Q&A Friday #22: What Can We Learn From The Bork Hearings?
Question: “What mistakes, if any, do you think the right made during the failed nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987, and what should they do differently this time in the event of another highly controversial nominee?” — maledicta
Answer: If you ask me, Bork was “Borked” for 3 reasons.
1) The Democrats did hit Bork early and often as an extremist & the GOP was slow to respond. Plus, that trick was newer back then. At this point, the Democrats have “cried wolf” about extremism so many times that the public now just writes it off as partisan wrangling.
2) Bork had a gruff manner and a “weird beard” that was off-putting to the public.
3) Most importantly by far, the Democrats had a 55-45 majority when Bork was rejected and Bork ended up losing 58-42.
What lessons can we learn from Bork? Here’s the most important one:
With a 55-45 majority in the Senate, Bush can slam anybody he wants down the Democrats throat and there’s not a thing in the world they can do about it other than organize a filibuster that would likely lead to the nuclear option.
That’s one of the reasons I hated the “gang-of-14” compromise so much. Had the Republicans in the Senate pulled the trigger on the nuclear option, anybody Bush picked would be a forgone conclusion to make it on the Supreme Court unless they pulled another “Bernard Kerik” with the vetting.
In any case, I think as long as Bush selects a nominee acceptable to the base, he’s in a very strong position and should be able to get any judge he wants confirmed without having to worry about political fall-out.
PS: I’m a huge Bork fan and I can only imagine how differently things would have turned out on the Supreme Court had Bork ended up there instead of his eventual replacement, Anthony Kennedy.