NEWS AND OPINION:
News organizations went into immediate speculation mode upon hearing that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer was retiring. Eager journalists connected all the dots and concluded that Vice President Kamala Harris was the likely pick to replace the outgoing justice, citing the fact that President Biden previously vowed that he would nominate a Black woman for the high court.
Some coverage, however, discounted the idea that Mr. Biden would nominate Ms. Harris for the role. It was an “unlikely theory” said Yahoo News while the Daily Beast deemed the idea “wild speculation.”
At the moment, the vice president is due in Honduras to attend the inauguration of the nation’s President-elect Xiomara Castro on Thursday. The two have pledged to “advance economic growth, combat corruption, and address the root causes of migration,” according to Sabrina Singh, deputy press secretary for the vice president, in a statement.
Amid all the speculation about the Supreme Court, some choose to confront a different reality.
“President Biden has promised to only appoint justices who support abortion on demand through birth. Should he follow through on this promise, we will vigorously oppose the president’s nominee,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a national grassroots pro-life organization.
“The news of this vacancy comes as we await the Court’s ruling in Dobbs this summer followed by the pivotal midterm elections. The stakes have never been higher in the fight to secure legal protections for unborn children and return the issue back to the people to decide through their elected representatives, not unelected judges,” Ms. Dannenfelser noted.
‘RED-HANDED’ RULES THE ROOST
The public must be very interested.
Here’s a brief update on a new book published 48 hours ago: “Red-Handed: How American Elites Get Rich Helping China Win” by Peter Schweizer is now No. 1 on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
REPUBLICANS: WHAT ARE THEY GOOD FOR?
Significant polling consistently suggests that the Republican Party is now enjoying some uncommon popularity with voters that could pay off handsomely when the midterm elections roll around 10 months from now.
One close observer has some practical advice for Republicans: Prepare to do something significant, right wrongs, help working-class voters and better the condition of the nation.
“Republicans cannot simply rally voters with a promise not to make it worse. Republicans cannot, in other words, do what they have largely always done with a Senate majority: set it on a shelf, polish it, and admire it from afar while checking off a Beltway-driven agenda designed solely to protect incumbents,” wrote Rachel Bovard, a senior columnist for The Federalist.
“Rather, a majority must be used. Not only for the purpose of giving new GOP voters a reason to stay, although that is a benefit, but because it’s the right and urgently necessary thing to do,” she advised.
“If Senate Republicans cannot find it in them to stand up for their voters now, when the stakes are so perilous and the moment so fraught, then what are they good for?” Ms. Bovard later concluded.
THE FRAIL GOP ADVANTAGE
There are other reasons why Republican lawmakers need to polish up their good intentions, shore up their political mission and put some muscle into their public outreach. Their advantage over Democrats is not minimal, it is frail and subject to change.
“Few Americans believe that either political party truly cares about the average family’s pocketbook. Specifically, just 23% say the Democrats in Congress are very concerned with looking out for the economic well-being of average Americans,” reports a new Monmouth University poll released Wednesday.
“The public is almost evenly split between saying they would rather see the Republicans (35%) or the Democrats (33%) in control of Congress. However, pushing those who initially say party control does not influence which direction they lean adds 15% to the GOP column versus a smaller 10% for the Democrats. Just over half of the public (54%) says it is very important to have their preferred party in control of Congress. This number is slightly higher among those who want to retain Democratic control (61%) than among those who want a change to Republican control (56%),” the analysis said.
And, oh yes. The poll reveals that just 19% of the public approves of the job Congress is doing.
The survey of 794 U.S. adults was conducted Jan. 20-24.
TODAY’S BRIEF DIVERSION
National Trust Tours — a division of the National Trust for Historic Preservation — has announced an unusual trip, and here it is.
“Cruise all five Great Lakes by 5-Star small ship!” the organization says in a new outreach, advising that the emphasis is on maritime history, unspoiled beauty, North American innovation and historic charm.
Milwaukee, Mackinac Island, Sault Ste. Marie, Tobermory, Detroit, Niagara Falls and Toronto are among the stops.
The ship in question is the 430-foot M.S. Dumont D’Urville — which has 92 deluxe cabins and represents “a new generation of unprecedented design, technology, and standards in comfort and elegance, and caters to the most discerning passengers.”
Find the details at NationalTrustTours.com
POLL DU JOUR
• 72% of Americans have worn a face mask when outside of their homes in the past seven days.
• 56% have avoided large crowds in the past seven days.
• 46% have avoided traveling by plane, bus, subway or train in that time period.
• 41% have avoided public places in the past week in that time period.
• 34% have avoided small gatherings in that time period.
Source: A Gallup poll of 1,569 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 3-14
• Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.