In an interview with NPR, President Obama told tantruming Republicans in the Senate that they have failed to make a coherent argument for their obstruction, and they are not going to get their way one hundred percent of the time.
Are you taking this on the road?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, you know, I’m going to make the case — I’m going to make the case for a fair process. Give Judge Garland a hearing; give him a vote. And look at the qualities of the man. That’s what the American people expect. And, you know, one of the most puzzling arguments that I’ve heard from Mitch McConnell and some other Republicans is this notion that the American people should decide — we should let the American people decide, as part of this election, who gets to fill this seat.
Well in fact, the American people did decide, back in 2012 when they elected me president of the United States with sufficient electoral votes. And they also decided that the Republicans would be in the majority. They didn’t say, “We’re going to decide that you’re in charge for three years, and then in the last year you all take a break.” They said, “No, you’re the president for four years, and Mr. McConnell, you’re going to be the leader, because we’ve given you a majority in the Senate.”
So the American people already have decided. They’ve already weighed in. They will have another opportunity to weigh in, so that if there is another vacancy that comes up, the next president will fill that vacancy.
The bottom line is that there has not been a coherent argument presented. The real argument is the one that you made, Nina, which is that they don’t want a Democrat filling the seat, and they are worried and scared about their political base punishing them if they allow a Democrat to fill the seat.
But one of the things that’s broken down in our politics is a recognition that you don’t always get your way 100 percent of the time. And sometimes in the integrity of the institution and the process and governance, and the interests of the American people actually matter more than your short-term politics. They actually matter more than doing what is politically expedient. And there have been a number of times where, as president of the United States, I’ve had to do things that I knew were bad politics but I understood were important to the country or important to the institution of the presidency.
And I would expect that the senators who’ve been elected by their constituents will find in themselves the kind of respect for this incredible democratic experiment that our founders crafted, that they’re not going to want to see it continue to degenerate into just a bunch of poll-driven, negative-ad-driven, polarized name-calling, because that’s not what made us the greatest country on Earth.
President Obama has been forced to play the parent to the Republican-controlled Congress because lawmakers in the majority refuse to accept that they can’t always have their way. The “my way or no way” attitude of elected Republicans has its root in a Republican electorate that views compromise as defeat. Obama nailed it. Republican voters punish their candidates for suggesting any compromise with Democrats.
The interesting aspect of this behavior is that it came from the Republican Party itself. It was the Republican leadership who sat down and decided as soon as President Obama arrived in Washington that they were going to obstruct everything. Republicans preached to their supporters that obstruction was victory, and Obama achieving anything was defeat.
Once Republicans started losing to President Obama on their own terms, their voters saw this as a failure of the Congress that they elected. Obama’s success has made a segment of the Republican Party feel like losers, which has led to the rise of Donald Trump, who is campaigning on a belief that America doesn’t win anymore, and by America Trump means the Republicans.
When viewed from this perspective, Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s obstruction of the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court is proof that Republicans have not learned anything.
Republicans still believe that destructive tantrums are their path to victory. What they don’t get is that voters have grown tired of their antics, and will be grounding many of them from serving in the Congress any longer on Election Day. Behavior has consequences, and Republicans will be personally feeling the consequences of their obstructionist decisions this November.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association