Thursday, March 17, 2016
The Inconvenient President
It seems that whenever Mitch tries to talk tough, Obama has a way of undermining his authority. Not much surprise the President has done it again, nominating a potential Supreme Court Justice that cleared the Senate with a 3/4 majority back in 1997. when the Republicans similarly ruled Congress.
Merrick Garland isn't going to set the world on fire. He is about as centrist as you can get, which is why Bill Clinton then and Barrack Obama now see him as the perfect justice to present before a partisan Congress. I had hoped Obama would have gone with Sri Srinivasan, who also has a moderate background but a much higher profile and would help balance the court a bit more in terms of the ethnic diversity of this country. But, I suppose age was a factor. Srinivasan is 49 and can be seen by incalcitrant Republicans as a means of stacking the deck. Garland is 63 and not someone who has the potential of sitting on the bench for three decades.
It is now the Republicans' call. Already, there are defections. No less than eight Republicans have said they will meet with Garland, putting Mitch and his judiciary committee chairman Chuck Grassley in a bit of a bind. Both voted against Garland the first time around, so it is not likely they are going to change their minds on him. However, they will have a hard time convincing other Republicans to toe the line as 24 GOP Senators are up for re-election, many of them in Blue states whose constituents won't look too kindly on more Congressional stonewalling. Also, Mitch and Chuck will have a hard time explaining to an anxious electorate that their potential GOP nominee, Donald J. Trump, would make a better choice.
It's been a rough year for the Senate Leader. He has been outsmarted at virtually every turn by the President. and pursued yet another attempt to kill Obamacare when it was clear to everyone he didn't have the numbers to overturn a veto. His authority has been called into question by Ted Cruz, among others. He may turn out to be the lamest of lame Senate Leaders since Trent Lott, who presided over the Senate during Bill Clinton's last term of office. Even Trent was smart enough to know when not to challenge the Constitution, which Mitch has done by vowing to close the Senate to any Obama Supreme Court nominee.
You may ask how someone can be so stupid? It seems the only thing Mitch is good at is getting himself re-elected in the Bluegrass State, which doesn't seem to be particularly discerning when it comes to its Congressional representatives, largely because so few Kentuckians turn up to vote. Only 28 per cent turned out to vote in 2014 when Mitch won his hotly contestested re-election bid over Allison Grimes. In last year's governor's race, only 16 percent of voters showed up on election day. It's like Kentuckians don't give a shit about anything. So, you get what you deserve.
Unfortunately, Mitch has been able to rise through the ranks of the Senate to become the Republican leader, largely as a result of attrition. His predecessors, Trent Lott and Bill Frist both stepped down amidst scandals, and it seemed like no one else wanted the job, except maybe Ted Cruz but no one wanted him. Mitch has been around since 1985. Only a handful of Senators have been there longer than him, and Orrin is looking a bit old these days, although he still likes to flatter himself.
However, Orrin and others will be hard pressed to make excuses as to why not to consider Merrick Garland. After all, Orrin once said there was no question Garland could be confirmed to the Supreme Court. Other Republicans appear to share his same opinion. So, how are they now going to explain to their constituents that DC Appeals Court Justice Garland is not fit to be a Supreme Court Justice?
Mitch, you should have thought of this before making your bold pronouncement following Justice Scalia's death. We all know you and other conservatives were broken up by the untimely loss of your beloved Justice, but even Scalia would have wanted you guys to uphold the Constitution, not turn it into Congressional toilet paper.