I wrote an item last week on Senate Republicans acting as if they don’t remember any of the events surrounding Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination two years ago. I was being quite literal: GOP senators really do seem to have some kind of mental block that prevents them from acknowledging – or even understanding – what they did.
And perhaps no politician has captured this politically convenient amnesia better than Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), whose fury over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination has made him a new darling of the right, but who continues to keep the Garland nomination in a blind spot.
Take these comments Graham made yesterday at an Atlantic Ideas forum.
“If a Republican had said, ‘Why are you doing this? We’re trying to hold the seat open to get past the midterms, so we can take power back,’ the Republican who said that couldn’t go five feet in this town without having 100 reporters in their face.
“So the double-standard here offends me.”
It’s interesting that Graham would use the phrase “double standard” given the circumstances.
Let’s jog some memories. In early 2016, after Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) suggested then-President Barack Obama nominate Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court. The Democratic president took the advice and sent Garland to the Senate for consideration.
Senate Republicans – including Graham – refused to give the compromise nominee so much as a hearing. What’s more, they made little effort to hide their motivations: GOP senators made it painfully clear that they were holding the seat open to get past the 2016 election, hoping they’d take back power.
Making matters slightly worse, these senators not only held open the Supreme Court vacancy for a year, several Republicans said that if voters elected another Democratic president, they were prepared to leave that vacancy open until 2021, at the earliest.
Graham gladly went along with his party’s unprecedented scheme – as best as I can tell, he never raised any public objections to his colleagues’ plan to keep open a high court vacancy for four years – and the senators orchestrating the gambit never had 100 reporters in their face.
The South Carolinian can whine incessantly about a “double standard,” but it exists only in his imagination.
Daily Kos’ Carolyn Fiddler yesterday coined the phrase “Merrick Garlandnesia.” It’s an annoying condition, which appears to be contagious in far-right circles.