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Senate Republicans capable of embarrassment after all

Congressional Republicans generally strut, confident in their unapologetic righteousness. But asked to defend their Supreme Court blockade, they run away.
Snow begins to gather on a statue outside the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, Dec. 10, 2013.
Snow begins to gather on a statue outside the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, Dec. 10, 2013.
As a rule, congressional Republicans are, in a rather literal sense, shameless. They take quite a bit of pride in their issue positions, their partisan tactics, and their far-right ideology. Regardless of criticisms, election results, policy analyses, or any other considerations, GOP lawmakers hold their heads high -- confident in their unapologetic righteousness.
At least most of the time, that is.
The Republicans' decision to impose a Supreme Court blockade against any President Obama nominee, sight unseen, without regard for qualifications, is an obstructionist tactic unlike anything seen in American history. And in an interesting twist, GOP lawmakers don't seem altogether proud of themselves.
On Tuesday, for example, reporters waited outside the Senate chamber, eager to speak to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) about the unfolding scandal. The New York Times reported that the Iowa Republican, upon leaving the chamber, "raised a binder to cover his face before hurriedly retreating."
No "Profile in Courage" award for you, Chuck.
Of course, it's not just the troubled Judiciary Committee chairman feeling uneasy about trying to defend the indefensible. The Huffington Post reported yesterday on the case of bashfulness that's broken out among the Republican ranks.

As Democrats tried to raise the pressure on their recalcitrant colleagues on Thursday by accusing them of abandoning their responsibility to the Constitution, Republicans on Capitol Hill were ducking and dodging reporters' questions on what's shaping up to be one of the biggest battles in Washington. Several senators ran away from The Huffington Post this week as we tried to ask if they thought a Supreme Court nominee should get a hearing.

You don't need a lot of Capitol Hill experience to know confident senators don't flee questions about an ongoing controversy.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said she had to "go vote," even though she could have talked as she walked to an elevator down the hall. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) didn't even let HuffPost get the full question out before saying, "I don't do hallway interviews." Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) said he had to "run to a meeting" and disappeared into an elevator. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) listened to the question and, with a blank look, said, "I'm not doing any interviews." [...] Asked about his signature on a letter stating that Obama's nominee shouldn't get a hearing or a vote, [Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)] reiterated he did not wish to discuss the subject.

That's just a sampling. Others were equally reluctant to defend their own party's tactics.
It's an unusual posture for the party. Indeed, most of the time, it seems Senate Republicans aren't capable of embarrassment at all.
But that's how ridiculous the GOP's Supreme Court blockade is. We've finally seen a partisan tantrum so extreme that congressional Republicans themselves are reluctant to even try to defend it.