The political world mourned the loss of Justice Antonin Scalia - for about two seconds. Then politics kicked in followed by the usual Washington hypocrisy.
Republicans are saying they won't consider a nominee to replace Scalia - ostensibly because we're in the final year of the Obama presidency and any replacement should be voted on after the November elections, so the people have a voice in the matter.
The real reason, of course, is that Republicans don't want another liberal Justice on the Court - especially now, when a liberal would create a new majority on the bench - a new, liberal majority.
Understandably, Democrats are saying the president is still the president, that his term doesn't expire for another year, and so he has a constitutional obligation to recommend a successor to Scalia - and the Senate has an obligation to vote on the president's pick.
There is enough hypocrisy on both sides to choke the proverbial horse.
Upon hearing the news that the Senate wasn't going to take up any nomination the president sent over, New York liberal Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer ripped the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as an "obstructionist."
“When you go right off the bat and say, ‘I don’t care who he nominates, I am going to oppose him,’ that’s not going to fly,” Schumer said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Who are we kidding? If the tables were turned, and a Republican president in his final year in office were trying to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, Chuck Schumer and a whole bunch of other liberal Democrats would argue precisely what Republicans are now arguing - that no successor should be voted on until after the next election.
But wait. No need for hypotheticals. The tables were turned back in 2007, in what was then President Bush's final year in office.
This is what the very same Senator Schumer said back then when President Bush had 18 months left in his term - nearly twice as much time as President Obama has now:
“We should not confirm any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court, except in extraordinary circumstances.” Why? Because Schumer thought the court was already too conservative.
Ok, politicians speak out of both sides of their mouth. That's hardly a bulletin. Still, maybe the Republicans played their hand wrong. Maybe they shouldn't have said they wouldn't consider any nominee. Maybe they should have said, “Send your nominee over Mr. President and we'll consider him or her - in due time.” And then they could have let the clock run out until after the election.
Or maybe they should have agreed to consider the president's nominee and then, no matter how qualified that person might be, do what Democrats did to Robert Bork, President Ronald Reagan's nominee.
Democrats ran a despicable campaign against Bork. Ted Kennedy, the so-called "conscience" of the Democratic Party, led the mob, saying that if Bork were confirmed and became a Justice on the bench of the Supreme Court, America would be a place where "women would be forced into back alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters" and "rogue police would break down citizens' doors."
He had to know none of that was true. Robert Bork wasn’t the gestapo. He was unquestionably qualified. He was already on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, already approved by the Senate. The Democrats just didn't want another conservative on the Court. So they tried to destroy him and managed to turn his name into a verb. He was "borked."
We are a nation divided. Barack Obama is one of the most polarizing presidents in recent history. We live in an "us versus them" country. They did it to us and now it's our turn to pay the SOBs back.
Can you blame the Republicans for playing politics? They had good teachers.