The ongoing stories surrounding the Supreme Court vacancy and Donald Trump’s possible presidential nomination are not entirely unrelated. In fact, as many have noted this week, the two intersect when we recognize the fact that Senate Republicans may, in practical terms, be planning to keep the high court vacancy in place until 2017 in order to let Trump fill it.
But that’s not the only intersection. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) spoke on the Senate floor this week about how these two seemingly unrelated stories appear to be two sides of the same coin:
“[Republican senators’] response to one of the most solemn and consequent tasks that our government performs, the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice, will be to pretend that the nominee and President Obama himself simply do not exist. Cannot see them, cannot hear them.“At the same time, that they are blocking all possible Supreme Court nominees, Senate Republicans are in panic because their party seems to be on the verge of nominating one of two extremists for president – two candidates who think nothing about attacking the legitimacy of their political opponents and demeaning millions of Americans, two candidates whose extremism, Republicans worry, will lead their party to defeat in November.“Now, these are not separate issues. They are the same issue. If Republican senators want to stand up to extremists running for president, they can start right now by standing up to extremists in the Senate. They can start by doing what they were elected to do right here in the Senate. They can start by doing their jobs.”
It’s an important point: radicalism begets radicalism. When Senate Republicans launch an unprecedented blockade against an unknown Supreme Court nominee – a gambit with no foundation in the American experience – simply because of their contempt for President Obama, they’re helping reinforce the very political extremism that has allowed Donald Trump to do so well in the GOP nominating contest.
Rachel interviewed Warren last night, and the senator fleshed out the thesis in more detail.
If you missed the segment, it’s well worth your time. For those who can’t watch clips online, here’s an excerpt from the transcript:
“Look, what’s the problem with the two guys they’ve got at the top right now with Donald Trump and with Ted Cruz? These are both people who basically deny the legitimacy of their opponents. They go on the attack. They demean millions of Americans.“And that’s what identifies them as extremists and why Republicans – man, Republicans in the Senate are breaking apart over this. And yet, what have Republicans in the Senate been doing since the very day that Barack Obama was sworn in? They have given in to their extremists. In fact, they have nursed their extremists along. […]“They are paying the price for their own extremism. It has now taken them by the throat. And so, when they stand up in the Senate and say, ‘Oh, my gosh, what’s going to happen to us? We now may have a presidential nominee who is so extreme that he will pull us over the edge electorally and cause us a disaster in November.’ The answer is: guys, this is what you did to yourselves. If you really want to stop it, stop it right now. Stand up and do your job.”
That’s reasonable advice, which Warren’s GOP colleagues will very likely ignore.