Tea-party Republicans known for obstructionism don’t care about the governmental process.
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran surely understood as much before he commented on President Barack Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Merrick Garland.
Fueled by tea-party sentiment, other Senate Republicans say Obama’s choice should be ignored in an election year, and the next president should nominate a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
During a recent town hall meeting in Cimarron, the senator from Kansas saw it differently.
“I would rather have you (constituents) complaining to me that I voted wrong on nominating somebody than saying I’m not doing my job,” Moran told listeners. “I can’t imagine the president has or will nominate somebody that meets my criteria, but I have my job to do. I think the process ought to go forward.”
Moran’s remarks sent shock waves through a Republican Party already mired in dysfunction due in part to the ascension of GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump. Their overreaction to Moran suggesting that he and fellow senators should do their job was ridiculous, especially as Moran never said he would embrace Obama’s nominee.
That said, our senator hardly deserves applause for wanting to do his job. Moran himself has too often cozied up to tea-party Republicans who’d rather block everything Obama than govern.
Still, conservative groups turned on Moran with a vengeance, which begs the question: What’s to fear in hearings and a vote on confirmation?
Once hit with the criticism, Moran argued he had a duty to ask tough questions and demand answers of Obama’s nominee, as a way to “expose Judge Garland’s record and judicial philosophy, and disqualify him in the eyes of Kansans and Americans.”
But Garland is far from liberal (some Democrats decried Obama’s choice). Garland also was confirmed for his current federal bench post with high praise from conservative Republicans.
Republicans’ mistake was in declaring its opposition before a nominee even was named.
They want the Supreme Court vacancy to help build support for their side in this year’s general election. With a GOP in disarray, such a strategy likely would backfire.
U.S. senators should, as Moran said, just do their job.