The Breakfast Table

Is the GOP going to get away with blocking Merrick Garland?

Entry 5: Is the GOP Going to Get Away With Blocking Merrick Garland?

Merrick Garland.
Is Merrick Garland one of the only grown-ups here?

Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

I agree completely that the trifecta of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Merrick Garland represents something that is vanishing in American public life. They are all grown-ups. I also agree that it is unfortunate that to get to be a grown up in American public life seems to mean going to a handful of select schools and serving in a narrowing number of elite jobs. It seems to me that when the most withering criticism directed at Obama’s pick from the GOP objectors is that he is being fake-reasonable by tapping a fake-reasonable nominee, the jig is up. And when the broad GOP response to the prospect of vetting Garland is some version of “we like him far too much to knock the stuffing out of him,” it becomes pretty clear which side looks like the grown-ups and which side looks like Nelson Muntz.


With their current levels of obstruction and threats, Senate Republicans are basically saying: Nice little nominee you’ve got there Mr. President. … Be a shame if something happens to him.

All of which raises the question of how this plays outside the capital. All four of us agree that Garland is smart and well-qualified, but I do find myself wondering whether it even matters much. As Mike notes, Obama’s objective here was to point out that Supreme Court vacancies should be considered through the lens of merit and reason. But has Obama managed to change the conversation, about separating partisan politics from the court, or have we all become too partisan to have it? I keep wondering how the prospect of senators hiding under their desks to avoid having to shake Garland’s hand will play out in the world, but I am not sure I know yet. Thoughts?

Read more on Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.