Maybe we’d better refrain from having any new opinions until after the election.
Follow the leader. Mitch McConnell says the Senate shouldn’t do anything about the U.S. Supreme Court’s vacancy as long as Barack Obama is president. Not even go through the motions of pretending to think about it. We’ve hit a whole new level in the politics of obstruction.
Why stop there? For the next 11 months it’s probably better if we let everything go except for the purchase of food staples.
Don’t even bother to fake it. Virtually every Republican with a job more elevated than zoning commissioner thinks the best thing to do with any Supreme Court nomination is to act as if it isn’t there, like a wad of gum on the sidewalk.
“Delay, delay, delay!” cried Donald Trump at the last debate. Some listeners might have presumed he was calling for the return of the former House majority leader who resigned during a campaign finance scandal and later rehabilitated himself by doing the cha-cha on “Dancing With the Stars.” Exactly the kind of guy Donald Trump would like. But in this case he was talking about stonewalling any Supreme Court nomination.
“If I were president … I guess I’d put in a name,” Trump admitted in a phone call to Stephen Colbert. This is extremely mild language for the leading Republican presidential candidate. Normally you’d expect Trump to say something like: “If I were president I’d nominate somebody who would scare the hell out of them. Putin! I’d nominate Putin. And then they’d be so nervous that they’d let me have anybody I wanted, which of course would be Sarah Palin.”
People, do you remember what Mitch McConnell used to say when he was the powerless Senate minority leader? Of course you don’t. There’s just so much stuff that fits into a human brain and no reason whatsoever that McConnell should be taking up space.
He used to say that when Republicans got control, democracy and venerable tradition would rule. No more of those sneaky tricks that his predecessor Harry Reid used to keep the other side’s ideas from coming up for a vote: “The answer is to let folks debate, to let the Senate work its will.” He had a vision of a deliberative body that argued so long and hard that eventually all the Democrats would collapse from exhaustion and he, Majority Leader Mitch, would walk over their prostrate bodies to principled victory.
That was the good old days. We remember them with nostalgia, like the golden era when members of both parties drank in the same bars. Now apparently the Senate can’t even be trusted to hold a committee hearing.
“We’re not moving forward on it, period,” said Sen. Marco Rubio. He used to be regarded as the most rational person in the Republican presidential field. That was just because we hadn’t had time to get acquainted yet.
If you want to understand why the Republicans are broadcasting their commitment to obstructionism, it’s useful to take a look at Rubio’s campaign. Given the tenor of our times, it’s natural that all the candidates would depict Barack Obama as the worst thing that’s happened to America since … oh, I don’t know. Pearl Harbor? The Panic of 1837? But Rubio also insists that the president has been ruining the country on purpose: “All this damage that he’s done to America is deliberate.”
This is a theory, much loved on talk radio, that involves an insidious presidential plot to make America just a run-of-the-mill country — smaller and weaker and burdened with universal health care. When things go wrong it isn’t because of ineptitude. It’s a careful Obama scenario aimed at bringing the country down. A man that sinister can’t be allowed to even put a nomination into play. God knows what would happen. Close your eyes and pretend he isn’t there.
Ben Carson made the same point in his traditional way — that is, in language that made no sense whatsoever: “It is imperative that the Senate not allow President Obama to diminish his legacy by trying to nominate an individual who would carry on his wishes to subvert the will of the people.”
Ted Cruz vowed to filibuster any attempt by the Senate to vote on a nominee. Because filibuster is, you know, what Ted Cruz does. Just put your hands over your ears and hum very loudly until you get your way.
And Jeb Bush … OK, we don’t need to talk about Jeb Bush. This is the man who recently tweeted a picture of a handgun with his name engraved on it, over the title “America.” The only good thing you can say for his campaign is that he did not send out a video called “It’s Morning Again in America” that opens with footage of Vancouver. That was Marco Rubio.