Why did the president waste Merrick Garland’s time with this nomination?
The GOP majority of the U.S. Senate has been painfully clear about its planned obstruction; braying for weeks that it will give nary a hearing to whomever Barack Obama nominates to the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Wednesday was a sad day in America. Live from the White House, there was the president pleading with the U.S. Senate to play fair. Our esteemed Congress needs admonishment usually reserved for kindergartners.
“I hope they are fair,” Obama said, with the federal appeals court judge Garland at his side.
And Obama knew it was a fruitless request.
The nomination of Garland is going nowhere. Republican senators doubled down within minutes of the conclusion of the presser, reiterating their blockade. There was Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri flat out saying he wouldn’t consider giving Garland a vote.
From across the state line came Sen. Pat Roberts, who tried to spin his opposition as a way to allow the voting public a say; negating the fact that Obama was elected by the people. Roberts is among the seven U.S. senators still in office who helped confirm Garland as a federal judge, according to the Washington Post.
Sen. Mitch McConnell used Twitter to say that he’d personally tell Garland that it’s not about him, then blamed Obama for politicizing the nomination.
Well, that took gall to allege. Obama could have nominated someone far more fitting to his ideologies; not the moderate Garland. He could have gone off his dream team; maybe nominating an African American woman.
Instead, he went with the solid moderate white male to complete a bench evenly divided between liberal and conservative voices.
As condescending as it sounds, the tag that the National Organization for Women quickly pronounced on the federal judge is the most apt. NOW called Garland “a real nowhere man.” Part of the concern is his lack of a record on reproductive rights.
But that’s also why, in a better moment in time, he could be a candidate approved by all sides.
Instead, Garland is a sacrificial lamb. His stellar vitae of public service was placed upon the altar of the American political system circa 2016 and set ablaze. The phrase “with all due respect” should precede casting what sounds like aspersions at Garland.
He appeared poised, proud, the perfect gentleman at the announcement, a moment that should have signaled a well-earned peak moment in his career. Instead, it will go down as an example of the depths the republic has sunk.
Consider the message the senators’ responses send to men and women who, like Garland, have selflessly chosen public service when their skills and talents could have drawn them far more plentiful salaries in the private sector.
Garland is 63 years old. After graduation from Harvard law, he spent several years in private practice. But he stepped away from the perks and profits of a bigger law firm and joined the U.S. Justice Department.
There, he eventually led the investigation of infamous domestic terrorists: the Unabomber and Timothy McVeigh for the Oklahoma City bombing.
Garland, at the announcement, commented, “A life of public service is as much a gift to the person who serves as it is to those he is serving.” You got the impression that he meant it. Those weren’t pretty words for a press conference; they’re how he’s lived his life.
But this isn’t Garland’s moment, at least not in the way he deserves it to be.
No, right now in U.S. politics, qualifications don’t matter. Long records of measured wisdom don’t matter. Not even the stagnation of the U.S. Supreme Court is a concern.
Instead, the ploy is emasculating Obama for perceived political gain. What a dangerous game the senators are playing. The stakes are too high and they have sunk too low.