There is little doubt that in introducing Merrick Brian Garland as his Supreme Court nominee, President Obama cleverly employed the judge's work in prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombers. With that "law and order" rhetoric, Elias Isquith argues, Obama is taking a traditional conservative issue and "driving that wedge as deep into the GOP coalition as he can."
"In this (i.e., pre-election) scenario," Isquith continues
it’s hard to see how Obama loses. If ratcheting up the pressure causes the GOP to cry uncle, then Garland ends up on the Supreme Court, giving liberals the majority for the first time in a generation. And if that pressure isn’t enough to get Garland a vote, it’s still going to cause the GOP even more internal strife than it’s experiencing already — which makes a Clinton victory more likely, too.
While it's conceivable that Garland is approved by the Senate in the next few months, it's hardly likely. And any "internal strife" the nomination causes the GOP won't account for a hill of beans in November. (Garland is 63 years old. At least he knows what "hill of beans" refers to.)
And if Clinton wins, then Obama has a few options. He can try to get Garland confirmed in a “lame-duck” session; or he can punish Republicans even further, as many liberals will no doubt advocate, by withdrawing Garland and letting Clinton pick an even more liberal nominee herself. Either way, the Supreme Court just got a lot more liberal; and the Republican Party just got a lot more demoralized and divided.
If Garland is not approved, Hillary Clinton wins the election, and President Obama withdraws Garland's nomination in favor of allowing a President Clinton to make a selection, a DNA test must be ordered. Barack Obama will have been whisked out of the White House without anyone noticing and replaced by a double.
Ironically, that is precisely why, as Isquith concludes
Republicans may prove just smart enough to take what Obama’s giving. But even if that happens, it wouldn’t change the subtly ruthless nature of the president’s gambit. You may disagree with the strategy — you may prefer firing up liberals to splitting Republicans — but there should be no question that Obama knows what he’s doing.
Barack Obama does know precisely what he is doing.... and knew what to do before anyone figured it out. Before Garland was tapped, the scenario laid out by the media, politicans, pundits, and virtually everyone was that the individual selected by the President would be denied a hearing or approved in a somewhat routine fashion. There was little or no talk of the possibility that he would be given serious consideration if, and only if, a Democrat were to be elected in November.
It is quite probable that President Obama foresaw this scenario. Even now, the question generally is framed as to whether Obama out-maneuvered the Republican Party or- conversely- the GOP will get what it wants by waiting till the truest lame-duck period, the time between the election and the convening of the new Congress. "They've been asking for him (Garland) for years," noted the National Constiution Center's Jeffrey Rosen, and the GOP has it within its power to get what it wants if a Clinton presidency looms. Democratic senators could be expected to fall in line and do as the President asks them to.
That is, of course, unless following a Clinton victory, Obama withdraws the nomination of the highly-respected centrist/moderate. However, given that his legacy then would include placing not three, but two, judges on the United States Supreme Court, that is improbable. And if, during the lame-duck period, Merrick Brian Garland is approved, both Barack Obama and the Republican Party will have won. That's not helpful for the cause of progressive change and of the Democratic Party, but it would mark a victory for a truly prescient president who values bipartisanship above all.