If you pick a fight in a forest and no one shows up to see it, does it make a sound?
So much for the full-court press by the White House to pressure the Senate into confirming Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland. While the Beltway media has focused on the dramatic standoff between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, voters everywhere else have largely yawned. Associated Press correspondent Julie Pace told CNN’s John King yesterday that she sat in on focus-group testing with swing voters, who could care less about an esoteric debate over the nature of “advise and consent”:
PACE: I sat in on some focus groups this past week with both swing voters and Republican voters, and some of the questions they were asked were about the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland. And this was a real reality check for anyone in Washington who thinks that this issue is really animating voters across the country. I was so struck by how these voters seemed comply uninterested in the nomination fight.Among the swing voters, not one of them said that this was something that would really impact their vote in the fall. And even among the Republican voters who felt like this nomination should wait until the next president, almost none felt like this was an issue that was going to affect their vote either in the presidential race or in their Senate race.
KING: Nice try Mr. President, I guess is the result.
This will disappoint not just the White House, but some news editors as well. Today, Roll Call offers a full breakdown of Merrick Garland’s meetings on Capitol Hill from Bridget Bowman, who does offer a nod to reality with the subhed, “What do you talk about when there’s really nothing to talk about?” The Washington Post, which had been hyping the battle, offers an interview of Carrie Severino as an explanation of why Garland’s nomination isn’t going anywhere:
The effort has been, so far, remarkably successful. In the five weeks since Obama nominated U.S. Circuit Judge Merrick B. Garland to the high court, Garland has met with 10 Republican senators, and none subsequently changed their views on whether the Senate should act. Chief Counsel Carrie Severino sat down Friday to discuss why the blockade is holding and what’s ahead in the fight over Garland’s nomination. The interview has been edited for length.
Tell me how you see the state of play.
The Democrats have tried to take every opportunity they have, they’ve poured millions of dollars into attacking Republican senators without any real effect. The Republican coalition has held firm, and I think you’ve seen people coming out of those meetings even more convinced that Judge Garland is not the right person to carry on in Justice Scalia’s footsteps. In the middle of an election year it makes the most sense to let the people have a voice. We’re going to wait on this, and then we’ll have an opportunity to discuss the merits of Garland in particular more in November, at least in terms of the Senate.
It helps when someone calls people to the ramparts for an issue that lands far down the list of priorities of those they assume will fight on their behalf.