Webb’s Wrap: Judiciary vote today . . . debate tonight . . . AG hopefuls sling some mud . . . Romney considering independent effort?

Two big national events today: The Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Judge Amy Coney Barrett at about 11 a.m. Utah time, and the presidential debate in the evening.

Democrats are going to boycott the committee meeting, meaning Barrett will likely get a 12-0 vote from Republicans and the nomination will be sent to the full Senate for a Monday vote. Barrett will likely be sitting on the Supreme Court by the middle of next week and the court will have a clear conservative majority.

That’s a very good thing, in my opinion. But it’s not going to be as earthshattering as the partisans on either side might lead us to believe, and it will take time to see how things shake out. I expect a solid, thoughtful court that will make incremental change.

Another debate debacle? I’m not really looking forward to the Trump/Biden debate. I fear it will quickly devolve into a lot of unpresidential behavior. I hope I’m wrong. The question is whether Trump can be disciplined and focused and keep the spotlight on his strengths. Or will he veer off into personal attacks and trading insults with Biden.

And can Biden talk coherently for two whole minutes on each question without a teleprompter?

Democrats will cry foul if Trump brings up the unfolding questions surrounding Hunter Biden making millions of dollars off his connection to the then-vice president. But that has become a legitimate issue, and Biden should forthrightly deny or confirm the emails and meetings in question.

Attorney general mudfest. This was Utah’s most acrimonious debate of the season, even more so than the 4th Congressional District debate. Both incumbent Republican Sean Reyes and Democratic challenger Greg Skordas are good candidates and good debaters. Both have many years of relevant experience.

Right from the debate outset, they called each other liars and clashed on many issues. Skordas questioned Reyes’ ethics and Reyes hit back with comments from Skordas’ clients who were critical of his representation.

I would call the debate a draw, and that’s not good for Skordas, who needed a knockout. It’s exceptionally difficult for a Democrat to win statewide unless the Republican candidate is clearly incompetent or a crook. Skordas punched hard, but didn’t deliver a haymaker.

Good Reads. Why pack the court? I doubt many Utah Policy readers support packing the U.S. Supreme Court. But it’s good to understand the thinking and motivation of those who DO want to expand the number of justices if Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed and if the Democrats take over the presidency and the Senate. Read this article by Elie Mystal, justice correspondent for the The Nation, a liberal magazine. He lists all of the issues at stake in the liberal agenda, and says, “Expanding the court now-through raw political power, if necessary-is the best way to reform and depoliticize the court for future generations. Expanding the court is the way to save it. It’s a lot like breaking a bone to reset the leg.”

An article in The Economist outlines the dueling medical and scientific opinions on whether lockdowns work best to fight COVID-19, or whether the virus should be allowed to spread among the young and healthy, while protecting the vulnerable. It’s the Great Barrington Declaration vs. the John Snow Memorandum, each signed by thousands of scientists and medical experts.

Parting Shot. Is Mitt Romney thinking about a third party or some sort of independent movement? In a recent tweet, he blasted Trump and both political parties, saying: “As the parties rush down a rabbit hole, they may be opening a door to a political movement that could eventually eclipse them both.” That sounds like a hint or a threat. Trouble is, many very capable people have tried to capture the moderate middle of the country’s voters – and have failed. Third parties and independent movements have quickly become irrelevant. Perhaps if Romney could raise half a billion dollars and get some really big names, he could make a dent in the two-party dominance. But it would be very difficult.

If you have a comment, an item you think should be publicized, or just want to tell me I’m an idiot, shoot me a message at [email protected].