HARRIS MISINFORMED THE PUBLIC REGARDING ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
Julio Gonzalez, M.D., J.D.
At one point during Tuesday night's vice presidential debate, Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate and Senator Kamala Harris gleefully related a story of how Abraham Lincoln faced a late-term vacancy in the Supreme Court with the death of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney. Americans will recall that Taney was the openly racist, Democratic Chief Justice who penned the infamous Dred Scott v. Sandford opinion, largely triggering the Civil War.
According to Harris and The Washington Post in a story to which you can link by visiting our News page, the Supreme Court opening did arise just 27 days prior to the election and President Lincoln did delay nominating a replacement until after the election. But Harris reported, "Honest Abe said 'It's not the right thing to do.'" As it turns out, either Kamala Harris was wrong on this point, or the statement is just another falsity in the long list of lies she delivered to the American public that evening.
Admittedly, the issue of why and whether Abraham Lincoln delayed in nominating a judge to replace Taney is a collateral one, but in this case, it does have some significance in light of the present controversy regarding the appropriateness of a late-term replacement to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. So to have Harris use President Lincoln's actions against the Republican ticket, particularly when Lincoln was the first Republican president could pack a little sting.
So, upon hearing it, not only was my attention piqued by Harris's story, but I was struck by the exuberant degree of enthusiasm with which she delivered it. I was also impressed by the inapplicability of the circumstances. First, President Lincoln was immersed in a Civil War, and although things today are somewhat less than peaceful, we are not yet engaged in a Civil War. Second, I remember thinking that 27 days was a lot less time than the 46 days afforded President Trump by Ginsburg's death. In my mind, twenty-seven days would pose some potentially insurmountable logistical challenges that forty-six days would not. Finally, I concluded that whatever the political calculations Lincoln undertook in his day and age were largely inapplicable to the mechanics of today's circumstances. It should have occurred to me that Ms. Harris was simply misrepresenting her story. I had given her too much credit.
According to The Washington Post, Abraham Lincoln never gave any consideration to the propriety of a late-term appointment. What Lincoln did consider was "receiv[ing] expressions of public opinion from the country," and this was not in the way of ballots. Again, The Washington Post, an organization that is as distant to being a conservative political think tank as the nearest black hole is to us, noted that the President was waiting to hear opinions regarding his selection, which in those days, with the expected delays in mail delivery, would predictably take some time. This is not the situation we face in an age of instantaneous electronic communications. Additionally, President Trump's supporters have already been eyeing Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the seat.
Thus, once again, we arrive at a similar conundrum to the one TheFederalistPages.com identified yesterday, but strikingly different as well: the difficulty the Biden Harris faces in trying to reconcile its prior contrarian views with the positions they tout today. To this, of course, we need to add the looseness in their interpretation of historical precedents to suit their needs.
It really does come back to a point repeatedly expressed by Vice President Pence at numerous points in the debate. You're entitled to your own opinion, Ms. Harris, but you're not entitled to your own facts.
Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopaedic surgeon and lawyer living in Venice, Florida. He served in the Florida House of Representatives. He is the author of numerous books including The Federalist Pages, The Case for Free Market Healthcare, and Coronalessons. He is available for appearances and book signings, and can be reached through www.thefederalistpages.com.
Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopedic surgeon living in Florida. He is a lawyer, author, and former member of the Florida House of Representatives. He is available for speaking engagements at firstname.lastname@example.org