What happens when an elected Republican official spends all their time in a right-wing bubble? They start to sound like Sen. Joni Ernst, who seemed totally unprepared to answer some basic and common questions about her policy and political goals in an Iowa Press interview on Friday.
The most newsworthy moment that came from the taping with a trio of top Iowa reporters was Ernst admitting that she would back a lame-duck Supreme Court nomination at the end of this year, even if President Donald Trump was defeated and even if Senate Republicans lost their majority.
As most will remember, that runs directly counter to her position in 2016, when she argued, “We must wait to see what the people say this November.” Now, Ernst wants to ram through another Trump nominee even if the people do speak and reject Trump and herself.
That wildly hypocritical position was bad enough, but what was also astonishing in Ernst’s answer (and the rest of the interview, really), was just how poorly she explained her position. Take two minutes (really, just take two minutes) and watch her response as the reporters press her on a nomination.
The Joni Ernst SCOTUS comments are much more stunning in the actual video. Watch the 2 minutes. Ernst’s reasoning for a lame-duck confirmation is simply that Republicans control the White House and Senate pic.twitter.com/scuuphSEXx
— Iowa Starting Line (@IAStartingLine) July 17, 2020
“We have a Republican-held Senate and a Republican president, so I don’t see there would be any difference between the president and the Senate on a selection of a Supreme Court justice,” Ernst said, noting 2016 was different because there was a Democratic president.
Pressed several times on the matter, Ernst repeatedly returned to the simple argument that Republicans control the White House and Senate, and that’s why they should get to appoint a new justice, even if voters outright reject them in November.
“It is a lame-duck session, I would support going ahead with any hearings that we might have, and if it comes to an appointment prior to the end of the year, I would be supportive of that … even though it’s a lame-duck session, it is still a Republican president and still a Republican Senate,” Ernst added.
Now, Ernst is probably correct in the brazenness of Republicans’ intentions. Mitch McConnell has already stated he’d back hearings if an opening happened in the election year. This, though, to our knowledge anyway, is the first time a Republican senator has said they’d go through with it during a lame-duck session, even if their party lost the election.
But this is the way you might expect a political scientist or cable news analyst to explain it. Ernst was simply describing the raw power politics of it, not giving an actual explanation as to why it would be justified for her to support a lame-duck nomination, especially after her stance in 2016.