Yesterday, Barack Obama decided to once again break from his predecessors and interject himself directly into a current, contentious political issue. His ego has always overridden any sense of decorum, even as he and others constantly preach of its importance.
With the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Obama put out a statement (see Barack Obama, Scolder in Chief, Tells Us How to Honor Justice Ginsburg’s Legacy) demanding that Republicans not move forward before the election and that they sit on their hands so the process is “unimpeachable.”
Here’s a taste of that (emphasis his).
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought to the end, through her cancer, with unwavering faith in our democracy and its ideals. That’s how we remember her. But she also left instructions for how she wanted her legacy to be honored. My statement: https://t.co/Wa6YcT5gDi
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 19, 2020
Four and a half years ago, when Republicans refused to hold a hearing or an up-or-down vote on Merrick Garland, they invented the principle that the Senate shouldn’t fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in.
A basic principle of the law — and of everyday fairness — is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment. The rule of law, the legitimacy of our courts, the fundamental workings of our democracy all depend on that basic principle. As votes are already being cast in this election, Republican Senators are now called to apply that standard. The questions before the Court now and in the coming years — with decisions that will determine whether or not our economy is fair, our society is just, women are treated equally, our planet survives, and our democracy endures — are too consequential to future generations for courts to be filled through anything less than an unimpeachable process.
Actually, the principle by which Republicans operated under in 2016 was first suggested by Democrats, including Joe Biden himself. Regardless, the situation we face in 2020 is not the same as 2016, nor do the same standards apply. Obama is not a stupid man. He’s smart enough to know what the McConnell rule actually is. It only applies when the White House and Senate are held by different parties, thereby causing deadlock. With Donald Trump as President and a Republican Senate, none of those concerns exist.
Further, it’s simply none of Obama’s business what happens at this point. He is not an elected official, and though he wants to play act as if he’s still President, he’s only relevant to the partisans who love him.
In the aftermath of that statement, Trump was asked about the Obama-Garland issue earlier today. He gave a response that was spot on, and one I’m sure Obama won’t be too happy about.
Trump asked about Obama/Garland precedent:
"That's called the consequences of losing an election. He lost the election he didn't have the votes, when you lose elections some times things don't turn out well."
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) September 19, 2020
Elections have consequences. Such a simple, yet incredibly true phrase. In fact, I think I’ve heard it somewhere before. Perhaps even a former Democrat president once uttered those words.
This is simple. In 2016, Obama did not have the votes to move his nomination forward. That was the cost of losing the Senate in 2014. Today, President Trump likely does have the votes, so the vote will go forward. That’s the reward for winning in 2016 and keeping the Senate in 2018. Nothing else past that matters.
It would not matter one iota what olive branch Republicans tried to extend here. Democrats would spit in their face and blow up the filibuster in 2021 anyway if they took back power. That’s why any attempt at compromise here can’t happen. The GOP have the power, and they were given that power specifically for this moment. Let Obama go enjoy his mansion and Netflix contract. His opinion on the Supreme Court doesn’t matter.
(Please follow me on Twitter! @bonchieredstate)