Friday, March 18, 2016

Obama plays 11-dimensional chess with Supreme Court, Republicans look like they could win (again!)

"Judge Garland is the most conservative nominee to the Supreme Court by a Democratic president in the modern era."

- Andrew Napolitano, FOX News commentator (Judge Nap: Garland Is Most Conservative Nominee by a Dem in the Modern Era 03/16/2016)

I know I just used a Cenk Uygur video in my previous post. But Cenk's been on a roll lately. He returned with some grim reflections on Merrick Garland's Supreme Court nomination and Napolitano's praise of him in Napolitano: Merrick Garland Most Conservative Nominee From Democratic President The Young Turks 03/17/2016

Now we're seeing a glimmer of how the GOP could call Obama's supposed bluff:

John Breslin, GOP Senators Begin To Budge On Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee 03/17/2016

Jennifer Bendery, GOP Senator: We Should ‘Man Up And Cast A Vote’ On Obama’s Court Pick Huffington Post 03/18/2016

I recently quoted Jacob Hacker's and Paul Pierson's book Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy (2005). They use the term "cheap moderation" to describe situations just like this, where a Republican has little to lose by voting with the Democrats on something but can be lauded by the press for being statesmanly. If enough Republicans defect on the Garland nomination, we can happy Bipartsanship in which all the Senate Democrats and a few Republicans collaborate to put "the most conservative nominee to the Supreme Court by a Democratic president in the modern era" on the Supreme Court.

Breslin on Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk:

The Illinois Republican is in a tight race with Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D), who is trying to unseat him in November. He’s been trying to cast himself as above politics, and in recent days has been distancing himself from his party leaders’ firm stance on denying Garland hearings.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to comment.
As they have for going on eight years now, Obama loyalists praise moves by Obama like picking "the most conservative nominee to the Supreme Court by a Democratic president in the modern era" as being 'leventy-dimension chess involved an opaque but brilliant serious of shrewd moves to outsmart the Republicans.

Here's an example from Paul Campos, Obama’s gutsy “Godfather” move: Merrick Garland nomination is as big a GOP nightmare as Donald Trump Salon 03/16/2016:

Republican senators have agreed almost unanimously that they won’t consider anyone nominated by Obama this year, on the basis of the constitutional principle (like a lot of GOP constitutional principles, this one isn’t actually in the Constitution, and indeed has heretofore never been enforced, or even articulated) that a president shouldn’t try to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in a presidential election year.

Obama’s nomination puts these senators in a terrible bind. If they carry through with their we-just-made-it-up-on-the-spot principle, and refuse to even give an indisputably moderate nominee such as Garland a hearing, they will look like petty obstructionists to swing voters in their home states (engaging in petty obstruction tends to be the kind of thing that makes you look like a petty obstructionist).

On the other hand, if they relent and hold hearings, the pressure to actually confirm Garland will build, since the only argument against confirming him will be, essentially, that he’s not Antonin Scalia reincarnated.
Or, maybe they'll just decide to approve "the most conservative nominee to the Supreme Court by a Democratic president in the modern era."

As Hacker and Pierson wrote in 2005, these Bipartisan deals "have in recent years almost never gone beyond marginal adjustments to primarily Republican-crafted bills." From which they conclude, "Cheap moderation has its counterpart in cheap bipartisanship."

Lauren French reports for Politico (Black lawmakers irked by Obama's Supreme Court choice 03/17/2016):

Some African-American lawmakers urged their Congressional Black Caucus colleagues to skip a meeting with Valerie Jarrett because of discontent with President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee.

The members are irked by Obama's selection of a moderate judge instead of a progressive who could rally the base, according to three lawmakers and senior aides familiar with the meeting. They also don't think that their input was adequately sought by the administration before Merrick Garland was nominated.

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