As a child, I refused to try new foods. Unless Spaghetti-O’s or PB&J had without warning been renamed something called cole slaw, it would not be meeting my palate. I was fairly dogged about this, and no amount of cajoling or punishment could get me to change my mind.
I would sit for what seemed like hours after everyone else had finished their food and cleared the table, staring at a plate of what looked to me to be congealed slop specifically designed to turn my sensitive stomach. But at least I got a good, hard (and long) look at the offending fare as I rejected it. Sometimes I’d even run my fork through it a couple times.
If I were to draw an analogy at this point, it would be as though the Republican Majority of the U.S. Senate has heard only that food is on the way and has determined that no matter what it is or how it looks, they will not eat it. They have enormous contempt for the chef, you see. And no matter what might be on the menu, they’d rather wait until a new chef is hired and on the job a year from now before they eat.
This is where we are in American politics. In point of fact, it’s where we’ve been for over seven years. If it seems churlish and childish, that’s because it is.
Senate Republicans decided to reject any nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court to fill the vacancy due to the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, sight unseen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could not bring himself to wait for a nominee to even be proposed before rejecting the nominee outright.
Of course it’s predictable for the finalists in the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary Pageant to take the hard (and fairly absurd) line that the President should not even bother to make a nomination. That’s all in the game.
But as Senate Majority leader, for McConnell to leap off the cliff without looking is a massive political and strategic miscalculation. It must’ve been instinct for McConnell, who in 2010 notoriously characterized his party’s strategy toward the President as one of doing anything and everything to make sure he only had one term. That failed, but the strategy of unbridled and unprecedented obstruction has continued unabated.
This latest fight over the Supreme Court will serve only to remind voters for the next eight and a half months of that undeniable and shameful fact. It’s a bad look, after seven years of similarly bad looks.
Of course it’s well within the right of the Senate Majority to do this, though their characterization of President Obama as a “lame duck,” to anybody vaguely familiar with civics and the fact that no elected official is a “lame duck” until after their successor is elected, comes off as kind-of stupid.
A survey out this week from Public Policy Polling shows Republicans in key U.S. Senate races this year are already paying the price for this errant tactic. In Ohio, where Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is on the hot seat, voters think by a margin of 58 percent to 35 percent that the vacant seat should be filled this year.
The Republicans have served a tremendous political opportunity to President Obama and the Democrats. And to 5-year-old me, to continue the analogy, it looks like a big bowl of Spaghetti O’s and a PB&J with the crust cut off.
All the President has to do now is nominate the most ridiculously well-qualified person he can find from a key demographic and travel the country with that person doing town halls for eight months, reminding voters that Republicans rejected this person before they even knew his or her name.
Now that I’m 31, I’m like a goat; I’ll eat almost anything. But even when I was five I knew enough to at least look at what was being offered before stubbornly rejecting it.
D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.