In the wild and whirling age of Donald Trump, President Barack Obama went for stable, sober and conventional.And so on, but you guys know all this, right?
Obama's pick of Judge Merrick Garland for the vacant Supreme Court seat Wednesday was an intriguing multi-layered move in his last great showdown with Republicans that comes at a time of volatile political upheaval.
His selection demonstrates cold-eyed calculation and represents a clear case of Obama calling the Republicans' bluff after its leaders made clear they would refuse to consider his nominee whomever it turned out to be.
So let's see how it's playing out in Pennsylvania Senatorial politics.
First the statement from Senator Pat Toomey:
With the U.S. Supreme Court's balance at stake, and with the presidential election fewer than eight months away, it is wise to give the American people a more direct voice in the selection and confirmation of the next justice. Should Merrick Garland be nominated again by the next president, I would be happy to carefully consider his nomination, as I have done with dozens of judges submitted by President Obama.That first phrase tells you all you need to know. It's about protecting the conservative majority on the Court. Sorry, Senator. That's not your responsibility. Presidential elections have consequences and one of them is that the winner (and by my count it's Obama-2, Republicans-0) of the Presidential election gets to shape the court as he or she sees fit.
Now if you'd said, "With a Senatorial election fewer than eight months away, it is wise to give the people of Pennsylvania a more direct voice in the confirmation process and so I'll not participate in the proceedings at all." At least I could respect your logical consistency.
But Barack Obama was elected (twice!) and as such his constitutional duties last all the way until the next president is sworn in. He's doing his job.
Why won't you?
Toomey's opponents have responded as well. First Katie McGinty:
It didn’t take long for Pat Toomey to announce he would oppose President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.And Joe Sestak:
Just as fast, Katie McGinty is taking to the airwaves with a new TV ad hitting the Senator for obstruction.
The thirty-second spot, titled “Do Your Job”, is taken from McGinty’s statement at last month’s Progressive Summit.
“In Pat Toomey’s obstructionism, what we see is a deliberate effort to try to make the Supreme Court an extension of republican partisan politics – to take away a woman’s right to choose, to take away health care, to take away the right to collectively bargain for a living wage, for decent benefits,” McGinty states. “We cannot let Pat Toomey win, and with your help, I will not let him win.”
With so many pressing issues before the Court like the Voting Rights Act, protecting women’s right to choose, reversing Citizens’ United and affirming the need to regulate polluters, it is time for Pat Toomey to abandon his obstructionist tactics of ‘delay and deny’ and fulfill his duty to the people of Pennsylvania by agreeing to at the very least consider the qualifications of Judge Merrick Garland.Aye. But that's exactly the problem, isn't it? He's obstructing for a reason - or two.
NOTE: I was not able to track down a quote from yesterday (Note to any Fetterman folks watching: You can email it to me if there is one) so here's what he said a few weeks ago:
The self-serving negligence we are seeing from the GOP is the reason everyone hates Congress, and is simply disrespectful to the American people. So which is it, Sen. Toomey: will you do your job, or choose partisanship over patriotism?Senator Toomey, do your job.