Is there no level of hypocrisy to which Republican candidates for president — every one of them — will not stoop?
I thought I had seen the depths of their duplicity in the 2012 campaign when they were hypothetically asked by a show of hands whether they would support a tax increase if it were accompanied by a tenfold decrease in government expenditures. It should have been obvious to anyone with a grade school understanding of arithmetic, that the idea conformed very effectively to Republican orthodoxy (even if not economic good sense) demanding a balanced federal budget. And you don’t need to be an economist to appreciate the dramatic decrease in deficit spending that would result from such a bargain. But no! Because one out of every eleven dollars of deficit reduction would come from a tax increase, the hypocritical as well as mindless response was a show of hands in perfect unison rejecting the proposition.
But now they have outdone themselves in self-degradation, as every Republican candidate, as well as their congressional leadership, has demanded that the president forego his constitutional responsibility to nominate a successor to Supreme Court Justice Scalia. And if he doesn’t, they make it unanimously clear that Republicans in the Senate should ignore the president and the Constitution by refusing to bring the nomination to a vote.
Their so-called reasoning that a president in the last stage of his incumbency should leave this responsibility it to his successor defies not only the imagination but also all precedent since no president has ever before done so. But what is totally hypocritical is that it violates the very principle of “originalism” that Justice Scalia championed, and to which every one of the Republican candidates bobs his head in agreement — that the Constitution is not to be interpreted according to current values, opinions and events as much as by what the original Framers believed and intended. And that, in the case of a Supreme Court vacancy, could not be more clear, more unequivocal, more specific, more unambiguous and less subject to interpretation as stated in Article II of the Constitution and nowhere else discussed much less mitigated by the time in office remaining to a president.
More than just a mind-boggling irony, it is yet another act of blatant hypocrisy that every Republican candidate for president, along with the Republican Majority Leader of the Senate now finds it convenient to ignore the most prominent tenet of Justice Scalia’s legacy, to which all of them have paid repeated obeisance.
I must admit that adding to the irony is my belief that “originalism” is in fact elaborate intellectual nonsense designed to rationalize an unwillingness to deal with the virtues (or debilitations) of the inevitable changes in societal values and mores and their impact on the concept of justice. It is a philosophy akin to the fundamentalism of literal interpretation of scripture, which I somehow doubt was in the minds and hearts of the Framers. But that’s another blog (or rant as the case may be). Suffice it to say that in this case, the original intent of the Framers is clearly not debatable and has never been discarded until this latest outburst of pure hypocrisy motivated by nothing more nor less than their visceral hatred of Barack Obama.
To paraphrase a question asked many years ago of another prominent Republican addled by hatred and hypocrisy, whose ethic seems very much alive in today’s Republican debates: Have you left no sense of shame?