Do you, A) Vote to confirm Trump’s latest Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, because he's the best you’re going to get out of this president?
(After all, even in the unlikely event that this undeniably qualified, completely establishmentarian, lifelong swamp creature is somehow blocked, Trump's next pick won’t exactly be Louis Brandeis come back to life. You raise a mojito to those dear souls waiting for a deus ex machina named Robert Mueller to drive the president from office, but know in your Show-Me State bones that President Mike Pence wouldn't summon the ghost of Earl Warren, either, if he were suddenly in charge of choosing Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s successor.)
You vote yes to keep your seat. To refuse to hand your opponent the weapon he can’t wait to use against you. To preserve your ability to do what you, of course, would naturally see as your best for the people of Missouri.
B) Or do you vote no because you love Roe and Casey more than you love your job? Or because by voting no, you avoid outraging all those Democratic activists who expect you to go down swinging, literally. With abortion rights on the line for real this time, the pro-choice lobby that controls so much in the Democratic Party won’t forgive a yes vote.
Behind Door No. 2 is a lot more campaign cash, among other compensations. True, the result of voting against what the GOP majority in your state wants could also wind up electing your conservative rival, Josh Hawley. But your political funeral will be gorgeous, with many tears and floral tributes. And the base will never forget what you did for them; who are you, again?
As Kavanaugh’s old boss George W. Bush used to say, this is a toughie.
So definitely, you take a minute. You’re going to give this serious question the serious attention it deserves. Maybe you spend a couple of days in the damn lake house the damn Republicans won’t stop babbling about. You reread the insightful recent piece about you in Politico, and wonder why the damn Kansas City Star never shows "surprisingly informal" you appealingly “peppering her thoughts frequently with swear words” in a rented campaign RV that’s “nice enough, equipped with satellite TV for her sister to watch, if not especially glamorous.”
While you stall — er, examine the longtime judge's voluminous record — you form a support group with other Democratic senators in a pickle, like Indiana’s Joe Donnelly and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin. Yes, even though as self-described pro-lifers, their cross-pressures are different, and their calculations will be, too.
Of course, everyone is urging you to vote your conscience.
But do you vote your conscience, which is telling you to vote no, because this Kavanaugh guy’s idea of the common good has nothing to do with your own?
Or do you vote your conscience, which is telling you to vote yes, because no one will ever convince you that you’re not better for Missouri than young Mr. Hawley, with his “fancy” education and two long years in politics?
Do you show you’re authentic by voting the way you’d vote if this were your last day in the Senate?
Or do you show you’re authentic by voting the way you’d vote to make sure it’s not your last term?
It's Hawley's good fortune that the Supreme Court will be a major issue in the campaign. He has no tough choices to make on this issue or any other, as long as he continues to put no distance between himself and Donald Trump.
If you're McCaskill, who made her own luck in her last run, against Republican Todd Akin, you have no gift-wrapped option here. However you vote on Kavanaugh, you’ll be punished at the polls. As usual, the right answer is to follow your conscience. But in this case, I won't pretend to know what that means you should do.