Obama’s done a pretty clever thing in nominating someone who, by all accounts, is relatively centrist (for a liberal), old, and professionally liked by everyone he’s worked with. Obama knows that Mitch McConnell is staring down the barrel of a Donald Trump nomination, and that if Trump is nominated, Hillary will win and the GOP Senate Majority will be gone.
Merrick Garland is, by all accounts, a much better option than the Republicans will get if they nominate Trump and face an electoral bloodletting in November. And moreover, he will be presumably much sooner in the replacement queue, given his age, than the 50 year old (or younger) that Hillary Clinton is sure to nominate and ram through the Democratically controlled Senate.
I really did not think Obama had it in him to nominate someone who would actually be tempting as an option to the Senate GOP, who knows good and well what will happen if Trump is the nominee. The problem they face is that they likely won’t know if that happens at the very least until California’s June 7th winner-take-all primary, and depending on how that goes, not until after the convention in July.
It’s no coincidence that Senate Dems are trying to pressure McConnell to move and act before Memorial Day. Come the first of June, McConnell will have a much better idea if Merrick Garland is actually a pretty good option.
Don’t be surprised to see Obama say, in response, that if the GOP doesn’t move on him before May, he will withdraw Garland and submit another nominee.