previously enumerated on a list so that voters could see in advance the sort of people from which he would pick. This, we’re told by the lefty-liberal establishment, is some sort of heresy. They froth and foam and claim it’s an abdication of the President’s duty to choose for himself, while knowing in their hearts that Trump’s nominee Brett Kavanaugh is going to be approved by the US Senate before this November’s midterm elections and is going to move America’s top court noticeably towards much greater interpretive honesty, fidelity to the text and intentions of the constitution and its framers, and hence towards less judicial activism and over-ruling of the democratic branches.

You see, for decades Republican Presidents did a lousy job picking top judges. They’d go for someone who’d soon decide that imposing social policy results on the rest of the country (under the guise of ‘interpreting’ the US Bill of Rights) was a good deal more satisfying than being constrained by the text of the document, supplemented by the clear intentions of those who wrote it. Let’s face it, if you took that view then issues like abortion and gay marriage would have to be left to the voters. For most top judges it’s much more thrilling to don the robes of the Philosopher King and impose your preferred results on the plebs.  Which, alas, is what even a lot of Republican appointed judges did. After all, Kennedy (the swing vote on bypassing the elected legislatures and imposing same sex marriage) was a Reagan appointment.   Worse, left-wing Democrat-appointed judges virtually always do this and they never move right. It’s always the other way, those appointed by the right move left. So one of the great things Trump realised was that he’d get help to create a list of 25 or so potential top judges who would not succumb to this sort of ‘I love being a crypto-legislator more than interpreting the law’ temptation. By publishing the list the whole world could point out if some of the names were mistakes.  It’s sheer genius in terms of producing appointees those of us on the ‘pro-democratic decision-making, don’t make it up from the bench’ right side of politics would want and could trust. And that’s why the Democrats are in paroxysms of fury over this – because it’s working.

By way of comparison, just look at the High Court appointments made by George Brandis and the Libs here in Australia. I guarantee that if they had had to put those names on a list of 25 possible appointees at most one would have been considered appointable. One or two would have been laughed out of the court of centre-right legal opinion. The Abbott/Turnbull governments have been a disgrace on this High Court appointments front – no appointments of federalists, of originalists, of those who believe the constitution means what its ratifiers intended, but certainly some identity politics picks.

Meantime The Don is making a list; he’s checking it twice; he’s gonna decide who’ll avoid the judicial activist vice. Here in Australia, not so much. Which do you prefer?

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