My partner Bonnie and I were watching the 9th Republican debate last night. We’re not really sure why. I guess mostly because it was very cold outside, and because there wasn’t anything good on television, and because we wanted to save our Netflix movie for tomorrow night. So there.
After watching the debate, the whole Godforsaken thing, I can only say this: God help us all. And I know, God had nothing to do with it.
There was one decent guy on stage last night, one half-decent guy, and then four despicable morons. The decent guy was John Kasich. He’s a long way from being the kind of candidate I could vote for, but at least he appears to be a relatively decent human being. Jeb Bush is also considerably more decent than the rest of them, but his feud with Donald Trump is almost comical. I get it: these two guys really, really, really don’t like each other.
And the rest of them? I can only repeat myself: God help us all. And I know, God has nothing to do with it.
First of all, in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing, it should be noted that the role of the United States Senate in the appointment of Supreme Court Justice is to offer “advice and consent.” It is not to block and obstruct. The actual text of the U.S. Constitution, as found in Section 2 of Article 2, is this:
[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for.
So, several things should be noted about this passage:
- It provides that 2/3rds approval of the Senate is needed for treaties, but not for Supreme Court appointments, the Senate’s tradition of filibustering notwithstanding;
- It says nothing at all about the President having to refrain from offering a nomination in an election year.
The Republicans, of course, immediately went on the attack, claiming that a Supreme Court justice is “never” appointed and approved in an election year. Which, of course, is false. Republican hero nominated Justice Anthony Kennedy on Nov. 30, 1987, and Kennedy was confirmed on Feb. 3, 1988, in the same year that George H.W. Bush was elected. If Scalia had died in September, then of course one could make a legitimate argument that Obama should hold off making an appointment. But this is February, and there is plenty of time for a Senate confirmation hearing.
The Republicans are already hell bent on blocking any Obama nomination – regardless of how reasonable a candidate he puts forward – because in losing Scalia they are about to lose their rock-solid conservative majority.
Too bad. That’s what happens when you lose Presidential elections.
But the Republicans haven’t been reasonable for a long, long, long period of time. Their obstinacy is going to come back to haunt them, and the 2016 Presidential election would be a good time for that to start.