To conservative ears, Obama's comments fell somewhere between risible and infuriating. Obama has always done his best to demonize and marginalize his opponents. Either the president honestly cannot see that, or he's cynically pretending that the fault lies entirely with his critics. If only there were some way to figure out whether he's sincere.
Well, let no one say the moral arc of the universe does not bend toward second chances.
Just a few days after Obama's remarks,
So it is no wonder that conservatives should grow instantly queasy at the thought that Obama will replace him with yet another high priest of the cult of the "living Constitution."
Already, partisans are sharpening their spears for what could easily be the meanest and most polarizing nomination battle in modern American history. It will get ugly, very ugly.
Some commentators have already moved to DEFCON 1. Within 48 hours of the news that Senate Majority Leader
Obama could prevent all this strife. He could say that he will leave this appointment up to his successor. Or he could appoint a conservative during the
Such diplomacy would go a long way to prevent -- or at least reduce -- further polarization and meanness in our politics.
Chances Obama will go this route? Zero. Instead he'll pick a liberal whom he'll call a moderate and insist on an up-or-down vote. He'll also probably pick a minority, making it that much easier for supporters such as Staples to paint opposition as bigotry.
But I don't blame him for wanting to get his pick on the bench. If I were president, I would seize the opportunity to appoint a like-minded justice. So would pretty much any Republican or any other Democratic president. On the other hand, I don't fetishize bipartisanship and unity the way Obama does -- if only rhetorically.
Republicans arguably erred when they implied that Obama shouldn't name a replacement for Scalia. The president has every right to do so. And the
On the Democratic side, some are claiming that the
Any claim that Republicans are the first to break the peace is as absurd as the suggestion that Obama is blameless for the polarization and meanness in our politics.