Tip of the hat to Jeffrey Toobin, whose brief New Yorker essay on McCain’s judges’ speech cracked the code. Toobin tells his readers that McCain may have “hoped” to “sneak the speech past a distracted public, and have its coded references deciphered only by the activists who were its primary target.” These right-wing activists are, according to Toobin, a “small” and “shrinking” group and, what’s even worse, “on the wrong side…of history.”
I will venture a guess: very few of Toobin’s conservative nuts actually read The New Yorker. And so they do not realize that they have been pandered to. In McCain’s Wake Forest speech they noticed, along with some very fine general reflections on conservative judging, that McCain spoke — unrepentantly — of his membership in the Gang of Fourteen. They notice that he held up Roberts and Alito as his model judges, and not Scalia or Thomas. They noticed also that McCain recalled his votes for Ruth Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer to the high Court. He was unrepentant about that too.
Many if not most of these folks remain skeptical of McCain on judges. I am not so skeptical and wish they would change their minds. I have even offered some reflections (right here on Benchmemos) to help them see the light. But now I see the light: I need say no more than, “read Jefffrey Toobin in The New Yorker.” He seems to know something about pandering which the rest of us do not.