The fight to block Obama from appointing a radical to the Supreme Court will be the GOP’s Waterloo. The outcome of this imbroglio will by itself determine whether there was any value in electing a GOP Senate in 2014 and whether there is any utility in continuing to invest political capital in this fledgling party.
Sadly, it appears that the tried and tested capitulation game has already begun.
The playbook is the same every time. Even in the face of less consequential political fights, Republicans start out talking tough. Then, leadership allows the weakest liberal members to begin dissenting from the party line and even trash talking the party to the media. Next, leadership says they have to embark on the legislative process to be fair but still oppose the initiative and will personally fight against it. Then, depending on how many votes it needs to pass, they decide whether to throw in with the liberal Republicans.
The minute Obama announced his intention to nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia, thereby making the existing liberal advantage on the court complete and irrevocable, Republican leaders had no choice but to categorically oppose it. After all, the party is already hanging by a thread with the base.
Yesterday, the dominos began to fall. While Sens. McConnell, Hatch, and other senior leadership members were still talking tough, liberal Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) announced his support for Obama to put forth a “consensus” nominee. And although Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the Majority Whip, reiterated his desire that the next president fill the vacancy, he said that holding hearings is entirely up to the Judiciary Committee Chairman and scheduling a floor vote is entirely up to McConnell.
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