Grassley: No “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” Anymore

Our embarrassing senior senator from Iowa, Chuck Grassley, has once again become a pawn in the Republican establishment’s plan to oppose everything Barack Obama proposes, no matter how sane and rational it is. This time it is refusing even to consider Merrick Garland to succeed Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court.

There was a time when Senator Grassley was seen by many here as a kind of “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” figure, an farmer who would bring common sense Iowa values to Washington and stand for integrity and independence in the political process. That time has long past. With the rise of conservative evangelicals in our state, the moderate, fiscally conservative but socially liberal Republicanism of the past has all but disappeared. Grassley has moved increasingly to the right as his time, and his power, in the Senate has increased.

This GOP strategy may indeed backfire as I believe Hillary Clinton will defeat Donald Trump in the general election (after what will likely be the nastiest presidential campaign in recent memory…maybe ever).  If, when she is in the White House, Ms. Clinton has been able to recover enough Senate seats to make up a majority in the House, she will either bring back Merrick Garland and shove him down the Republicans’ throat or appoint a judge so progressive that they will rue the day they refused this good man even a hearing. Either way, the balance of the Court will begin to shift to the Left. And she will probably have two more appointments to make…maybe three.

The saddest thing about this entire episode is that it makes crystal clear why so many people, especially young people, are disenchanted with Washington and no longer believe that anyone there stands for principle, but only make decisions based on political calculations that will increase their power and influence and job security.

This drives those on the Left toward Bernie Sanders who is a man of complete integrity and principle (however unworkable his specific plans may be) and those on the Right toward, God help us, Donald Trump who, for some reason, appears to them to be a person who says exactly what he thinks and will do exactly as he pleases regardless of the political fallout (this, despite the fact that everything Trump does is to advance his own power, influence, and agendas as well.)

I do not hold the Democrats blameless in this state of affairs by any means. Although there are significant differences between the current Republican refusal to give Garland a hearing and speeches both the President and Vice President gave while young senators suggesting a similar reluctance to approve Supreme Court appointees by a president in the midst of an election season, in the common mind they represent the same “politics over principle” approach abhorred by so many today. And, the Democrats’ unwillingness to acknowledge this does not help matters.

Provided Secretary Clinton is elected President, the Republicans lose either way. Either they will consent to Merrick Garland’s nomination in a lame duck succession or give their consent to him (or someone even more progressive) in 2017.

Of course, in the unlikely event that Donald Trump gets elected, we will all have such great national catastrophes to face, that appointees to the Supreme Court will be the least of our worries!

 

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