Why mess with success? Donald Trump knows that scoring a hit on prime-time television requires one to milk the concept until the public loses interest. The White House managed to sustain the Supreme Court suspense between Thomas Hardiman and Neil Gorsuch until the moment that the latter walked out onto the televised stage in January 2017, so … welcome to the second season of The Justice:
President Donald Trump has narrowed his Supreme Court shortlist, according to sources familiar with his interview efforts, and is planning a prime-time event to announce his eventual pick to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy. …
The official said the president will announce the pick Monday evening, in an event likely similar to his unveiling of Gorsuch, followed by an aggressive P.R. pitch from the West Wing.
So much for getting the word out before the weekend. There had been some hints that the White House might want to get the word out early, especially for a Friday afternoon release that would dominate the news cycles, if Trump made his decision. That never made a lot of sense, for a couple of reasons. First, the holiday has allowed many people to tune out the news the rest of this week, so the impact will be lesser rather than greater with a Friday announcement.
More importantly, though, the suspense is the story. The longer it drags out, the better it gets for Trump, especially given the unhinged responses the opening has already provoked among Democrats. Here for instance is Erin Gloria Ryan arguing that Amy Coney Barrett would be the “Aunt Lydia” of The Handmaid’s Tale as a Supreme Court jurist, ready to sell fellow women down the river of sexual slavery. She also argues that Trump hasn’t appointed enough women while at the same time arguing that appointing a woman won’t make any difference anyway:
So … appointing a woman doesn’t impact the perception that Trump hasn’t appointed enough women, and a conservative Catholic appointee would suddenly usher in a new era of total government control? Er … Barrett may or may not be in the running, but why would Trump want to make that clear before generating more of this comic gold from the fever swamps? If it wasn’t for the need to get Anthony Kennedy’s replacement on the bench before the first Monday in October, Trump might well have waited for sweeps month in November.
As for the prime-time reality-show reveal, that innovation appears to be here to stay. Maybe a generation ago it would have looked crass and manipulative. In these times, though, helped along by Trump himself to be sure, it seems to fit the 24/7 demand from the electorate for our political leaders and participants to provide fresh entertainment for the masses. Ask not for whom the rose tolls … it tolls for we.