File this in your Here We Go Again file. On April 22 a top Republican strategist urged GOPers to delay a vote on the Obama administration’s Supreme Court nomination no matter who he or she would be for pure political reasons. Talking Points Memo got a hold of a tape of the call. Here’s a little of what activist Curt Levey, director of the conservative Committee for Justice, said (emphasis mine):
The crux of the GOP’s strategy is to use Obama’s nominee to wedge vulnerable Democratic senators away from the party, and drag the confirmation fight out until the August congressional recess, to eat up precious time Democrats need to round out their agenda.
“[I]t wouldn’t take much GOP resistance to push a final vote into early August,” Levey advised. “And, look, the closer we could get it to the election, frankly, the better. It would be great if we could push it past the August recess because that forces the red and purple state Democrats to have to go home and face their constituents.”
Levey acknowledged that a filibuster likely won’t last–that Obama’s nominee, now known to be Solicitor General Elana Kagan, will almost certainly be confirmed. But he hammered home the point to Republicans that there’s value in mischaracterizing any nominee, and dragging the fight out as long as possible, whether or not Obama’s choice is particularly liberal.
“We wouldn’t have a lot to object to if it was [Interior Secretary Ken] Salazar. He’s quite moderate as Democrats come,” Levey admitted. “We’re not necessarily going to say that if he’s nominated, but I think that’s the truth.” This advice was met with laughter by one of the listeners on the call. (Salazar was cited in early reports as a long-shot candidate on Obama’s short list.)
“Even if it’s a nominee that we can’t seriously stop, we can accomplish several things, and so a hard fight is worthwhile,” Levey implored. “Certainly it can be to the political advantage of Republicans…. There’s everything to be gained from making the Supreme Court vacancy a campaign issue in 2010.”
“There’s broader goals such as just distracting Obama from other items on his agenda,” Levey added. “The tougher the fight the less capital and time and resources and floor time in the Senate there is to spend on immigration and climate change, etc.”
So there you have it.
And how’s THIS for instilling honesty in our elected officials?
“For those people who do want to support the nominee, and do want to get points for bipartisanship or for supporting the first Hispanic or first gay nominee or whatever it might turn out to be you’ll get just as much credit if you support the nominee in August, as if you support them now,” Levey said “I urge everyone not to say that the confirmation of the nominee is inevitable, even if we think it is.”
Who wrote this guy’s script? Rush Limbaugh?
If this is what occurs for the reasons outlined above, then the ostensible goal of governance — governing efficiently and seriously evaluating policies — is (clearly) going to take back-seat to a loooooooong delaying tactic, backed up by talking points that will be repeated on cable shows and the Internet.
Meanwhile, there is a sense of deja vu here. Some weeks ago the Internet was abuzz after GOP pollster Frank Luntz gave specific words that Republicans should use to try and oppose financial reform. And — lo and behold — some Republicans were repeating them.
They didn’t need the dreaded cue cards or notes on their hands, but it was clear what was happening.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell repeated them so dutifully that there were rumors Cartoon Network was going to call and invite him to do a cameo in a cartoon as a parrot.
Go to the original link and bookmark it. And let’s see if it portends what is about to unfold. If the fight delays into August and other action is stalled then you’ll know it was one big political game — despite the country’s pressing problems.
I suspect this will take place and that it portends how our politics now operates: 24/7 partisan games.
I could be wrong.
And the Easter Bunny could visit me, too.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.