Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Politics is What You Can Get Away With

I have a coffee mug with an Andy Warhol quote that I really like: "Art is what you can get away with." I was reminded of it today as President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

Viewed alone, I don't have a problem with Gorsuch. I mean, I disagree with a lot of his stances, and I certainly wouldn't nominate him, but he's clearly exceptionally qualified for the job and is not a nut.

But I don't think we can look at him in isolation. He has to be seen in the context of another eminently qualified jurist recently nominated to the Court: Merrick Garland. Republicans took the unprecedented step of simply refusing to even hold hearings on Pres. Obama's last nominee for almost an entire year. They hobbled the Court with an empty seat just because they could. They even hinted that they wouldn't have allowed Hillary Clinton to put someone on the bench either! For them, politics was what they could get away with. And they got away with it.

I don't know if it would be wise for Democrats to gum up the works for all four years of Trump/Pence (assuming they could--I doubt they would be disciplined enough to actually do it even if some tried). And yet, that seat on the Court, by all rights, should be Garland's. It's really frustrating to reward Republicans for their churlish behavior. But permanently hobbling the Court into 4-4 splits on fractious issues isn't a great way to govern, either.

Basically, it sucks. But I guess that's part and parcel of having Mr. Trump as president. Ugh.