Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Risky GOP Wants Future Pick Over Obama's


And so the theater continues for what conservatism has become in America.

President Obama today announced his nominee to the Supreme Court, and Republicans in Washington have replied, "so what?"

Conservatives say they're not going to vet and vote on Obama's nominee.  Wait until the next president warms up the leather high-back chair in the Oval Office, they're promising.  Then we'll consider the merits of Judge Merrick Garland for The Highest Court in the Land.

What a petulant farce by Republicans.

Our hallowed Constitution, which conservatives claim to so reverently venerate, calls for the president to nominate Supreme Court nominees, and it calls for the Senate to vet and vote on the confirmation of those nominees.

What the Constitution does not do is specify a timeframe within which this process should take place.  So, since Obama is in the final ten months of his lame duck presidency, Republicans publicly professed no intention of moving at all on any nomination he'd make during the remainder of his term.  And that was before Obama announced that his choice is Judge Garland, described as a leftward-tilting political moderate.

Considering how tight the establishment is within the Beltway, Garland's nomination was likely no surprise to anybody but average voters like me.  There's been no cry of foul play by anybody, no ruffling of anybody's feathers, and considering the political power play into which Garland must have known Obama was throwing him, America's elite power brokers all have been pretty sanguine about this.

But don't be fooled!

It's like one big staged act in some tawdry political play, running off-off-off Broadway in some seedy dive theater where the threadbare vellur seats smell of stale popcorn and smoke.

Okay, so Judge Garland is no Antonin Scalia, the celebrated arch-conservative justice whose recent demise created this yawning gap on the Supreme bench.  But what makes conservatives think they'll get a better nominee once Obama leaves office?

If Hillary wins, isn't she likely to nominate somebody far, far left of Garland?

If Trump wins, isn't he likely to nominate his sister, who is pro-choice?

Shouldn't conservatives gladly take what vestages of political moderation they can get at this point?  Shucks, if they really want political theater, they could methodically vet Judge Garland and simply vote him down, since Republicans currently outnumber Democrats in the Senate.  Is even the pretension of doing one's job too onerous a task for modern conservatives?

I thought conservatives love to ridicule the under-worked?  Now they want to be counted among them?

No, they're going to wait until after the fall elections, when the people will help decide who gets to sit on the bench (as if "the people" didn't "decide" when Obama won re-election almost four years ago).

I guess Washington's conservatives are the only ones who haven't heard:  Trump isn't electable.  Hillary is going to sweep up the floor with the GOP this fall, and that will be that.  And even if by some bizarre miracle Trump does win, by some accounts, he owes so much of his political connections to his sister judge, he can't possibly nominate anybody else even if he wanted to.  For all the problems I have with Trump, from what I've heard, he's a very loyal brother to his sister, and frankly, I respect that in him.  But don't think that if you'll like Trump as president, you'll like his sister as a Supreme Court justice.

Not that his sister,  Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, would be the worse choice in the world.  She's fairly moderate, deliberative, hard-working, and widely respected.  Shucks, she was a Ronald Reagan appointee, so she can't be all bad, right?  But she is pro-choice, and since abortion represents the big kahuna of federal issues that ever have or ever will face the Supremes, doesn't that make her unfit in the eyes of conservatives for such an influential position?

Yes, she's almost 80 years old, which, with all due respect for the aged aside, isn't exactly a good age to begin one's tenure in such a demanding position.  Besides, she hasn't even hinted that she'd accept the nomination if her brother offered it to her.  But here's my big point:  If Trump is willing to nominate her, what does that say about his willingness to nominate another pro-choice judge to the Supreme Court?

He tells his supporters that he's pro-life.  But how convenient is that position?  And how temporary?

Instead, shouldn't good conservatives remember these two time-worn axioms?  Don't count your chickens before they're hatched.  And a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.  I guess these old standards are too "establishment" for today's firebrand right-wingers.

If it's a matter of time constraints, and Republicans don't think they have any flexibility in their all-important schedule to squeeze in a quick hearing on Judge Garland, I'm sure all of the far more urgent work those knuckleheads are up to on Capitol Hill will, when finished to perfection, make us gladly forget that they couldn't do anything about Obama's nominee.  But somehow, I doubt that, don't you?

Which brings us back to the question of whether standing on principles regarding any SCOTUS nominee from the current White House occupant is worth the rhetoric, posturing, and partisanship.  And risk.

Isn't it all so silly?  It doesn't help that if the tables were turned, and it was Republicans trying to nominate a SCOTUS justice during the final months of a lame duck presidency, it would be Democrats holding the process hostage until "after the upcoming election."  After all, this has happened before.  A surprising number of times.

Maybe this is simply how gritty politics is done.  But does precedent make it right?  And the GOP, by playing this game, is banking either on some intra-party coup in which Trump is not their presidential nominee, or that Trump can somehow overcome all that he's said and done that makes him inferior to Hillary Clinton, and win in November.

Both scenarios are pretty far-fetched, aren't they?

Meanwhile, Obama could be seen as doing Republicans a favor, and offering something of an olive branch before the Clinton machine returns in full force to the Oval Office.

I simply cannot understand anymore why the GOP keeps shooting itself in both feet, and its hands too boot.  Yeah, I'm mixing metaphors now; but good grief, it's so aggravating.

If right-wingers are angry at "establishment" politicians, the rest of the planet is growing increasingly angry at Republicans in general.  And you know what?  It's all the GOP's own fault.

Sometimes now, I find it hard to grieve for what America is probably going to endure no matter who becomes its next president.  Apparently our Founding Fathers, even if they were more Christian than merely religious, never thought of the possibility that future Americans would worship such dim patriotic nostalgia than the God they've swaddled with the Stars and Stripes.

So we'll see who gets to take the late Justice Scalia's place... after the Obama family has been safely escorted from the Executive Mansion next January.

For an off-off-off Broadway show, this spectacle is going to drag on for an awfully long time.  Probably even longer than partisan conservatives are gambling on today.


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