This put Gorsuch in a bit of pickle: If he chastised the president, he could find himself reduced to the status of “so-called” judge; if he didn’t, he’d be excoriated for spinelessness at his confirmation hearing.
But Neil Gorsuch believes that when life gives you lemons, you should avoid assisted suicide. And so the judge used Trump’s comments as an opportunity to establish his independence from the unpopular president — and, thereby, make it a little more difficult for Democrats to obstruct his nomination.
In a meeting with Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, Gorsuch described Trump’s comments as “demoralizing” and “disheartening.” Ron Bonjean, a White House advisor, subsequently confirmed that Gorsuch had, indeed, made those comments.
And this approach seemed to strike a deft political balance: On the one hand, Gorsuch hadn’t let the president’s attack on the judiciary slide; on the other, he hadn’t criticized Trump in public. Without video of Gorsuch’s reprimand, cable news was unlikely to give the remarks wall-to-wall coverage.
And then, on Thursday morning, the president signed onto Twitter.
The president’s case here is airtight: Richard Blumenthal once apologized for saying that he had served “in Vietnam,” when, in fact, the senator had merely served as a Marine Corps Reserve during the Vietnam War, but was never sent overseas. By contrast, the president spent his Vietnam fearlessly weathering round after round of unprotected sex. Therefore, both Blumenthal and Bonjean are lying. After all, why would a federal judge complain about the president characterizing the judiciary as a national security threat?
Alas, shortly after Trump’s tweets, a Republican senator from Nebraska gave the president some Sasse.
Minutes later, Trump turned his attention to another man whose Vietnam-era service he disdains. Earlier this week John McCain had described the raid of a Yemeni compound that the president ordered — which killed one Navy SEAL, many civilians, but not the terrorist it had been launched to target — as a “failure.”
You’re going to get so sick of winning.