WELL, NOW WE KNOW WHO'LL REPLACE HILLARY IN A SECOND OBAMA TERM
Dick Lugar lost his Senate primary yesterday to death-before-compromise teabagger Richard Mourdock. Anne Laurie writes:
If only because he's eighty years old, I trust the Obama Administration to offer him no position beyond the purely ceremonial, despite the siren song of Centrism Triumphant.
Really? I hope that's the case, but I could easily see Lugar being chosen as Hillary Clinton's replacement as secretary of state in a second Clinton term. The Barack Obama of 2008-2010 certainly would have given him serious consideration; maybe the president now knows that there's nothing to be gained from that sort of outreach to the GOP, but I'm not sure.
Then again, could Lugar even be approved by the Senate we'll have next year? Can anyone? If Obama wins, will all the first-term appointees who want to leave after four years simply have to stay on? And on Election Day 2016, will we have a Supreme Court that has only eight or seven or six justices?
That's more or less the warning Jonathan Chait is trying to send us:
The most important and alarming facet of Lugar's defeat, and a factor whose importance is being overlooked at the moment, is one of the reasons Mourdock cited against him: Lugar voted to confirm two of Obama's Supreme Court nominees....
The social norm against blocking qualified, mainstream Supreme Court nominees is one of the few remaining weapons the Republican Party has left lying on the ground. But if Republican Senators attribute Lugar's defeat even in part to those votes for Kagan and Sotomayor, which seems to be the case, what incentive do they have to vote for another Obama nominee? And then what will happen if he gets another vacancy to fill -- will Republican Senators allow him to seat any recognizably Democratic jurist? Especially as the Supreme Court interjects itself more forcefully into partisan disputes like health care, will it become commonplace for the Court to have several vacancies due to gridlock, for the whole legitimacy of the institution to collapse?
I think the crisis could extend to the entire Cabinet. What happens if Eric Holder decides to resign? What happens if there are resignations at Cabinet departments Republicans want to eliminate?
I think a lot of earth is going to be scorched starting in 2013.
Oh, and after this, does anyone still think Mitt Romney will dare to pivot to the center for the general election? Does anyone still think he'll run the risk that the crazy base will stay home or vote third party, especially teabagger third party?