Warren's Tax Dodge; Defending Due Process; the O'Connor Gambit

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Good morning, it’s Monday, Oct. 14, 2019. Thirty-nine years ago today, a Republican presidential candidate made a momentous campaign promise. It was a pledge originating, as most of them do, from the exigencies of trying to fashion a winning message. This particular bit of campaign-trail theater had its origins in a conversation between former California Gov. Ronald Reagan and his most trusted political adviser, Stuart K. Spencer.

Sensing just three weeks before Election Day that Reagan’s campaign had gone “flat,” Spencer urged Reagan to shake up the narrative up by proposing something new, preferably something bold. They discussed various ideas. The one the candidate liked best was vowing to put the first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.

This was a conversation that bore fruit, although it required some backstage maneuvering, as I’ll mention in a moment. First I’d point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following:

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Why the “Medicare for All” Tax Question Matters. Bill Scher writes that Elizabeth Warren’s dodge on the specifics of cost is politically understandable, but unhelpful to voters and policymakers.

Trump Defends Due Process From Congressional Usurpation. Frank Miele applauds the letter presidential attorney Pat Cipollone sent to Nancy Pelosi last week defending a foundational principle of the rule of law.

LGBTQ Town Hall Showcased Democratic Extremism. Steve Cortes asserts that 2020 candidates’ positions show a disregard for constitutional protections such as freedom of religion.

Watchdog Complaint Cites Dark-Money Group Targeting Collins. Susan Crabtree has the story.

Dear Democrats: Hunter Biden Is No Ivanka Trump. Marc Lotter offers this comparison.

Why Chinese Students Abroad Stand With Repressors at Home. In RealClearInvestigations, Richard Bernstein reports on a cultural sea change.

Leaving Venezuela's Oil Sector Only Benefits Russia and China. In RealClearEnergy, Steve Forbes discusses a potential disaster for U.S. national security. 

U.S. Energy Reliability Gone With the Wind. Also in RCE, Matthew Kandrach lays out the importance of a diversified power grid. 

Five Facts: Reforming the Supreme Court. In RealClearPolicy, No Labels summarizes proposals to change the judicial body.

Elizabeth Holmes Is a Visionary -- We Need More Like Her. RealClearMarkets editor John Tamny offers a contrarian view of the Theranos CEO who is the subject of an unfavorable new book, “Bad Blood.”

How Germany Could Have Won WWII. In RealClearHistory, David Pyne reexamines Hitler’s miscalculations in the first part of a series. 

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What Ronald Reagan said he’d do, on Oct. 14, 1980, wasn’t exactly ironclad. Discussing the Supreme Court, all the Gipper promised was to nominate a woman to “one of the first vacancies in my administration.”

Neither Reagan nor Jimmy Carter was assured of having any vacancies to fill, let along more than one, and Reagan’s campaign advisers left him sufficient wriggle room, if he wanted it. He didn’t. When Justice Potter Stewart announced his resignation on June 18, 1981 -- less than six months after Reagan’s inauguration -- Attorney General William French Smith sent a list of 20 names to the White House, a dozen of them women. When Reagan made it clear that he considered his October 1980 statement a binding promise, the list was pared to four female names.

Just as Reagan never considered any of the men on the original list, he appears not to have focused seriously on any of the women except for Sandra Day O’Connor.

This announcement was met with grousing from the National Right to Life Committee and some well-connected social conservatives. The Rev. Jerry Falwell, leader of the Moral Majority, proclaimed that all “good Christians” should view the appointment with concern. Falwell had been a staunch Reagan supporter, but he had very little sway compared to Barry Goldwater, O’Connor’s fellow Arizonan and a man with a long and close alliance with Reagan.

 “Every good Christian,” Goldwater spat back, “ought to kick Falwell right in the ass.”

That was the end of the debate, at least insofar as Senate conservatives were concerned. Privately, Reagan demonstrated that he understood their concerns about O’Connor. He seems to have weighed the chief worry, however briefly, and resolved it in his own mind by simply hoping for the best.

“Already the flak is starting and from my own supporters,” Reagan wrote in his diary. “Right-to-Life people say she is pro-abortion. She declares abortion is personally repugnant to her. I think she'll make a good justice.” 

Carl M. Cannon  
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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