On Thursday night, I tweeted out a clip of Bernie Sanders, without commentary, that showed him making a little bit of news by saying that he supports President Obama's nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, but if the vacancy persists until after the election, and Sanders were to win, he would ask Obama to withdraw the nod from a lame duck session and allow Sanders to select a nominee:
Yes, I would. I think I’m 100% prepared to support Judge Garland. I think he’s clearly very knowledgeable and can serve ably on the Supreme Court. But between you and me, I think there are some more progressive judges out there. I have said over and over again that I do have a litmus test for a Supreme Court justice, and that litmus test is that justice must be loud and clear in telling us that he or she will vote to overturn this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision. I am very worried about the future of American democracy and about the ability of billionaires to buy elections. T
I wanted to send the video out right away, but didn't write any commentary about it until the next day, and in the meantime, my Twitter feed exploded with two kinds of comments, and only two.
The overwhelming majority of them were from Hillary/Obama supporters who just destroyed Bernie for "undermining" President Obama, or far worse, including being a sunburned "Pollack," whatever that means.
The other kind, perhaps buoyed by a sensible and positive retweet from Bernie-backer Cenk Uygur, consisted of Bernie supporters absolutely taking apart the nomination of Judge Garland because he's not progressive enough. There was nothing in between.
Neither side has a very good grip on political reality here, but what I found surprising was the sheer volume of those anti-Bernie tweets, when his response was exactly what you would expect any Democrat left of Joe Manchin to say. If an exact clone of Barack Obama were running for president, I'd expect him to answer the same way, and he'd lose my vote if he didn't.
Look, there are two main reasons President Obama nominated Garland, the first being that he's a qualified jurist who would shift the balance of the court, for the most part, if he were confirmed, and the second is to make Republican look even stupider than they already do for refusing to consider him. He's a consensus pick who has been warming the bench for years in case Obama had to get a nominee past a Republican-controlled Senate. Criticizing this pick is extraordinarily stupid because a. no other pick would have a chance at confirmation, and b. he has very little chance of being confirmed. If you didn't want a moderate pick, you should've turned out in 2014.
But criticizing Bernie here is also extraordinarily stupid, because even President Obama would not have picked Garland if he hadn't been constricted by a Republican Senate. If Bernie or Hillary is elected in November, it will likely be with a flipped Senate that could confirm Cecile Richards to the Supreme Court if it wanted to, and after a year of obstruction by the Republicans, they would want to.
Allowing Republicans to confirm Garland in a lame duck after they've already lost their bet would be extraordinarily weak and stupid, and President Obama is neither of those things.
However, for purposes of this nominating fight, the White House must exercise rigid message discipline that acknowledges none of these political realities, which is why they are saying that if Garland still isn't confirmed by the end of President Obama's term, he would advise Hillary or Bernie (or Donald Trump) to re-nominate Garland:
We'll see how this plays out. I actually think President Obama has a great shot at getting Garland confirmed, especially if Trump passes 1237 delegates. Personally, I think he should tell Republican now that if Garland isn't confirmed by July 1, he's withdrawing him. Make them place their bets before the dice hit the table.
But what this whole thing has really shown me is that our side has lost all perspective. Bernie is not the bad guy, and neither is Hillary, and Obama is definitely not. I could sort of understand the intramural bitterness in 2008, where you had historic divisions between the candidates that were aggravated by an extraordinarily bitter campaign, but I do not understand why, in 2016, you have to hate Bernie Sanders in order to support Hillary Clinton, or vice versa. It's not bloody reasonable, and we're supposed to be the reasonable ones.