Mitch McConnell's ludicrously dishonest and unconstitutional attempt to hijack the Supreme Court nomination process has taken me to a place that may not be obvious to most people. Specifically, it took me back to the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, as "expressed" in the conservative media. With the nation in shock and two of America's greatest cities bleeding and broken, the members of the right-wing chattering class did the obvious thing, at least to them: blame Bill Clinton, who hadn't been in office for almost eight months, as opposed to George W. Bush, the then-sitting President who had been warned the month before about an attack on the U.S. by Osama bin Laden, and used the month to clear brush on his ranch.
Why? Because they didn't care about the dead. About the broken cities. About the loss sense of innocence and invulnerability. About the chickens coming home to roost from more than six decades of bipartisan manipulation of the Middle East for the sake of its underground dead dinosaurs. No, what they saw in our nation's misery and fear was an opportunity to rally American around a new international bogeyman, something they hadn't been able to do since the end of the Cold War. In short, they were only concerned about power. Their power. Over everything else.
This pattern asserted itself throughout the Bush years, as they torched any concern for balancing the budget, believing in the power of perpetual tax cuts and perpetual war, and led us into the financial disaster of 2008. Didn't matter. Washington bailed them out. Then Barack Obama and the Democrats won, tried to bail the American people out and, lo and behold, suddenly the authors of the financial disaster were "job-creators" who required a balanced budget to feel secure about creating jobs. Inconsistency? Of course. Doesn't matter to the hypocrites behind the inconsistency. They will do and say what ever they have to do in the short run, as long as it means that they can hang onto power.
Even Obama's re-election only fazed them for a little while, as polls told them they could win the second-term midterms if they stood stone-cold against immigration reform, regardless of what that did for their long-term electoral prospects. Long-term? Who's even going to be alive then? (Only our grandchildren, knock on wood, but that's another story.) This is all about today. This is all about hanging on to those positions of power that make them part of the "Washington elite" they love to castigate to their followers. This is all about, for now, hanging on to power. Even if it means doing absolutely nothing in order to do it.
Now, they are doing it again. Or, rather, Mitch McConnell is doing it again. I strongly suspect, based on media accounts, that the majority of the Senate would at least want to give President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, at least a hearing and a vote. And that's not surprising, given that a majority of the American people agree. You have to wonder exactly how far even McConnell is willing to go with this, given that he's already told his up-for-re-election caucus members that they can say what they want if they have to separate themselves from Donald Trump as a presidential nominee.
But make no mistake. McConnell's blockade of Garland is as unconstitutional as can be. The Constitution gives the advice-and-consent power with regard to Supreme Court nominees to "the Senate." To the whole Senate, not its majority leader. The only thing worse is McConnell's oily characterization of his actions as being motivated by "principle." The only "principle" that motivates McConnell is his desire to hang onto his very cushy job--the one he refuses to do.
Why has modern conservatism come down to this? Why are they unable to do anything, even when they've been given power. Simply put, they have fallen victim to the malaise that befalls other empires, be they nations or political parties. They can no longer adapt. Life is all about change, and, regardless of one's politics, one must adapt to that change or cease to exist. Conservatives in Canada understand this: they gave their nation universal health insurance, and are now giving it carbon taxation. But not in the United States, the richest, most powerful nation in the world.
At least Barack Obama has shown he can adapt. As pointed out by one commentator, his nomination of Garland, who may never sit on the Court, at least shows that he has learned that reaching out to Republicans as useless. Better to show that you are determined to do their job, give them a nominee they've already approved in the past, and let them punch themselves to death over it.
That's why Obama's reputation is on the rebound, as shown in polls and the press. Because he and the Democrats have learned to adapt. Which is why the future belongs to them. And not to Senator Turtle.