Editorial writer Jacalyn Carfagno sees a contradiction in Republicans who “yammer on” about the Constitution and democracy but then say damnable things about a duly elected president.
Actually, the Constitution doesn’t require anyone to speak well of a president, even one who wins twice. The Founders were more concerned with establishing the right to criticize national leaders — a novel idea in the 18th century — than with any hurt feelings that might result.
Modern Americans should appreciate their foresight. Today we have an aspiring leader who has promised, if elected, to “open up” libel laws so he can drag his critics into court and skin them without a lot of unnecessary paperwork. He plans to start with The Washington Post and The New York Times. But if America’s next adventure in low-information voting lands us in Trump World, those not inclined to duck and cover will find their best survival tool in the dusty old First Amendment.
Unfortunately for Democrats, the Constitution can’t help them in the current Supreme Court controversy. James Madison and company expressly gave the president the power to nominate judges and the Senate authority to confirm or reject them. All the wailing in the media won’t change that, but it does call attention to a steaming pile of hypocrisy.
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Democrats inaugurated the modern era of judicial obstruction in 1987, when they smeared Judge Robert Bork so savagely that senators rejected him for fear of endangering their own careers. The confirmations of justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito turned into knife fights, as well.
Leading the Democratic charge in today’s battle is Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who is outraged that Sen. Mitch McConnell would block a nomination from a president with almost a year to go in office. Yet in 2007, with 18 months left for George W. Bush, Schumer vowed to do his utmost to prevent any more Bush appointments. Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts were all he intended to stomach.
Opposition to a third Obama appointment has nothing to do with questioning his legitimacy and everything to do with an ideological shift in the court that could endure for decades.
True, a Hillary Clinton victory would yield the same result, but Republicans have to take chances on elections like everyone else. What they don’t have to do is lose by choice. They would be fools not to give themselves a chance to replace the late Antonin Scalia with a like-minded justice. By the same token, President Barack Obama would be a fool not to push his own nominee.
Sometimes there’s nothing left except to blow the whistle and play ball. Democrats’ efforts to manufacture pre-game shame are laughable. They would do exactly what Republicans are doing if the situation were reversed.
Does Carfagno expect McConnell to believe otherwise? Now that would be a “whacko Republican reaction” for the history books.
Michael Smith of Cynthiana is an office worker for a Lexington contractor.
At issue: March 6 Jacalyn Carfagno column, “7 years on, President Obama still a bridge too far for GOP”