I’ve resisted the urge to write anything about the dearly departed Antonin Scalia, in no small part because I’ve learned that it really isn’t nice to speak ill of the dead, but I don’t really know what nice thing I’d say about a guy who once argued that demonstrating innocence was not enough to save somebody from execution. People liked him personally, I guess, so that’s nice. Presumably none of them had their lives materially harmed by his jurisprudence, but still.
Anyway, I also don’t really know what to say about the Republicans’ immediate refusal to even acknowledge the nominee whom Barack Obama is constitutionally required to name as Scalia’s replacement. And that is what they’re doing:
Senate Republicans are saying that they won’t even meet with an Obama nominee, which is even more dickish than refusing to hold hearings. This is obviously a dereliction of their responsibilities in the service of pure, naked partisan politics, but it’s only the latest and arguably most egregious example in a long tendency for Congressional Republicans to put their party first. Now Mitch McConnell is apparently refusing to say that he’ll allow the next president to get a hearing on a nominee, which exposes all his “the American people should have a say in the process” bullshit for what it is and would, in that case, truly be a remarkable choice of ideology over country.
What is more interesting to me is that the Republicans have chosen to do this in such a brazenly obstructionist way. It was entirely within their power and rights to reject an Obama nominee through the normal selection process, and they could have rejected that hypothetical nominee for any reason. But now they’re making a huge public thing about not even meeting with a nominee, and thereby inviting all sorts of appropriate criticism. This means that the idea of even acknowledging an Obama nomination is so hateful, so toxic to the Republican base that these Republican senators would rather look like obstructionist zealots than take another, quieter path that would still end with them denying Obama his choice for the court.
The Republican Party survives entirely on rage and conspiracy theories these days, and rather than try to right that ship Republican politicians would rather go along with the madness, to cultivate it for electoral gain. Yet these same Republican senators will almost to a person wonder how it can be that their party is about to nominate Donald Trump, a guy who talks about punching protesters in the face, as their presidential candidate. Yeah, it’s a real mystery.
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