Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Judge Garland Visits the Senate

Mitch McConnell moved quickly to suspend the Constitution moments after Justice Scalia died. Republican strategists are much better than Democrats at framing issues for public discussion as well as the terms of engagement. The Republican strategists devise the tactics they will employ and then come up with arguments in their favor. Somehow the normal functioning of our federal government -the President nominates a Supreme Court Justice who is considered for confirmation by the Senate - becomes debatable.

We see the tactical advantages of McConnell's first move strategy playing out now in moderate GOP Senators granting interview meetings to the President's nominee. Think of how extraordinary this is. These meetings accomplish absolutely nothing, but the optics of being willing to meet affords Senators Ayotte, Kirk, and the few others whose terms in office may be threatened the appearance of being "bipartisan". If, on the other hand, the Senate had considered the Garland nomination in the usual manner, these so-called moderates would have necessarily joined the majority in approving the nomination. We have come to accept obstruction in the Congress as something that somehow just happens due to a few stubborn leaders rather than as a key element of an ongoing strategy that succeeds because the moderates with the power to oppose that strategy are unwilling to stand up to their leader as a voting bloc. Due to the 60 votes required to break a filibuster, the half dozen moderate Senators would need to break with their own party control of Congress, which is just not going to happen.

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