Perhaps being gracious isn’t such a sin
Currently there is a lot of stink about the Republican proposal to allow the next president the chance to name a replacement for Antonin Scalia. While the Senate has no authority to stop Obama from making recommendations they certainly have the legal authority to ignore his requests. Given some of the names and the rationals for them (“the first (X) on the High Court” is not a qualification in any serious, adult world) I hope the Republicans stick to their guns. Some ask, “But what if Hillary or Bernie win?” Well, then the people have had their say and free stuff is more valuable than selecting decent justices. But the Democrats, for all their frothing at the idea that the Republican Senate might finally show some backbone, are tripping over their own past behavior. I firmly believe that any time McConnell is asked about this issue, he should have a two word answer:
Those words were Obama’s words in 2009 when discussing the economic stimulus package. Rather than be the uniter, rather than come forward with any sort of attempt to reconcile — just three days into his term, on the issue of lowering taxes for those paying the lowest rates, Obama said “I won” and left it at that. This is the sort of mike-dropping, walking off the stage sort of move that is common in a Hollywood production but doesn’t make for good political behavior. (See this politico article for the reference.)
In 2014 the people of America had choices between keeping a Democrat Senate, or flipping to a Republican Senate. The Republicans gained a net of six seats to get to 54 — not filibuster proof (but the Democrats had eliminated the filibuster, so…), but not a minority any more either. The Democrats lost their Senatorial power. McConnell, in a very real way, won. This year more Republicans than Democrats are up and they’re going to try to turn this issue around on them.
It may well backfire, for a big reason: Both Democrat presidential candidates are pro-gun control, Scalia was one of the few to vote for the second amendment in Heller and Macdonald, and any Republican with any bit of sense will play this up any time the issue is raised. Democrats want your guns! Letting them replace Scalia makes this possible!
Schumer also stepped in it. In 2007 it seems he called for no Supreme Court nominations for Bush, except in extreme circumstances. He also said any nominee must show themselves to be in the mainstream by actions, not words — pretty easy to eliminate anyone Obama would nominate that way. Now Schumer is claiming that what he said is being misrepresented but everyone can see that he hoist himself by his own petard and he’s now trying to backpedal.
See, the Democrats have thrived on being jerks — filibustering when in the minority, then crying foul about filibusters when in the majority, being smug and “I won” when tasting victory and calling for compromise when losing, having different standards for dissent depending on the party in charge — and now it’s coming back to bite them and hard.
McConnell damn well better hold the line, and America damn well better make the right choice in 2016. We’ve seen with some of the awful case law in the past decade and change how important keeping the Supreme Court sane is: Kelo, remember, was a 5-4 decision the wrong way, and three of those five still serve (Ginsburg, 82; Kennedy, 79; Breyer, 77 — and all have birthdays between now and January 20th, 2017). The next president could well name four Justices. Either the court shifts left 6-3 (Alito, Thomas, Roberts), or it could shift right 7-2 (Sotomayor, Kagan). Though the latter is almost impossible — Republicans tend to foolishly appoint far more to the left than Democrats do to the right (see Kennedy, Roberts, et al).