Tuesday, February 16, 2016

GOP is Really Outsmarting itself on Scalia's Replacement

They simply aren't thinking this through very deeply.

Even Michael Steele agrees they have handled this wrong. As he says it was disrespectful to Scalia's message to right away declare a blanket opposition to any nominee Obama might nominate.

It's also very dumb strategically to telegraph this blanket opposition. Much smarter would have been to not say too much initially and let the President act first-after all, it's his move next.

Putting themselves out on this limb makes it obvious they aren't acting in good faith. They are sighting this precedent that never existed-that you can't confirm someone in the final year of a Presidency.

Ezra Klein:

"From one angle, Senate Republicans just made a massive mistake. They could have simply waited for President Obama to nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia, drawn out the confirmation process, and then rejected the nominee on ideological grounds months from now."

"But Senate Republicans didn't do that. Instead, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately announced he wouldn't consider any nominee from Obama no matter how qualified, how conservative, or how beloved. What could've been a debate over the noxious liberalism of Obama's choice has now become a debate over the reflexive obstructionism of Senate Republicans."

"What's worse is that McConnell's decision leaves the GOP with few options if their situation deteriorates through the fall. It's entirely possible that six months from now, Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee and Republicans will be in serious danger of losing the Senate. If that happens, Republicans will wish they had cleared the compromise candidate they could have forced on Obama now, rather than watching President Clinton and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer nominate a liberal they can't stand to tip the balance of the Court. McConnell could have left himself that option, but he didn't."

For this reason, there's no need for Obama to put up a moderate or compromise candidate.

But Klein is right I think in arguing that this is all just about the next GOP primary debate.

"From another angle, though, McConnell and the Senate Republicans are doing the obviously rational thing. Most Senate Republicans represent red states, and most of them aren't even on the ballot this cycle. Their proximate fear isn't the general election in 2016, or even the composition of the Supreme Court. As political scientist Dave Hopkins explained on Twitter, it's their next primary election, and the voters in that election would see compromise with Obama as an unforgivable sin, even if it was a wiser strategy:"

"From this perspective, McConnell did the only thing he could do. The optics might be bad, and for conservatives, the eventual outcome might be disastrous, but this was a primary election litmus test, and McConnell needed to make sure his caucus passed it."

So in other words this was nothing but a very short term fix despite an eventual disastrous outcome.

This is the GOP strategy writ large in a nutshell

Meanwhile, the GOP can stall Obama all they want. The fact is the Roberts Court is done. Of course, John Roberts himself is still the Chief Justice, but has lost his ideologically Right wing Court-that voted for Citizen's United and gutting the Voting Rights Act and was about to vote down Obama's climate rules.

If tomorrow there was another Bush-Gore decision to be made, it would go back to a lower, quite possibly liberal court.


  1. Good post. If the Dems reclaim the Senate and keep the wh, it would be a perfect time for older liberals on the court to retire. Put some 30 something liberals on there. Then the conservatives will be at another disadvantage.

    Also I think the rw media is helping them make poor strategic decisions. I bet most establishment rebubs would be happy to see the whole rw media circus die in a trajic freak accident. I keep thinking of the French revolution where the Jacobins kept being pushed to be more radical and uncompromising by the radical newspapers.

  2. Yes, good analogy. Chris Hayes made that point last night-McConnell has to say this as he's reviled by the RW base as a Rino