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The Republican Party's Idiotic Stand on the Supreme Court
When it comes to national politics for at least the past decade, the Republican Party has been absolutely terrible, and they're once again demonstrating exactly why they're the stupid party. When Republicans announced that they would not even consider any nomination Obama makes for the Supreme Court after Justice Antonin Scalia's death they created yet another divisive issue for the 2016 campaign season.
The issue is not so much that Obama has the authority to nominate someone to the position, because nobody disputes this. The Constitution does not say that the president may nominate a Supreme Court justice unless it's their last year in office. The issue isn't that the Senate has every right to reject the president's nominee, because nobody disputes that either. It isn't even that Democrats have hypocritically taken the opposite position that they're taking now when it was a Republican president trying to nominate a justice in the last year of their second term. The issue is simple political calculation, and outright saying that you won't consider Obama's nomination under any circumstances is a stupid one.
Now there's absolutely nothing wrong with knowing privately that you won't really consider a lame duck president's Supreme Court nominee, but taking that position publicly doesn't play with anyone beyond your own political base. Republican voters are happy about the decision, but independents and moderates will be turned off by it.
So Obama did the only thing a person of moderate intelligence could possibly do in such a situation and nominated someone, Merrick Garland, that Republicans, under any other circumstances, would be more than happy to accept from a Democratic president, and will sit back and watch as Democratic candidates at all levels bludgeon their Republican opponents over the issue.
At the very least Republicans needed to pretend that they would consider Obama's nominee, because Americans don't generally like when politicians are so blatantly partisan when it comes to the Supreme Court. They like to pretend that Supreme Court justices are somehow above such mundane things as politics and want their elected politicians to behave accordingly. While it's true that this won't likely turn many elections by itself, it is just another example of the Republican leadership, this time led by Mitch McConnell, shooting themselves in the foot.
It's hard to give Obama much credit because even the most obvious move looks masterful when your opponents are complete morons, but he has once again successfully made the GOP look like a bunch of petulant children, and I suppose we can congratulate him on that.