This time they meant it. Oh yes, they were serious. You could see it in Mitch McConnell’s face. They stood up there in front of the country and promised that they would not let President Obama replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Republicans would wait to see how the election went in November, and they would leave it to the next president to fill Scalia’s conservative seat.
Did anyone really believe it? Even for a second?
Well, we’ll soon get to see if Republicans have magically grown a spine over the last couple of months. According to White House officials, Obama may announce his nominee within a week’s time; some expected a name as early as Tuesday. And it’s clear that the president is playing political hardball, passing on the opportunity to turn Scalia’s seat over to a raging liberal for the greater pleasure of pushing the Senate into a corner.
According to those in the know, Obama has narrowed his choices down to three strong possibilities: Sri Srinivasan, Merrick Garland, and Paul Watford, all of whom are federal judges who have been through the confirmation process. Watford is the closest to a liberal, but all three have judicial histories that suggest moderate political stances. Republican backbone aside, they will have a tough decision to make if Obama nominates one of these selections. Do they confirm a less-than-ideal judge…or take the chance of giving Hillary Clinton a much more political nominee?
Liberal activists are gearing up for a fight. From the New York Times:
“If the only way to get Republicans to cry uncle and hold a fair process is to demonstrate that they will go down in flames in November if they don’t, we are more than happy to oblige,” said Brad Woodhouse, the president of Americans United for Change, one of the organizations leading the effort.
Might as well save your breath and your money, Mr. Woodhouse. The usual mass media cabal has been steadily hammering Republicans for their inflexible attitude towards an Obama nominee, and it’s bound to force them down the same path of retreat they have worn down to the dirt. As soon as the polls turn against them – and they already have – they’ll crack under the pressure. These Republicans will fight Trump no matter how high his numbers go, but when it comes to Obama, their political will is as fragile as glass.
Here’s the pathetic part. Mitch McConnell didn’t need to come out with that hardline stance. It would have been so much smarter to simply tell the president to go ahead and make a nomination and then draw out the process without all of the ridiculous posturing. Instead, they went back to their usual playbook of big talk followed by predictable surrender. The worst thing about these Republicans isn’t their questionable standards of honor; it’s their utter incompetence.