Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Trump: "Why Would I Change?"

Donald Trump declared himself the Republican Party's "presumptive" presidential nominee following his sweeping victory in Tuesday's primaries.   The large margin of Trump's wins not only makes it nearly impossible to stop him from receiving the GOP nomination, but it also serves as notice to Tuesday's other big winner, Democrat Hillary Clinton, that Trump will be a formidable opponent in the November election.

Trump swept every county in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware, while losing only a small handful of counties in Rhode Island and Connecticut.   The demographic break down of Trump's victories is impressive according to exit polls done in three states.   For instance, in Maryland Trump was the first choice for Republican women, men, conservatives, moderates and every income group.  In Connecticut Trump won all income and education groups, including Republican voters with college degrees.  And in Pennsylvania Trump won among Republican voters who described themselves as angry, anti-establishment and against trade deals.

Trump has received nearly 10 million votes since February's Iowa Caucus, millions more votes than each of his remaining opponents, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich.  Trump needs to secure fewer than 300 delegates to reach the 1237 delegates required to win the nomination in the first ballot of the Republican convention.   Cruz has put all his marbles into winning the Indiana primary next Tuesday, including coordinating with Kasich's campaign, but Trump leads in state polls taken before his blowout victories Tuesday.   Trump has promised to campaign hard to win Indiana. 

The fact that Trump has done so well defies conventional wisdom.  His unconventional presidential campaign stands out for its lack of political correctness and detailed policy positions.  But that is what appeals most to his supporters.   His supporters are angry at leaders of both parties for decades of campaign promises unfulfilled, for endless gridlock and mismanagement.  They have seen manufacturing jobs disappear, the nation's infrastructure crumble and growing income inequality.  Many were devastated as a result of the 2008 market crash, the worst since the Great Depression, and are still struggling.   Meanwhile, they fear immigrants in this country illegally will take jobs and the government will take away their rights. 

Enter Donald Trump, who speaks brashly, bluntly and in a voice that resonates with millions of angry Americans.  His campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again," speaks to a large faction of Republicans and independents who have had it with politics.  It doesn't matter to them that Trump insults Mexicans as rapists, women, Muslims, as well as his opponents and some world leaders.  It doesn't matter that he has flip-flopped on social issues, or that he doesn't seem to have a firm grasp of foreign policy.  His supporters don't care because he will be different than politics as usual, they really believe in outsider Donald Trump, they trust him. 

Yet, according to recent polls, more that 60 per cent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Trump, a number that would be insurmountable for any other candidate in the general election.   He does a bit better among Republicans, even though his negatives are high, much to the chagrin of the GOP establishment, which has been trying to write him off for months.  Last December, conservative writer Bill Kristol Tweeted, "Sticking to my prediction: Trump will win no caucuses or primaries, and will run behind Ron Paul in 2012 in IA and NH." 

Fresh from her victories in 4 of 5 states Tuesday, Hillary Clinton is reaching out to Sanders' supporters and beginning to focus her rhetoric on the national election campaign.  Many Clinton supporters believe that she will easily beat Trump in the presidential election next November.  But not so fast Democrats.  Trump already is shrewdly trying to get Senator Bernie Sanders to run as an independent in order to divide the Democratic vote. 

Clinton, an experienced but flawed candidate, is about to undergo months of relentless and scathing assaults.  Trump will attack her apparent strengths as failures, including her government experience, foreign policy service, leadership on women's issues and support among minorities.  He will attack President Bill Clinton's character, and mock the Clinton's mercilessly.  Trump will insult and bully Hillary Clinton in speeches and political ads in an effort to discourage Democrats and independents from voting for her election day.  Hillary Clinton is going to be in for the fight of her life. 

While it seemed unimaginable nearly a year ago, when he made his campaign announcement,  that Donald Trump could win his party's nomination, it is now possible that Trump could actually win the presidency this November to become the nation's insulter-in-chief.  Unpredictable, undisciplined and unscripted, Trump is dangerous.  After all, as Trump said in his victory speech Tuesday night, "I am me.  Why would I change?"

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Trump-Clinton Landslides

If you can make it in New York -- you will win your party's presidential nomination.  That is the big message following the landslide victories Tuesday by Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.   

Trump trounced his opposition, collecting 60 percent of the Republican primary vote and 89 delegates.  Senator Ted Cruz paid a huge price for mocking "New York values" as he won a mere 14 percent of the vote and zero delegates.  Talk about a Bronx cheer! 

"We don't have much of a race anymore," Trump said in his shorter than usual victory speech Tuesday night at Trump Tower.  As a result of his decisive victory in New York, Trump is all but certain to achieve the required 1237 delegates to win his party's nomination outright on the first ballot at the Republican Convention.  No matter, there is little doubt that he will come close enough to the magic number to fend off any attempts to stop him.  

"The race for the Democratic nomination is in the homestretch and victory is in sight," Hillary Clinton said at her victory rally late Tuesday.  While Hillary Clinton's Democratic victory was nearly as impressive as Trump's, Senator Bernie Sanders was and remains a formidable opponent with a huge passionate following.  Clinton reached out to Sanders' supporters in her remarks, "To all the people who supported Senator Sanders, I believe there is much more that unites us than divides us."

Sanders congratulated Clinton Tuesday night, but told reporters in Burlington, Vermont, "We have a message that is resonating throughout the country."  His explanation for his New York loss was the process.  "Some 3 million New Yorkers were unable to vote (Tuesday) because they had registered as independents, no Democrats or Republicans, and that makes no sense," he said.  

There is no clear path forward for Sanders to the nomination.  Yes, he went from having no name recognition to drawing enormous crowds at his campaign rallies across the country.  Yes, he magically ignited the imagination and support from millions of otherwise disengaged young Americans.  Yes, his progressive voice gave hope to the disenfranchised and the victims of income inequality.  Yes, his anti-Wall Street fervor tapped into a deep-seated frustration in America.  Yes, his anti-war posture reflected the feelings of many in a war-weary nation.   

Sanders has run a brilliant campaign, a campaign that has generated tremendous emotion.  But emotion can hamper clear and practical judgement.  Were Sanders to decide to aggressively continue his attacks on Clinton, especially his negative attacks, he will be playing into the Republican's hands.  He may also make in impossible for some Sanders' supporters to vote for Clinton in the general election.  

On the other hand, Sanders could resume his positive campaigning, speaking out on issues that have shaped his campaign while highlighting his differences with Clinton.   This would be a constructive way to legitimately raise issues without turning his most ardent supporters against Clinton.  And there will come a time in the next few weeks when the Democratic Party will have to unite, just as it did following Barack Obama's nomination in 2008.  

Donald Trump has set his sights on the White House.  He has overcome gaffes,  he has won despite alienating Latinos, Muslims, women, Mexicans, and Fox News anchors.  He has staged a highly entertaining campaign that has drawn enormous crowds, and he has campaigned round-the-clock on Twitter.   Several times Trump has defied pundit predictions of his demise, most recently following his defeat in Wisconsin.  He has done so because he has tapped into the frustrations of millions of Americans who believe Trump is the one who will "make America great again," even though Trump has offered little in the way of details.  

Trump has proven to be a fierce and wily politician who will pose a tremendous challenge for Hillary Clinton.   And he has already started using his "crooked" Hillary Clinton line at rallies.   Trump has already begun to unify the GOP, even though many Republicans don't trust him.   

Yes, presidential candidate Donald Trump will be unpredictable and challenging in the general election.  But he will be near impossible to beat if the Democratic Party is divided, and Sanders' supporters stay home.  Then everything that Sanders believed in will be lost, and decades of progress for progressives will be deleted from history.  

Monday, April 11, 2016

Ted Cruz Closing Strong

Texas Senator Ted Cruz has run a very impressive campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. In fact, it is amazing to see he has done so well give his duplicity and polarizing nature.
Cruz has been shrewd in his approach to securing convention delegates, and he has displayed a keen understanding of each state's rules for winning delegates. Current GOP front-runner Donald Trump exploded into a Twitter rage over the weekend after Cruz won all of Colorado's 37 convention delegates. “The people of Colorado had their vote taken away from them by the phony politicians. Biggest story in politics. This will not be allowed!” Trump tweeted.
Trump has only himself to blame for being outmaneuvered by the man he refers to as "lying Ted." The rules are the rules and they are well known to candidates who do their homework. Last August the Colorado Republican Party announced it would not let voters take part in the nomination process. At the time, the Denver Post reported, “The GOP executive committee has voted to cancel the traditional presidential preference poll after the national party changed its rules to require a state’s delegates to support the candidate that wins the caucus vote.” This begs the question, "If Trump can get out foxed in Colorado, how can he succeed in negotiations with China and Iran?"
Senator Cruz has carefully navigated the turbulent Republican nomination process to build the second largest collection of loyal delegates going into the convention. Once one of 17 GOP candidates running for the nomination, he has positioned himself well to be a viable alternative to Trump. Cruz kept his powder dry in the earlier primaries and caucuses, refusing to get caught up in the name calling and sniping that characterized much of the campaign. He was an outstanding college debater, but so far his debate performances during the primaries has been unremarkable.
Instead, he has focused on winning delegates with charm, wit and deceit. In the Iowa Caucus, the Cruz campaign adopted "social pressure" techniques to scare Republicans out to vote. It sent out mailers to likely voters with the heading "VOTER VIOLATION." The mailer included threatening text, "Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors' are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well." The Iowa Secretary of State later condemned this tactic, "Accusing citizens of Iowa of a 'voting violation' based on Iowa Caucus participation, or lack thereof, is false representation of an official act."
Cruz was so determined to win in Iowa that as caucus goers were preparing to head to the polls his campaign sent them an urgent email blast. The email claimed that Dr. Ben Carson would be dropping out of the race and they should instead vote for Cruz. Of course, the email was a deliberate lie, but Cruz eked out an important first victory over the field.
Ted Cruz has been the great disrupter since he first entered the Senate following his victory in the 2012 election. He is very unpopular among other senators because of his brash and divisive polemics. He referred to other Republican senators as the "surrender caucus" because they did not sufficiently oppose President Barack Obama. Cruz accused his own Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling "a flat out lie" on the floor of the chamber. Cruz is single handedly responsible for the 2013 government shutdown by rallying gullible House Tea Party members against their leadership's better judgment.
Fellow Senator John McCain has called Cruz a "wacko bird" and crazy. In February, Senator Lyndsey Graham, a former presidential candidate, said, "If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you." Now, remarkably, Graham has joined those supporting Cruz as a way to keep Trump from winning the nomination outright. Their hope is that Trump will fail on the first ballot and some other candidate will emerge. But Cruz knows that, so he remains busy adding delegates using every trick in the book so he can be that some other candidate.
However, a word of caution to Cruz supporters, winning a party nomination is a lot different that winning the presidency. First, Cruz will have to unite a deeply divided convention, especially Trump delegates. Secondly, Cruz will have to moderate his extreme positions on everything from same sex marriage and abortion to immigration and "carpet bombing" ISIS. His economic plan is forecast to add trillions to the national debt by many economists, and will add thousands to the unemployment roles. His plan to eliminate the IRS is unrealistic and impractical. While he qualifies as a Latino, Cuban-Americans make up a small minority of the Hispanic population, which votes overwhelmingly Democratic. He will be challenged on his qualifications to run for president because he was born in Canada. His wife worked for Goldman Sachs, which is one reason Ron Paul observed in February, "He's owned by Goldman Sachs. I mean he and Hillary (Clinton) have more in common."
If Cruz makes it all the way to the White House, how will he unite his party? How will he persuade Democrats to work with him? How will his presidency bring an end to the gridlock on Capitol Hill? How will his emotive language and tough talk earn America more respect around the world? How will he bring Americans together? The simple answer is, he won't.
You see, Ted Cruz loves to hear Ted Cruz talk. His animated motions, hands thrusting down to emphasize his points, underscores the passion he has for himself. He projects a carefully crafted point and often punctuates it with a wry smile of self-appreciation, as if to say, "I'm amazing." He always speaks with the confidence of a man who believes he is the smartest person in the room.
Two years before he was elected the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln reportedly said, "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time." I am not sure Ted Cruz would agree with that.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Trumpmare Scenario

Donald Trump's campaign pledge is to "Make America Great Again."  Instead, if he is nominated, he may end up destroying the Republican Party.  

Trump's blustery, brash and in-your-face demeanor has attracted a large following of devoted acolytes that have lifted him to front-runner status for his party's nomination.    Ever the showman, Trump has gobbled up hours of free media time on television news outlets, which has resulted in huge ratings.  

Since he announced his candidacy last June in the opulent lobby of Trump Tower on New York's Fifth Avenue, he has overcome many political gaffes and consistently confounded political commentators who have many times predicted his demise.   At long last, though, it appears that the accumulated weight of his missteps has begun to drag on his campaign, and may have permanently damaged the Republican Party. 

Trump has referred to Mexicans and rapists.  He has promised to build a wall along the Mexican border, which he says Mexico will pay for.   He has pledged a mass deportation of all 11 million immigrants who are in this country illegally.   He has called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.   He has humiliated his opponent's wives, including Heidi Cruz and Columba Bush.  He has attacked journalists, including Univision's Jorge Ramos and Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, who each have millions of loyal viewers.

Trump has alienated women.  "Look at that face!" he said of then opponent Carly Fiorina.  "Would anyone vote for that?"  He has unapologetically supported his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who has been charged with battery for grabbing the arm of a female reporter at a rally.  And, in an apparent attempt to strengthen his bona fides as a pro-life candidate, he said that there has to be "some form of punishment" for women who have abortions.   He later recanted that position following a firestorm of protests, saying in a statement that if abortions were illegal, "The doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon women would be held legally responsible, not the women."

Trump has also alarmed our allies in Europe with is lack of understanding of foreign affairs and loose talk.  For instance, this exchange with MSNBC's Chris Matthews:     

Matthews: “Can you tell the Middle East we’re not using nuclear weapons?”

Trump: “I would never say that. I would never take any of my cards off the table.”
Matthews: “How about Europe? We won’t use in Europe?”
Trump: “I’m not going to take it off the table for anybody.”
Matthews: “You’re going to use it in Europe?”
Trump: “No! I don’t think so. But…”
Matthews: “Just say it, say ‘I’m not going to use a nuclear weapon in Europe’.”
Trump: “I am not taking cards off the table. I’m not going to use nukes – but I’m not taking any cards off the table.”
Trump rattled two Asian allies with comments he made in an interview with the New York Times. Trump said he would be open to allowing Japan and South Korea to build their own nuclear arsenals as protection against North Korea and China.  
Many leading Republicans have expressed concern that if Trump is their nominee in November they will lose the Senate and maybe the House.  Nerves are so frayed that Trump suddenly traveled to Washington to meet with leaders of the Republican National Committee Thursday.  It was described in news reports as a "unity meeting" because RNC officials were concerned after Trump withdrew his pledge to support whomever the party decides to make its nominee at the Republican convention.  
Will the Republican Party awaken from what University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato calls its "Trumpmare?  Will RNC Chairman Reince Priebus heed his own warning, given when the party released its autopsy of its overwhelming 2012 election defeat?  "The RNC cannot and will not write off any demographic or community or region of this country," Priebus said.
A recent Reuters poll, taken before Trump's comments on abortion, found that 50 percent of American women hold a very unfavorable view of Trump.  Meanwhile, a Gallup Poll shows that 77 percent of Hispanics have an unfavorable view of him.  Overall, Trump's unfavorables are above 60 percent in all the recent polls, and they do not factor in his most recent gaffes.  
Trump's shadow hangs over the Republican Party.  Even if a contested Republican convention selects another nominee, the party has been badly hurt.  Priebus might reflect on the line from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, "The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars, but in ourselves."

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Judge Merrick Garland

President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, is described as brilliant and eminently qualified to serve on the Supreme Court by both Republicans and Democrats.  In making his announcement, President Obama described Garland as, "someone who brings to his work a spirit of decency, modesty, integrity, even-handedness and excellence."   But, unfortunately Garland's superb qualifications will not matter. 

Garland is currently the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court.  He is a native Chicagoan, and was the valedictorian of his high school class.  In 1974, he was valedictorian of his Harvard class, where he graduated with an A.B. summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in social studies.  He then attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1977 with a J.D. magna cum laude.  He was also a member of the Harvard Law Review.   He was a clerk for Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, and took a job as a federal prosecutor during President George H. W. Bush's administration.  

 In 1993, Garland joined the Clinton administration as deputy assistant attorney general in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Subsequently, he did an outstanding job supervising the Oklahoma City bombing prosecutions, the UNABOM prosecution, and the Atlanta Olympics bombing investigation.  President Bill Clinton nominated Garland to the D.C. Circuit Court in 1997, and the Senate confirmed him by a 76-23 vote.  The 23 no votes were cast by Republicans who were opposed to an eleventh seat on the D.C. Circuit.   They included Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, who at the time said,  "I have nothing against the nominee.  Mr. Garland seems well qualified, and would probably make a good judge--in some other court." 

Judge Garland is generally viewed as "essentially the model, neutral judge" in his time on the D.C. Circuit.  He has twice been a finalist for open Supreme Court seats, earning praise from Republicans and Democrats.  The law has been a lifelong commitment for Garland, who emotionally described his nomination as "the greatest honor in my life, other than Lynn agreeing to marry me 28 years ago." 

In selecting Judge Garland, the president fulfilled his constitutional duty: "he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... judges of the Supreme Court." The Constitution does not say a president cannot nominate a justice if he has less than a year left in his or her presidency.  Nor does it say that the Senate must consider the president's nominee.  However, a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that 63 percent of Americans believe that the Senate should hold hearings on the president's nominee. 

Shortly following the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell abruptly declared, "this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”  In an unprecedented move, McConnell said the Senate would not consider a nominee.  In a letter published in USA Today Wednesday, McConnell wrote,  "As Vice President Biden said when he was Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, 'Once the political season is under way, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over.'” 

Then Senator Joe Biden's remarks were delivered on the Senate floor in June of 1992, after several fierce Supreme Court fights.  Biden also said he would support a future President George Bush nominee.  Last month, Biden released a statement that read, “Some critics say that one excerpt of my speech is evidence that I oppose filling a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year...This is not an accurate description of my views on the subject.

Nonetheless, the president, a constitutional lawyer, spent one month reviewing candidates prior to his announcement Wednesday.   "At a time when our politics are so polarized," the president said Wednesday, "this is precisely the time we should play it straight."  Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, who has been a supporter of Garland, may have been pleasantly surprised with the president's announcement.  Last week Hatch told Newsmax, "(Obama) could easily name Merrick Garland, who is a fine man."  He then added"He probably won’t do that because this appointment is about the election. So I’m pretty sure he’ll name someone the [liberal Democratic base] wants."   Hatch is among a handful of Republican Senators who say they will extend Garland the courtesy of a meeting.  

Because Scalia was such a powerful conservative voice in this nation, Republicans are determined to block Obama from filling the position.  Of course, since Obama's first day in office in 2009, Senator McConnell and Congressional Republicans have done all they can to block the president's agenda.  They have exacerbated the divisions within this country, and regularly played on people's worst fears instead of their hopes and dreams.  They have demonized and often disrespected President ObamaThey have consistently put their political party ahead of their country.   Their tactics have led to the emergence of Donald Trump. In fact, if Garland is not confirmed, the appointment could be filled by President Trump or President Hillary Clinton.

In accepting the president's nomination, a grateful Judge Garland said, "A life of public service is as much a gift to the person who serves as it is to those who he is serving."  He concluded, "there can be no higher public service than serving as a member of the United States Supreme Court."  That may be true, but he may never have a chance to do so.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Trump vs. Clinton

Republican Donald Trump was the big winner in presidential contests Tuesday in Michigan, Mississippi and Hawaii.   But former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton narrowly lost to Senator Bernie Sanders in Michigan because she underperformed with working-class white male voters, a group Trump does well with.   This portends a serious problem for Clinton should she face Trump in the November presidential election.

Trump's victories came at a time when many political pundits predicted that he was peaking in the polls.  Trump endured a massive advertising campaign financed by political action committees trying to knock him out.  He withstood attacks from leaders of the Republican establishment.  He even overcame perceived gaffes, including comparisons to Adolph Hitler.   Nothing could dissuade loyal Trump supporters from voting for him.
Anger is the fuel of Trump-mania.  Many Republican voters are totally fed up with the gridlock in Washington.  Many dislike President Barack Obama, but many feel betrayed by Republicans in Congress who have not fulfilled their promises.  And no group is more angry than working-class voters who feel left behind.   From 1973 to 2013, the hourly wages of middle-wage workers were stagnant, rising just 6 percent, or less than .02 percent per year.   Meanwhile, the annual wages for the top 1 percent have grown 138 percent since 1979.  

Jobs are also an important issue for voters this election.  While Michigan employment has been increasing over the past four years, it has only recovered 40 percent of the industrial jobs lost during the recession.   The North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, which was signed by President Bill Clinton, has resulted in nearly a quarter-million lost manufacturing jobs in Michigan. Senator Sanders and Trump both have been harshly critical of NAFTA and the recent proposal Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Clinton only recently announced her opposition to.

Trump has appealed to millions of disheartened Americans without having to provide much in the way of specifics on issues.  He is a brash outsider who many voters think "tells it like it is."   They are fed up with U.S. immigration policy.  Despite a lack of details, they believe Trump will deport eleven million immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally, and they believe he will build a wall along the Mexican border and get Mexico to pay for it.   Voters have overlooked the growing scandal surrounding Trump University, his petulant name calling and personal insults, and even his flip flops on key issues.  

Trump will need to get 60 percent of the remaining delegates in the upcoming presidential contests in order to reach the 1237 delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination.  Given his surprising performance Tuesday, and the fact that he has won so many southern states, where Texas Senator Ted Cruz was favored, and he is doing well among evangelicals and conservatives, it will be hard to stop him from achieving his goal.   In fact, Trump has already begun the task of mending fences with the GOP establishment.  

On the other hand, given her huge lead in the delegate count, it is very likely that Hillary Clinton will get her party's nomination.  Her closely contested race with Sanders is but a tepid warmup for her likely clash with Donald Trump.   Trump will relentlessly attack Clinton on foreign policy, like Libya and Benghazi, on women's issues, on President Bill Clinton's affairs, on the Clinton foundation, on emails, on Goldman Sachs speaking fees, and more.  
Trump has had a major impact on the large Republican primary turn out so far, and on mobilizing working-class voters, as well as independents and Democrats.  These are the voters Clinton will need to be elected president in November, especially in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Illinois.  While recent polls indicate that Clinton beats Trump in a head to head match up, it would be wise not to bet against Donald Trump.

On the other hand, in his book, The Art of the Deal, Trump wrote, "You can't con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole."  He concluded, "But if you don't deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on."   Can Donald Trump deliver the goods?  

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Supreme Court Showdown

Once a lame duck president called upon the Senate to, "Join together in a bipartisan effort to fulfill our constitutional obligation of restoring the U.S. Supreme Court to full strength."  He also called on the Senate for, "Prompt hearings conducted in the spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship."  In February 1988, eight months before that year's presidential election, the Senate voted 97-0 to confirm President Ronald Reagan's nominee, Anthony Kennedy.  

President Reagan, the founding father of the modern Republican Party, governed recognizing that the American democratic system calls for compromise.   He is quoted as telling aides, "I'd rather get 80 per cent of what I want than go over the cliff with my flag flying."   Reagan and then Democratic Speaker Tip O'Neill respectfully worked together in the best interest of the American people, just the way our Founding Fathers had originally envisioned. 

So when conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly earlier this month, President Barack Obama announced his intention to fulfill his constitutional obligation to put forth a Supreme Court nominee.  In a post on the ScotusBlog website Wednesday, the president wrote the person he nominates will the eminently qualified.  "I seek judges who approach decisions without any particular ideology or agenda," he wrote, "but rather a commitment to impartial justice, a respect for precedent, and a determination to faithfully apply the law to the facts at hand."

But Senate Republicans announced that there would be a no confirmation hearing and no vote on the president's nominee.  "This nominee will be determined by whoever wins the presidency in the polls," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said to reporters Tuesday.  "In short, there will not be action taken."  As a justification, Republicans cited a June 1992 quote from then Senator Joe Biden, who said, "President Bush should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not--not--name a nominee until after the November election is completed."  However, Biden's comments were not made in February, but rather in late June, shortly before Congress's summer recess.  And Biden was speaking of a possible resignation, not a sudden death. 

Battles between the political parties over Supreme Court nominees have been increasingly contentious in recent history.  Nonetheless, in a shocking and unprecedented move, McConnell said would not even meet with Obama's nominee.  "I don't know the purpose of such a visit," he told reporters.

By making such a move, Senate Republicans are once again showing their utter contempt for President Obama.   More importantly, they are once again demonstrating that their most important priority is winning political victories and settling scores rather than complying with the Constitution.   Republicans think that by calling Obama the most divisive president ever, voters will overlook the fact that it is really the GOP that has been the great divider.  

On the day Obama was first sworn in 2008, Republican leaders held a meeting in which they agreed to block Obama and make him a one term president.  Of course, Republicans have since consistently done all they could to gum up the works.  For instance, they blocked immigration reform, they shut the federal government down in 2012 over whether to raise the federal debt ceiling, they have blocked dozens of important judicial appointments, and they did nothing to silence the Obama birther movement.  

However, as a consequence of endless Republican obstructionism, voters are frustrated and angry with Washington.  This has led to the rise of Donald Trump as a Republican presidential candidate, and a civil war within the party.  Meanwhile, Obama, despite of all the impediments he has faced these past seven years, has made real headway on the economy, banking reform, equal pay for women, health care, and he has kept the country safe.  

The president intends on nominating a replacement for Scalia.  A Fox News poll released Monday found that nearly two-thirds of those surveyed believe that Obama should make a nomination and the Senate should take action.   Despite their bluster, Senate Republican leaders should allow the president's candidate to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee.  If the candidate is affirmed there, the Republican controlled Senate should take up the nomination.  For Senate Republicans to declare that they won't even meet with the candidate goes against the constitution, and it seems childish.  What do they fear?

Perhaps they should reflect on the words of their spiritual leader, "There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers," Ronald Reagan said.  "We must have the courage to do what is morally right."