This morning NPR interviewed Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) concerning the GOP’s unprecedented and shameful obstruction of Obama’s nominee to replace deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
The interview went about as you expected, with Hatch predictably reiterating the GOP’s obstructionist position, proclaiming that “voters deserve a say” in who the new Justice will be while clearly neglecting that voters already had a say in 2012. . . unless he and the rest of his brigade are somehow implying that voters in 2012 were ignorant of the presidential term length, or perhaps that they voted for Obama but with the caveat that he only have power for three years instead of four.
There was mild news in the sense that Hatch left open the possibility of eventually confirming Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, but only after the elections in November. Clearly this would only happen if Hillary wins and if Republicans then calculate that she’s likely to nominate a more liberal candidate than Garland. I’m not sure what factors would go into such a calculation, and I’m personally skeptical they’d have anything to worry about given that Clinton is a Republican herself on every issue except for women’s rights and health care.
But all in all, nothing new. We knew all this already. People paying attention know how hypocritical it is of Hatch to block Garland (no matter what he wants to call it), since Hatch is on record as extolling Garland as essentially an ideal bipartisan nominee from a Democratic president. Reasonable people know that the Republicans are committing dereliction of duty for purely political motives.
The most interesting comment for me came at the very end, and it’s where NPR dropped the ball. Hatch, winding down, explicitly stated that Democrats would be doing the exact same thing if the positions were switched.
Now two questions immediately occurred to me upon hearing this, and the NPR interviewer asked neither of them. The first was simply, “How can you know that?” I mean, he stated this weird hypothetical so confidently that you’re tempted to believe it’s a statement of fact.
But if you think about it for even a second you realize that not only is there no way he could know that for sure, but his opinion doesn’t even follow logically, knowing how meek and cowardly Democrats typically act in the face of Republican belligerence. It’s almost impossible for me to even imagine the Democrats doing this. Which rabid Democratic senators would be leading the charge. Reid? I guess it’s possible. But who would support him? Hatch’s statement is simply and outrageously ignoring the huge disparity in extremism between the two parties.
Let’s say Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away suddenly at the end of a Republican administration. Democrats would most likely hem and haw a little bit about how they hoped the president would at least select a more moderate judge considering he was on the way out and was replacing a liberal stalwart. Then, after the president nominated the 2nd Coming of Scalia, they would whine a little bit about how unfair it is but then cave in once Republicans began berating them nonstop about how obstructionist they’re being.
How many of you honestly believe Hatch’s version is more realistic than mine?
In any case, the second question that occurred to me would have been more useful, though it wasn’t as instinctual as the first so I don’t necessarily blame the interviewer for not asking. It was, “Granting your hypothetical, if Democrats were blocking a Republican nominee as you claim, what would your reaction be?”
And I would have sincerely loved to hear his response to this one.
But yeah, NPR failed to challenge Hatch on his illogical closing argument, and they missed a wonderful opportunity to further expose GOP hypocrisy on this issue. In a political and media age where truth is becoming increasingly scorned, and hypocrisy increasingly met with impunity, it is all the more incumbent upon our media members that they hold public servants’ feet to the flames. Please get on your game, NPR.
Help us, non-corporate media — you’re our only hope.