Enough obstruction

If Senate pooh-poohs a qualified Supreme Court candidate, presidential nominees will have some explaining to do

This week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated his determination to block consideration of President Obama’s nominee to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. McConnell hopes that a Republican will win the presidency and then appoint a conservative justice.

This is obstructionism of the worst sort. McConnell is playing high-stakes political chess, and he’s going to lose.

It’s nothing new, of course. Shortly after Obama was elected in 2008, McConnell told the Senate Republican caucus that it should have one overriding goal: to defeat every bill the president presented to Congress, regardless of its merits. His latest action is the culmination of this cynical tactic.

It won’t work. Polls show Americans believe the Senate should follow the Constitution and consider the president’s nominee. The Senate Republicans’ strategy is likely to boomerang on them in the November election.

This is especially true if the president nominates a Latino. As Michael Tomasky, political analyst for the Daily Beast, asks: What if the president nominates someone like California Supreme Court Associate Justice Tino Cuellar—Mexican-American, degrees from Harvard, Yale and Stanford, sterling résumé, married to a U.S. district judge? It would be “the GOP’s worst nightmare,” Tomasky says, tying the Republican Party in knots and potentially altering the presidential race as well.

Obama will nominate the person he believes is best qualified. But if that turns out to be someone like Cuellar, it will be fun to watch the Republican presidential candidate squirm as he tries to explain to Latino voters why he opposes such a splendid nominee. Without significant Latino support, after all, no Republican can win the presidency.