If we’re being brutally honest here, Senator, the invocation of the so-
called “Biden rule” in 2015 was more about frustrating Barack Obama more
than anything else, since the expectation was that Hillary would cruise to
the Presidency in 2016 and then would either re-nominate Merrick Garland or
put up her own (probably more liberal) pick. Once the GOP field took shape,
conventional wisdom held that Trump’s ascendancy was the death knell for any
hope of taking the White House, making that play the political equivalent of
betting the family home on filling an inside straight.
Incredibly, the bet paid off.
So when Trump won, your party took a page from the GOP playbook, dug in its
heels and vowed to “resist” at every turn. The fight over Neil Gorsuch’s
nomination in place of Garland was no exception; unfortunately for you,
Harry Reid had already “gone nuclear” in the 2013 tussle over the DC
Circuit, and it wasn’t a big leap to see that happening for SCOTUS
nomination — the only red line left uncrossed.
Now the smart play would have been to take the finger off the big red
button, and let Gorsuch through. After all, he was a replacement for Scalia
and the ideological balance of the Court wasn’t at stake; his elevation
would merely restore the delicate 4-4-1 balance that had been in place since
Bush II. Confirming Gorsuch (or, more accurately, not contesting his
appointment) would have given the Democrats significant political capital in
the public eye, and saved the ultimate weapon for when it really mattered;
when a liberal (or Kennedy) left the bench.
But no, your party leadership decided to be the mighty oak, standing proudly
against the storm, despite prudence dictating a more “reed-like” approach.
Bent egos and wounded pride coupled with an astonishing lack of foresight
led you to make your stand, with predictable results. It was, in truth, the political
equivalent of Pickett’s Charge, both psychologically and strategically.
Now you find yourself at the commencement of what will be one of the most
influential Court picks in decades with no leverage but your tired, overworked
outrage… and nobody to blame except yourselves. You’re going to have all the
effectiveness of spectators in the Senate Gallery as the balance of the Court shifts
for a generation, at least.