With Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins having publicly stated this week that whoever wins the election should fill the Supreme Court vacancy, and that no vote should take place in the meantime, it means we’re already halfway to the four defectors required to shut the whole thing down.
This brings us to the matter of Mitt Romney, who has been awfully quiet this weekend. So what’s he really up to? I have no inside information, and I doubt anyone else does either. But based on his pattern of behavior since he became a Senator, here’s what I would strongly guess is happening right now.
We’ve seen that Mitt Romney is willing to do the right thing, but he likes to play it safe along the way. For instance, when he voted to convict and remove Trump, he was (correctly) gambling that the public would eventually come to see this as the right move, and that it would benefit his standing and stature in the long term. The reality is that Romney surely wants to run for President again in 2024, and he wants to go into that race with a record he can defend.
It was one thing for Romney to be the lone wolf who was brave enough to vote to convict a guilty man. But I would guess that he doesn’t want to be on the losing side of the Supreme Court vacancy fight. If he comes out against filling the seat but then it gets filled anyway, he risks being forever seen by the right as the guy who tried to keep them from having that particular Justice. But if he can kill the nomination and that person never makes it onto the court, they’ll have been forgotten by 2024, and all anyone will remember is that Romney did the right thing.
So my educated guess is that with two defections already announced but a total for four needed, Mitt Romney doesn’t want to be the third – he wants to be the fourth. Romney may be trying to convince some other Republican Senators to be the third defector, so he can then put it over the top by being the fourth one to speak up. But again, we’re all just guessing. Romney hasn’t done anything to tip his hand just yet.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report