Some observers who share the all-but-universal conservative position that the Senate should not approve whomever Obama nominates to replace Scalia nonetheless say it could have been expressed with more politesse. Byron York, to pick just one example, tweeted yesterday:
Too late now, but imagine Republicans had said, post-Scalia, 'We look forward to working with the president on this issue.'
— Byron York (@ByronYork) February 15, 2016
Putting a more conciliatory face on the certain rejection wouldn’t have mollified the left, but it might have been taken as a positive sign by less-political, middle-of-the-road voters, and thus been marginally helpful to Republican senators up for re-election in purple states.
The problem is that such an approach would presuppose a certain level of trust between conservative voters and the Republican leadership. Such trust does not exist. After serial sell-outs and surrenders, you can excuse a conservative voter for assuming that the Senate GOP would supinely hand the Court – and the republic’s very future – over to Obama. That’s why Mitch McConnell released a statement so quickly asserting that no Obama nominee would be confirmed – his intended audience wasn’t the public at large, but his own voters. This distrust is why David was correct in observing that “Confirming an Obama Supreme Court Nominee Could Destroy the GOP“. (I’d replace the “could” with “would”.)
The Democrat base has its own suspicions about its leadership, but they are less serious. A leftist screecher might think Schumer, Leahy & company are too soft on Wall Street, for instance, but they have complete faith in their leaders’ relentless promotion of ever-more state power, subversion of all traditional moral norms, and erosion of the nation’s sovereignty and distinctiveness.
Conservative voters are right to suspect that much of their leadership holds the same views as the Democrats, just a little less fervently. That’s why Mitch McConnell couldn’t have put on a show of collegiality – none of his voters would have believed it was just an act.