Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

Obama’s Bipartisanship & His Judicial Nominees

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A question for all the folks who have spent the past 2.5 years telling the rest of us how much of an 11-dimensional chess master Obama is as he carefully steers his agenda: How’s that working out with respect to judicial nominees?

The answer: terribly.

A new report by the Alliance for Justice shows that the GOP’s obstructionism was truly historic — the worst obstructionism any new president faced at any point in American history: [T]he Senate confirmed fewer of [Obama’s] district and circuit nominees than every president back to Jimmy Carter, and the lowest percentage of nominees – 58% – than any president in American history at this point in a President’s first term.

If a post-partisan approach to governing was going to work, don’t you think it would have worked by this point in Obama’s Presidency?  Instead, the opposite has occurred: Obama has capitulated on every major issue he promised to pursue on the 2008 campaign trail.  Those he hasn’t capitulated on haven’t even been pursued by the Obama administration.  And he wants 4 more years to do … what exactly?  Keep telling Republican Teabaggers they should work with him because that’s what the American people really want?  What a joke.  The teabaggers want to destroy Obama’s presidency, pure and simple.

To be fair, a fair amount of the blame for this pathetic situation is the lack of leadership from senior Senate Democrats.  They had the opportunity to take care of the unconstitutional actions brought about by the Republican Teabaggers back in January and decided they would rather see record  number of filibuster threats continue instead of upset the comity of the Senate (which doesn’t seem to exist if Teabaggers are filibustering everything in sight instead of participating in legitimate debate, but what do I know).

I’m starting to hear liberal friends try to argue that we have to make sure Obama is elected again in 2012 so he can put a liberal influence on the courts.  Since Republican Teabaggers mastered this concept years ago, they’re not about to allow Obama to derail their project to stuff the benches with right-wing reactionaries which has been largely successful to date.  If a record low number of Obama’s judicial nominees are approved, regardless of the needs of those benches, it really doesn’t matter if he’s re-elected.  He won’t hold the Teabaggers responsible for their intransigence in 2013 any more than he is in 2011.

Moreover, the chance that Obama will be re-elected doesn’t hinge on making a long-term impression on the court system, no matter how important that is.  What will matter is the state of the economy between now and Nov. 2012.  And this is where Obama’s lack of negotiation acumen comes into play.   By continually ceding ground on every issue to date, Obama has ensured that the U.S. economy will remain weak, if not fall into a double-dip recession, until late next year.  He gave the Teabaggers way too much without ensuring he got something worthwhile in return.  That’s going to be his legacy.  Our legacy will be a depressed economy.

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