Since the death last Saturday of conservative Supreme Court justice and “shin kicker” Antonin Scalia, Senate Republicans have lined up to announce their intent to resist President Barack Obama’s constitutional obligation to nominate his successor. But Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes indicated Tuesday that he opposed their obstructionism, via his personal attorney Peter Johnson Jr.
“I think Republicans have to recalibrate immediately. When you make a mistake, say you made a mistake,” said Johnson Tuesday in an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. “The Republicans need to step it back at this point,” he said.
Johnson’s comments are key in understanding the Republican establishment, which has found itself sidelined by the lackluster campaigns by Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and plenty of others, all the rest of whom have since ended their bids for the Republican nomination. Johnson, in addition to being Ailes’s personal attorney, is frequently called upon to articulate views identical to those of his boss. “He is a fixture in Ailes’s office,” one Fox source told New York Magazine in a 2012 interview.
“It’s not smart, it’s not good for our future, its not good for our governance, and its not good for the notion that this government is responsive to the needs of the people,” Johnson continued to Carlson.
Since the interview, a couple crucial Senate voices have said they wouldn’t automatically oppose any potential Supreme Court nomination. “I would wait until the nominee is made before I would make any decision,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley during a conference call with Iowa radio reporters on Tuesday. “In other words, take it a step at a time.” He had previously said that it was “standard practice” not to nominate or confirm candidates for the Supreme Court in an election year.
North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis also urged cautiousness in blocking any Obama nominee automatically. “I think we fall into the trap if [we] just simply say, sight unseen, we fall into the trap of being obstructionists,” Mr. Tillis said on another radio show. But he still inveighed the threat of blocking Obama’s nomination under certain circumstances. “If he puts forth someone that we think is in the mold of President Obama’s vision for America, then we’ll use every device available to block that nomination.”
More Republicans may see the sense in Roger Ailes’s — ahem, Peter Johnson’s — views. So far, a campaign year fueled by anti-establishment sentiment has flaunted the wishes of everyone: first, President Obama, and now, the personal attorney of the Chairman and CEO of Fox News.