President Small Hands/Big Mouth has nominated Neil Gorsuch to replace Antonin Scalia, the semi-recently deceased SCOTUS ultra-conservative. Gorsuch is clearly conservative, with potentially Scalia-like judicial mindedness. Perhaps he’s not a complete disciple of the, at times, radically pro-corporate, anti-working class Antonin. That’s what Senate hearings on any SCOTUS nominee are for: get some insights into how the potential black robe-wearing, sworn-in for his or her remaining life jurist may vote on the myriad issues brought before the full nine member Supremes. You know, those decisions that, within the last few decades have affected gun legislation, same-sex marriage, the environment, immigration, healthcare (including women’s reproductive rights) and so much more.
When Scalia was still drawing breath, he was part of what had been, a clearly 5-4 conservative (and at times radically so) Court. Upon his death, suddenly there was a 4-4 split. President Obama, as was his Executive right to do so, named Merrick Garland as the nominee to replace Antonin. Garland wasn’t considered radical left or right. Many Republicans had (prior to his nomination) spoke kindly of him. This was early in 2016. President Obama had 10 months left in his second term. And, as I noted, he had every right, indeed a duty, to act sooner-than -later on filling that vacant Court seat.
Well, right and duty be damned!, declared Mitch McConnell. According to McConnell and his Republican-controlled Senate, Obama should “let the people of the United States decide” who the next nominee should be. His declaration was that no hearing would be held on Garland, so that the November election would allow we the people to have a say in the matter. In so doing, McConnell was flat-out violating his own oath of office, and blatantly intending to stonewall the Obama nominee. Outrageous as this gambit was, the Democrats, once again, reacting with nothing more than some expressed umbrage, let McConnell’s pissing on the constitutionality of Obama’s right to have his nominee get a hearing stand firm. Obama’s “bully pulpit” went unused, as though he never knew it existed.
Of course the Democratic Party, that (as noted in my previous blog) for decades had become more compliant and accommodating to the Republican ideology (can you say Reagan Democrat?) didn’t make much of a fuss over this subversive maneuver by McConnell. The one-time, “party of the people” having become so weak, so spineless, was just being themselves (with maybe a handful of old-school, FDR types as the exception, members of the “Democratic wing” of the Democratic Party, as it were).
Now, as we all know, McConnell’s pompous-assed ploy worked to perfection, since (as also previously noted) the Democrats managed to un-inspire tens of millions of voters to yawn about candidate Hillary who, in spite of actually winning the election by popular vote, likely hears the deafening echos of those yawning millions who unwittingly allowed the reality TV wack job to become our Wack Job-in-chief.
But back to the the just announced Supreme Court nominee, and his likelihood of again establishing a 5-4 right-to-far-right Court. No doubt, there’s not going be any stopping the Republican controlled Senate from confirming Gorsuch. The Republicans tend to be in lock-step. And yes, though they are a Party of fear-mongering, union-busting, profits over people, anti-science, anti-environmental protection, anti-regulation, an unctious branch of organized crime, they keep winning elections. So, bad on those yawning non-voters. Bad on the media and it’s sucking-up to The Apprentice blow-hard. Bad on those who are racist, misogynists, Islamaphobes or xenophobes, one and all who voted for the most disgraceful candidate for President in the history of our country.
Most of all, however, bad, really, really BAD on the National Democratic Party, whose incompetent and collusive political ethos has culminated in all of the fear and loathing from the campaign trail to now infest The White House and Congress. Today, and essentially every day, since January 2oth, 2017 is Groundhog Day. But it’s not the Groundhog Day akin to classic movie of the same name, when a hapless Bill Murray had to live the same day over and over. At least his stuck-in-time character was placed in a largely upbeat, if not silly, observance of a Groundhog either seeing or not seeing his shadow, within a semi-mythical town peppered with fairly pleasant souls. No one meant Murray’s character any harm on any of the endless days of repetition he had to endure. His torment was from within himself, not from the externals of the day. Not so with the current repetition (at least for those of us who did not vote for Small Hands). Our Groundhog Day loop is entirely external in its torments. The particulars of the external sources have some venal variance, but their effects are inexorably burrowing into our psyches with the sameness of Murray’s daily, internal psychic struggle, regardless of the kindheartedness of those co-habiting his existential imprisonment.
Yeah, we’re stuck. But consider this when fretting over the the McConnell malfeasance: The Supreme Court would now be a 5-3 Left-leaning body if not for the confirmation of one Clarence Thomas, confirmed by the U.S. Senate in October 1991. Thomas was cynically nominated by George H.W.Bush to replace another African-American Justice, Thurgood Marshall. I say cynically because Marshall was a lifelong advocate for the common good, and a vital voice in fighting against the old Jim Crow era of U.S.history. Marshall is a towering figure who literally placed himself in harm’s way to right wrongs during his lifetime.
Clarence Thomas? No quite such a towering figure of noble actions, back during his hearings or in his years on the Court. For those not familiar, during his Senate hearings, Thomas was accused of being a serial sexual harasser of numerous women under his authority while he was Chairman of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Most notably was the testimony of Anita Hill, though she was not alone in her accusations. With his nomination seemingly destroyed, Thomas then played the race card, famously declaring the hearings “an electronic lynching”. Never mind that, even without the sexual misconduct he was accused of, Thomas had a paltry portfolio for a Supreme Court candidate. A vapid, in some ways grotesque, choice to replace the remarkable Thurgood Marshall.
Well, like McConnell’s ploy, it worked. But not because the Republicans controlled the Senate. In fact at the time of the hearings, the democrats held a 57-43 advantage! But enough democrats caved in when the race card was played, or others who, being from states with a large African-American constituency, still gave Thomas their vote. The result was a 52-48 thumbs up for Thomas. Arguably unqualified from the start, and a sexual predator to boot, he is the Justice who, to this day, has allowed the Supreme Court to have that 5-4, very conservative advantage. If the democrats had stood their ground, and forced a more moderate replacement for Marshall, the Gorsuch nomination wouldn’t be nearly as troubling. For that matter, had the democrats had a spine in 1991, along with their large advantage in the Senate, there would not have been a 5-4 SCOTUS decision that placed George W. Bush in the White House, there to start a war in Iraq based on lies. There would not have been a Citizens United decision that declared money as free speech. And so much more…
The Democratic Party. We need to replace it. It no longer deserves anyone’s support as a viable alternative to the GOP. The democrats talk the talk, but continually fail to walk the walk. They are simply political dead weight, in my humble opinion.
Go Green, I say. As I have asserted, if only Bernie Sanders had run as a Green, he’d be in the Oval Office.
But still, happy Groundhog Day! Did that critter see its shadow? Six more weeks of winter? Who gives a rat’s ass one way or another? For certain, we’re looking at at least 206 more weeks political winter. Maybe far morw than that…