Friday, April 1, 2016

GOP Will Cave on Merrick Garland Nomination

Trigger Warning:
Get ready, cause here he comes...
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The GOP told us for years that they had no power to fight Obama.  Conservatives demanded that the Republican leadership stand up to Obama as early as 2008.  We were told that the GOP was in a weakened state.  Pundits on both sides of the political spectrum were actively wondering if the party was living on borrowed time.  Few believed it could recover from the immaculation of Saint Obama.  Conservatives still pushed the GOP to fight on principal.  Still, Republican leadership told us they just didn't have enough power.  "Get us the House," they said.  "We can do more if we control the House."

Obamacare passed, and in 2010 we gave the Republican leadership what they needed.  Republicans controlled the House, and narrowed the gap in the Senate.  The GOP had a massive advantage in controlling the government's purse strings.  Nothing would be funded without the approval of Speaker John Boehner.  "Finally," conservatives said.  "Finally we have some power back.  Now we can begin the fight against Obama's agenda."

Except that's not what happened.  Oh sure we got a few resolutions to repeal Obamacare that never went anywhere.  The hard work of resisting the Obama agenda, though, went undone.  Conservatives saw Republican leadership cave time and again.  We were quite rightly pissed.  "It's not our fault!" the GOP leadership wailed.  "We need the House and the Senate, and then we can really fight back!"  It seemed that conservatives would have to wait longer for the GOP to show some spine.

Then came 2014.  It was a roller coaster of a year.  The GOP was fresh off of a contentious budget fight that had resulted in the partial shutdown of the government.  The Republican party was savaged in the media.  True to form, Obama did not let the opportunity to embarrass the GOP go to waste.  The height of the shutdown had seen tourists forcibly removed from a national park at gunpoint.  World War 2 veterans were barred from the World War 2 Memorial in Washington, D.C.  The optics were so bad that Republican leadership vowed to never again risk another shutdown.

Yet waiting for the GOP in November was, perhaps, the largest victory in modern political history.  November, 2014 saw Republicans increasing their majority in the House, as well as taking the Senate.  Remarkably, the GOP also managed sweeping victories in state legislatures across the country.  Republican governors controlled a majority of the states in the Union.  Conservatives were overjoyed.  It seemed the conservative cause was given a mandate by the people to roll back the Obama agenda.  At long last the GOP had the power to fight Obama tooth and nail.

Once again, however, conservatives had their hopes dashed.  The GOP demonstrated that it had absolutely no will to fight Obama.  Time and again the party promised to fight back against some new executive action, only to fund it completely at the last minute.  The Republicans began to pursue their own agenda designed to cement their power.  Things like the infamous Gang of 8 bill showed that Republicans were willing to embrace concepts such as amnesty-but on their terms.  Conservatives cast their illusions of the Republican leadership actually giving a damn about their cause.  The party had finally shown its true colors.  Conservatives began fighting a two-front war, with liberals on the one hand, and the GOP leadership on the other.

That brings us to the present fight-Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court.  This is the one instance where the GOP has decided to dig in its heels.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has drawn a line in the sand.  Not only will Merrick Garland not be confirmed, the Senate will refuse to even hold hearings and consider his nomination.  No one should be confirmed until after the November election.  The GOP has decided that the people deserve to have a voice in who the next Supreme Court justice is.

It's nothing more than a pack of lies.  All of it.

The GOP would absolutely love to confirm Merrick Garland.  Hell they confirmed his appointment to a federal court by Bill Clinton back in the 90s.  Remember, though, that the GOP's ultimate goal is to gain and keep power at all costs.  What would happen if the GOP-led Senate held a hearing and confirmed Garland right now?  Complete and utter disaster.  The GOP would be revealed to everyone as the snakes they really are.  Conservatives and moderates alike would be able to see their true colors.  Everything the party has worked for would be undone in an instant.  You want to destroy the GOP's chances to ever win an election again in the foreseeable future?  Confirm Merrick Garland today.

Yes, Merrick Garland will be confirmed.  He will not be confirmed until AFTER the general election, however.  A confirmation before the election destroys the GOP's power.  Confirming Merrick Garland after the election, however, allows the GOP to either preserve some power, or exercise the last of it.  It all depends on how the general election shapes up.  There are three scenarios where we can expect a Garland confirmation.  One of them will happen.

Scenario number one involves Hillary Clinton winning the general election.  Perhaps Donald Trump became the Republican nominee and imploded under the weight of his (un)favorability ratings.  Maybe Ted Cruz was nominated and his message fell on deaf ears.  It could also be that the GOP leadership succeeded in stopping Trump and Cruz and nominated their own candidate.  The reason doesn't matter.  The result of a Hillary win in November would, at the very least, be a continuation of the same disastrous policies of the last eight years.  It's virtually guaranteed that Hillary would nominate someone to the Supreme Court that would be more liberal than Garland.

Republicans might continue to fight a Hillary nomination, however that puts them in an untenable situation.  The whole argument McConnell is making hinges on the people having a voice in the nomination process.  The general election would be the opportunity for the people to speak up by electing the next president.  That argument could no longer be used after November.  The fight would devolve into the Republican leadership being accused of obstructing and ignoring the will of the people.  That's a fight no one would want.

Confirming Merrick Garland, however, would be a way to limit the damage a Hillary Clinton presidency would do to the Supreme Court.  Yes Garland is a liberal, but he's not the kind of ideologue that progressives would demand Hillary nominate.  If Hillary is elected the GOP leadership will fast track Garland's nomination to head her off at the pass.  This allows the GOP to preserve enough of their power to regroup and try again in the next election cycle.

Scenario number two involves Trump or Cruz winning the nomination.  It's no secret that the GOP leadership absolutely loathes both of these men.  Donald Trump has smashed into the primary season like a wrecking ball.  He is brash, uncouth, arrogant, and, for the moment, exactly as good as he thinks he is.  What's worse, Donald Trump is not beholden to the SuperPACs and the lobbyists.  Donald Trump is completely uncontrollable.  The GOP leadership sees in Donald Trump the destruction of all their hard won power.

Ted Cruz is no better.  Out of all the candidates Cruz is the only one who has actively fought against the GOP leadership.  Not only that, Cruz has won many of his fights.  Cruz helped to destroy the Gang of 8 bill.  He filibustered their efforts on the Senate floor.  Ted Cruz stood up and publicly called Mitch McConnell a liar.  The GOP leadership knows a Ted Cruz presidency means the same as a Donald Trump presidency.

How can the GOP leadership blunt the power of either of these two men?  Simply put, by confirming Merrick Garland before either of them takes office.  This one act removes the chance either of these men would have of appointing their own Supreme Court justice.  More than that, though, confirming Garland breaks just a little bit of the Trump/Cruz stranglehold on the Republican party.  It allows the GOP leadership to regain a fraction of what they will have lost.  Perhaps that would be enough to allow the establishment to take back control in the next election.  At the very least it will be a stick in the eye to the voters.

The third scenario involves the GOP leadership doing an end run around Trump and Cruz to nominate their own person at the convention.  This is probably the least likely of the three scenarios.  A win for the GOP leadership in November would represent the ultimate power play for the establishment.  Their power would be fully cemented for years to come.  The fragile conservative coalition that has been built would be crushed.  What better way to celebrate by extending an olive branch to the Democrats?  The best way to prove that the new GOP president can reach across the aisle would be to nominate Barack Obama's Supreme Court pick, of course.

Merrick Garland will be confirmed.  It will happen before the next president is sworn in.  Bet on it.

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