Monday, April 04, 2016

Will The Republican Party EVER Be Able To Escape Its Own Congenital, Backward-Looking Obstructionism?


On the day Obama announced his nominee to fill Scalia's job was Merrick Garland, we made it clear what our opinion of the nomination is: Yuck! The political gamesmanship yielded up the most conservative nominee a Democrat has proposed to the Supreme Court in many decades. Terrible choice... but politically strategic. Easily, the worst of all outcomes would be that Garland gets confirmed in a lame duck session after a Bernie landslide pulls in a nearly filibuster-proof Democratic Senate that does not include Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Rob Portman (R-OH), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John McCain (R-AZ), Rand Paul (R-KY), Richard Burr (R-NC), and where Alan Grayson has replaced Marco Rubio. That would mean a Senate with 57 Democrats (as long as Vermont replaces Bernie with Peter Welch) and 43 pretty demoralized Republicanos. With Bernie in the White House and a healthy Democratic majority in the Senate, there would be no need to pick a conservative nominee. Even if Clinton wins the White House, she would likely pick a better nominee than Garland, likely nominate outstanding California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu.

But Democratic strategy has been to pressure vulnerable-- and even not-so-vulnerable-- Republicans to give Garland a fair hearing. Mark Kirk already met with him. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski said they will as well. And with editorialists across the country pounding on the GOP for their blatant and ugly obstructionism, even Kansas' Jerry Moran and far right ideologue Ron Johnson indicated that they might be open to a fair process. But then the pressure from the far right started mobilizing and-- poof-- Moran, Murkowski and Johnson instantly caved.

Johnson, who is the most likely Senate Republican to lose his seat in November, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on March 16 that he'd meet with Garland. "I have no problem with meeting with people. I'll have to say, I'm not sure what the point will be." He's since changed his perspective to "no comment." Moran, who has no viable opponent in November, but was blasted by the editors of the Kansas City Star on March 16, has been even worse.
Senators Jerry Moran of Kansas and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have reversed themselves and say they now back the decision made by Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, not to hold hearings.

“Senator Moran called Senator Grassley to discuss his position,” said a statement released by Mr. Moran’s office on Friday. “As Senator Moran has said, he is opposed to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. He has examined Judge Garland’s record and didn’t need hearings to conclude that the nominee’s judicial philosophy, disregard for Second Amendment rights and sympathy for federal government bureaucracy make Garland unacceptable to serve on the Supreme Court.”

Mr. Moran’s announcement, first reported by National Review, came a week after he said the Senate should move forward with the nomination process, including holding hearings and meeting with Judge Garland.

“As I have said since the vacancy was created, I believe I have a duty to ask tough questions and demand answers,” he said in a statement on March 25. “I am certain a thorough investigation would expose Judge Garland’s record and judicial philosophy, and disqualify him in the eyes of Kansans and Americans.”

On March 21, according to the Garden City Telegram, Mr. Moran told constituents, “I would rather have you complaining to me that I voted wrong on nominating somebody than saying I’m not doing my job.”

Similarly, a spokeswoman for Ms. Murkowski, Karina Petersen, said the Alaska senator also no longer supported holding hearings, though she will meet with Judge Garland to discuss cases that are important to her state.

“Senator Murkowski respects the decision of the chair and members of the Judiciary Committee not to hold hearings on the nominee,” Ms. Petersen wrote in an email.

In February, before Mr. Obama named Judge Garland as his pick, Ms. Murkowski told reporters in Alaska that the nominee should be granted a hearing. Though she emphasized, in a Facebook post the next day, that she opposed Mr. Obama’s making the nomination, Ms. Murkowski had declined to directly address her stance on holding hearings since her comments in February.
As the right-wing psychos-- including the Koch brothers' pet congressman Mike Pompeo-- went nuts on Moran's ass, he backed away from even agreeing to meet with Garland. His latest statement, through an aide: "He has examined Judge Garland’s record and didn’t need hearings to conclude that the nominee’s judicial philosophy, disregard for Second Amendment rights and sympathy for federal government bureaucracy make Garland unacceptable to serve on the Supreme Court. Senator Moran remains committed to preventing this president from putting another justice on the highest court in the land."

Just a week earlier Moran told the Dodge City Daily Globe "I think we have the responsibility to have a hearing, to have the conversation and to make a determination of the merit... I think I have the responsibility to consider a nominee presented by a president and make a determination whether he or she is qualified. I'm willing to participate in the process" and had admitted that not meeting with Garland and not pushing for a hearing would be "not doing my job."

You would be severely mistaken if you thought the only thing making the GOP dysfunctional and detrimental to the United States is Donald Trump. The way extremists can push Republican senators like Moran, Johnson and Murkowski around go deeper than Trump's bizarre ego-trip. Political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson in yesterday's NY Times:
Given the current dysfunction of the Republican Party, many both inside and outside Republican ranks are probably hoping that a big defeat will force the party to change. But waiting, as the current president once put it, for the “fever” to break may be fruitless.

Try this setup instead: It’s 2017. After Mr. Trump’s landslide defeat, President Clinton has a Democratic Senate and House of Representatives. The Republican National Committee has just released its latest post-mortem-- it probably looks a lot like the post-2012 soul-searching exercise, the Growth and Opportunity Project, which encouraged moderation in tone and inclusiveness in policy.

But that blueprint is ignored. Instead, the party quickly regroups in opposition to the incoming administration. Most Republican voters hate Mrs. Clinton even more than they hated Mr. Obama. The conservative apparatus for sowing discontent with a new administration is in place, flush with cash and battle-tested.

For Republicans in and outside government, it will be a time not for facing up to hard truths but for doubling down on hardball tactics.

...More worrisome, they reinforce a dangerous spiral. The most effective Republican response to its own unpopularity in presidential elections is to take steps to make the American political system more unpopular still.
The final pre-primary polling for Wisconsin came out a few hours ago by Emerson and it shows that Bernie has surged past the establishment candidate and now leads her by 8 points (51-43%); in Emerson's last Wisconsin poll 2 weeks ago, Hillary was up by 6 points. Nice turn-around, which he'll need to do in New York as well. He's doing his part; are we doing ours? And, you know, it's not enough to support Bernie's bid for the presidency. His political revolution means replacing an obstructionist, corporately-owned Congress with a more progressive one. You can be part of that-- we all can. Whether you give $270 to one candidate or split $27 among all of them, please take a look at these progressives running on Bernie's platform... and do what you can:
Goal Thermometer

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At 11:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've got this absolutely correct: "Easily, the worst of all outcomes would be that Garland gets confirmed in a lame duck session after a Bernie landslide pulls in a nearly filibuster-proof Democratic Senate ... "

That has to be the GOP strategy: dupe Obama into picking a nominee the GOP likes, then wait until after the general election to act. If will be a Dem president, take Garland in the lame duck session. If will be GOP president, wait until after the official start of the neo-fascist's term.

The question then is: IF it will be a Dem president, will the Dems in the senate filibuster Garland in the lame duck session? Of course not.

Another victory for the neo-fascists, deftly engineered by "Democratic" president and senate caucus.

(Don't rule out a 4-year version of this fiasco if a Den is elected president and the GOP retains control of the senate.)

John Puma

John Puma


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