With the death of Supreme Court Justice Scalia Senate Republicans are determined to deny President Obama the ability to appoint a new justice to the open seat. This closely follows House Republicans decision to completely ignore the President’s budget. While these are recent examples, they’re the apotheosis of McConnell’s long term political strategy to deny President Obama any opportunity to govern.
It would, of course, be unprecedented if the open Supreme Court were to remain open for almost a year. It was also unprecedented for the House of Representatives to simply ignore the President’s budget. The use of the filibuster when Democrats controlled the chamber was unprecedented as well. Republicans seem to have no qualms about opposing this President’s ability to shape domestic policy through any means necessary.
While much attention is paid to the heated rhetoric that is deployed against President Obama the despairingly effective campaign to nullify the fact of Obama’s Presidency in America has been much more damaging. Obama came into office with a desire to work across the aisle and achieve bipartisan success. With McConnell dead set against allowing any bipartisan success and Boehner unable to deliver his caucus on what he could negotiate, much of Obama’s domestic agenda was stymied.
Recognizing this and using the authority outlined for the executive to interpret rules, regulations, and direct resources he’s been able to move some portions forward but here he’s subject to the interpretation of the courts. This is where McConnell’s strategy has been most effective. President Obama was once slow in appointing justices to open circuit seats where he did however he’s found his appointees consistently blocked by filibusters. This is what prompted the Senate Democrats to adopt the nuclear option.
With the Presidential election near and campaign season upon us Republicans no longer feel obligated to make even cursory gestures towards acting as if President Obama is the President. After seven years of legislative innovation in blocking President Obama from exercising any influence domestically Republicans are now just preemptively saying no.