Jeffrey Toobin on the late Antonin Scalia: charming and brilliant — but a force for progress?  Mmmm . . . no.

And yes of course the President should appoint a replacement, as the Constitution requires.  Here is his exceptionally thoughtful statement on how he’ll go about it.

(And here: conservative commentators blasting the Republican vow to reject anyone he picks.)

Yes, yes . . . “Barack Obama has been a disaster for this country.”  Republicans have been saying that from Day One — a “stupid, stupid” leader who has made the worst deals the Republican front-runner has seen in his entire life.  A child could make better deals.

Things are horrible in America!

But does that relieve the President of the responsibility to appoint a ninth Justice?

Just because we’ve all lost dozens of friends and relatives to Ebola and terrorism home prices continue to fall and no one can even afford a full tank of gas — does that mean the President no longer has the authority and obligation to fill Court vacancies?

But — and this is the point Republicans want to stress — things are horrible.

Have you seen Marco Rubio’s ad?  Its stock footage actually depicts Canada (oops).  But forget that little gotcha — what about its substantive assertions?

It begins:

“More men and women are out of work than ever before in our nation’s history.”


With nearly triple the population we had during the Depression — and an aging population at that — if you count all the out-of-work 80- and 90-year-olds maybe there’s some crazy way to turn this chart upside down.  But I doubt it.  A more accurate statement would be that “thanks to 71 consecutive months of private employment growth, the 10% unemployment rate at the peak of the Great Bush Recession Bush has been cut to 4.9%.”  And would be more robust still if the Republicans hadn’t blocked three measures a majority of Americans wanted and economists agreed would add juice to the economy: the American Jobs Act, to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure; a higher minimum wage; and the comprehensive immigration reform that Rubio himself voted for but now decries.

Next:  “People pay more taxes than they will for food, clothing, and housing combined.” 


Some people do — billionaires, most dramatically.  But come on.  Here‘s one stab at the average household budget: 29% on housing, food, and clothing versus 12% on taxes.  On what planet is 12% more than 29%?

And by the way?  Those taxes go mainly for things people really want:  schools and roads and the world’s strongest military.  And the Medicare they want the government to keep its hands off.  And Social Security!  And disaster relief!  And interest on the trillions in debt that the Reagan/Bush tax-cuts-for-the-rich have racked up.

Speaking of which, the ad concludes: “Nearly $20 trillion in debt for the next generation.  Double what it was just 8 years ago.”


Reagan/Bush inherited a National Debt under $1 trillion and quadrupled it, handing Clinton a $4 trillion debt.  Clinton tamed the deficit and handed Bush 43 “surpluses as far as the eye could see.”

Bush 43 slashed taxes on wealthy investors, needlessly invaded Iraq, and handed Obama a near-depression, $10 trillion in National Debt, and a $1.5 trillion deficit (so, basically, a $11.5 trillion Debt.)  Obama averted the depression, cut the deficit by two-thirds, and got the Debt once again growing more slowly than the economy as a whole.

So all three assertions in Rubio’s ad are misleading at best.

Things are not horrible.

There are supposed to be nine Justices on the Court.

How about Judge Sri Srinivasan to replace Scalia?  He spent five years working for George W. Bush’s Solicitor General.  In private practice, he represented Enron’s king-pin.  The Senate confirmed him 97-0 to the D.C. Circuit Court.

The Republicans might be wise to advise and consent to a moderate candidate like that because their refusal might not sit well with voters and the next President, if a Democrat, might nominate someone they’d like less.

(And Senate just might change hands by then, to boot. On Duckworth! on Feingold!  on Kander and Strickland!  on Hassan and Bassan* and Grayson or Murphy!)

Anyway: read the Toobin piece if you’d like perspective on the late Justice Scalia.  And the President’s statement if you’d like to be reminded what a remarkable man we elected and reelected and would almost surely if it were legal elect a third time.

*A made-up candidate, for the rhyme.



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