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Unitary Executive Won't Win the Filibuster Debate

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I've seen a lot about written today referencing the "unitary executive" line of argument that some have put out as our saving grace in the battle to take down Alito.

The crux of the problem with this line of argument is that it ISN'T the language that everyone is using. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that if you polled the American public today and asked them if they even knew what the phrase unitary executive means, fewer than 2% of the country would have a clue what you're talking about. (Remember, in aggregate the left wing blogs speak at most to 0.3% of the total U.S. population.) If you have to spend half of your money opposing a nominee just explaining what your rationale is, you're doomed from the start.

And therein lies the problem, and John's point in his filibuster post below. In order to say you're taking a principled stand against something, and taking the extraordinary step of filibustering a Supreme Court nominee, you best not bring a knife to a gun fight. Twisted legal theories like "unitary executive" are meaningless to average Americans - unless you spend $30-40 million trying to explain yourself to the American people. Absent that size and scale voter education effort, you're just shooting blanks.

Moreover, that won't even move a single vote in the Senate. What moves votes in the Senate? Fear of voters' retribution when they find out what a vote for Alito means. You want to bring the gun to the gunfight? That's what you needed. You needed a public pressure campaign on people like Olympia Snowe and Lincoln Chafee - they shouldn't even have their seats in the first place given the overwhelming support Democrats have in their states. Unless and until you have the TV ads and money available, ready to spend LITERALLY millions of dollars running ads saying that Olympia Snowe is going to be THE DECIDING VOTE on whether Roe v. Wade is overturned, you're not going to win.

And we can't even agree whether we would even run with the Roe v. Wade argument as the lead argument. You know, the one that John points out the American people agree with us on?

This is a very heated discussion, and understandably so given what's at stake. John has clearly agitated things here, but the reality is the discomfort should be felt in the strategy offices of leading Democrats and issue groups. It's their failure that should be the recipient of our collective anger.

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