There isn't much that President Obama and I agree on--but he is correct in demanding the US Senate hold confirmation hearings on his Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. The President is also right in pointing out that he has Constitutional authority to make such a nomination--even though he is in the final year of his term. I'm not sure where the idea came from that an elected official should just pack it in and stop doing his job just because other people are now running for it. What would Republican reaction be if the President and his family just went on their Hawaiian vacation last December and never came back? "Well, since no one wants me to my job, I may as well just sit in Paradise and cash my paycheck!"
The President made the Senate GOP look even more foolish by nominating a judicial moderate. Republicans would have had a field day if another Sonia Sotomayor or Elena Kagan had been sent their way. But Merrick Garland is the guy that sent Timothy McVeigh to the death chamber. He's also the guy that put the Unabomber--Ted Kaczynski--away for life. So this is not your average soft-on-crime liberal federal judge we're talking about. The fact that Salon.com's first tweet about Garland was how "disappointing" his nomination is gives me some reason to believe the guy is fairly reasonable about the Constitution.
But Republicans have painted themselves into a corner from which they now refuse to leave. Even if the President had announced yesterday that scientists had actually taken some of Antonin Scalia's DNA and created an exact judicial clone and that was going to be his nominee, they were all going to stand by their promise not to hold any hearings.
As a Constitutionalist, this offends me. Why does even considering the nomination project "weakness" on the part of Republicans. Wouldn't project more "strength" if hearings were held and serious questions were asked about Garland's background and judicial philosophy? You can still vote "no"--even without a really good reason--but at least you upheld your requirements in the process. Instead, the "angry white men" become the real focus of the Presidential race through the summer--and hurt the party long-term.