The race to become the next U.S. president has been surprisingly entertaining in an absurd sort of way. This year’s presidential primary has turned into a hair-raising political version of Westlemania complete with carefully scripted kicks below the belt and full body slams. And, as usual, the media has been right there egging on the combatants and recording all the blows, including every slip of the tongue, every misstep in unceasing detail. Each candidate hopes to score points with some new bombshell or accusation that pins his opponents to the mat and knocks them out of the race.
Right in the middle of all this, the longest serving Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dies. Suddenly, the attention shifts from the Main Event to an under-card bout featuring President Obama vs GOP Senate in a contest to fill the SCOTUS vacancy before the 2016 presidential election.
Here’s the blow-by-blow description of the match—
The GOP Senate strikes the first blow announcing that they will not hold any hearings or meetings with whomever the president picks for the job.
My view, and I can now confidently say the view shared by virtually everybody in my conference, is that the nomination should be made by the president that the people elect in the election that’s now underway…this nomination, this vacancy, should not be filled by this lame-duck president,”—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Quickly, Obama counter-punches with a press briefing loudly chiding the GOP Senate for refusing to do its job.
I recognize the politics are hard for them because the easier thing to do is to give in to the most extreme voices within their party and stand pat and do nothing. But that’s not our job. Our job is to fulfill our constitutional duties.—President Obama
Obama climbs atop his bully pulpit to rally the crowd by talking smack about the GOP Senate calling them obstructionists and sheepish. Smack talking is a frequent tactic Obama uses in his fights to run circles around his GOP opponents much to the delight of his fan base. On cue, the pro-Obama crowd roars its approval and takes to Twitter and Facebook.
The GOP Senate storms back attacking the Democrats with their own words. In 1992, during President George H. Bush’s last term, then Democratic Senator (now Obama VP) Joe Biden made a speech to Congress on Supreme Court appointments during an election year:
Once the political season is underway and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over.—Senator Joe Biden
Does the GOP Senate have a point, you think? It argues that it’s nothing more than precedent, simply a case of what’s good for the goose is good for the gander— meaning, if the Democrats can do it, so can we. For now, Obama and the GOP Senate have retreated to neutral corners to consider their strategy for the next round. It appears this contest won’t be decided anytime soon.
It’s anyone’s guess what will happen next. So while two-thirds of the government (President and Congress) fight over their respective constitutional duties, the other one-third (Supreme Court) continues to conduct the business of the Court albeit with one less player on the bench.
An enemy might be able to defeat one person, but two people can stand back-to-back to defend each other. And three people are even stronger. They are like a rope that has three parts wrapped together—it is very hard to break.—Ecclesiastes 4:12-13 ERV