Saturday, February 13, 2016

In the Wake of Scalia's Death, the GOP Opens its Own Coffin

By Peter Rodman 

As I write this, in the wake of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's death, his body is barely even cold (let alone buried)-- but already, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others are threatening to block any potential Supreme Court nomination by President Obama, preclusively  suggesting, "We should let the new President do it."

Wasn't this President duly elected, and then re-elected (by the largest majority votes in three decades!) precisely to do stuff like this?
It ought to seem utterly shocking that the GOP would attempt to thoroughly disenfranchise this President, except we're used to it by now.  That's been their stated mission since Day One, back in January of 2009.

But to claim that because he's entered the last 25% of his current term, this somehow disqualifies him from executing his Constitutional duty to nominate a new Supreme Court Justice?  That really takes the cake.  

I cannot recall any presidential candidate ever saying, "We're gonna do such-and-such for the next seven years!"
Mitch McConnell~ The Classic Obstructionist

Can you?
Last I looked, Mr. Obama was elected to serve two full terms--totaling eight years in office, as the President of the United States of America--the duties of which clearly include nominating judges to fill any Supreme Court vacancies that might arise. 

Again, that's eight years...not seven!

Check out the latest GOP junior high school 'debate' this very night, and (again, before Scalia's even in the ground) you'll see the hopefuls
lining up in 'lock-step,' to act like denying our current President his constitutional role is somehow "the right thing to do."
...I guarantee it.

They'll all try to outdo each other in the next few weeks, to declare that no nominating process should even begin under Obama.  
And when he finally submits a nominee, in a month or two--a perfectly ordinary thing, for any sitting President to do--these crafty right wingers will paint the nomination itself as 'divisive,' as though President Obama is so illegitimate, he should simply step out of the way, hang his head, and sit on his hands for the next 11 months in office
It's as if they're saying, "You never even belonged there, in the first place."  Hmmm. I wonder why...?

The Republican Senate leaders have the power to block any vote on a new nominee, though it would be outrageous (if not unprecedented) for them to do so.  
I'm already reading online comments from my liberal friends, in despair at the prospect of that scenario.  

...but I say "let 'em."

Because if the Republican Senate succeeds in pushing this issue out into the fall election season, suddenly the whole nation will once again be confronted with just how RADICAL their anti-progress "social" positions are, on the

whole basket of issues the Supreme Court adjudicates: abortion, guns, Planned Parenthood, gay rights, etc
Think about it:
That's the very stuff they've been attempting to *downplay* in recent general elections, as the changing electorate has grown way past the GOP's antiquated views, demographically.

In my opinion, having that discussion--
in effect shining a
bright light on the importance of Supreme Court nominations-- would be an absolute gift any Democratic Presidential candidate could never have anticipated, politically speaking.

It would bring into high relief a dirty little truth, obscured by gerrymandering: 
Republicans have a small minority of support in this nation for their outdated 'social views,' which is literally dying off, day by day.

In fact, even as the GOP's shrinking base has drifted way to the right, the nation itself has become less white, less morally strict, and less conservative. (The only reason the House of Representatives still ends up ruled by the GOP has to do with the above mentioned gerrymandering --which means "drawing up voting districts to isolate your opponents and boost your consituency with contorted maps," designed to magnify your minority.) 
If the Republicans were truly savvy (instead of being perpetually blinded by their unique hatred for this President), they'd actually let Mr. Obama bring a Supreme Court nomination to the Senate floor, before rejecting it out of hand. 
It's the right thing to do.
But I'm betting they won't even wait for that; their blood boils bright red.

Judging by tonight's debate--as well as the statements issued by McConnell and others just moments after the news of Scalia's death broke--the Republicans seem united in their resolve to once again block this President from doing his job.
Not only is this a stark reminder of their ongoing intransigence (at a time when they didn't need it), but it's also a clear reminder to the voters, of just how badly we need to avoid having Republicans pick 'conservatives' to direct the highest court vacancies, for a nation much more liberal now, than they are.

All the focus this fall will now be on their outdated "moral" views, left over from the Nixon era...and I suspect America will respond accordingly, at the ballot box.
The way I see it, that would be a win-win...not just for the Democratic Party, but for the nation at large, which long ago moved into the 21st century.

This opinion column is Copyright 2016 by Peter Rodman.  All Rights Reserved.

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