No reward for nominating moderates

NO REWARD FOR NOMINATING MODERATES…. This isn’t a surprising vote, but it tells us quite a bit about what to expect going forward.

Obama nominated David Hamilton to serve on the Seventh Circuit court of appeals back in March, and, thanks to a number of Republican delays, he has only today been reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line 12-7 vote.

If you’re just joining us, in March, Obama nominated Hamilton for the 7th Circuit. Given Hamilton’s record of moderation, the White House said the nomination was intended to send a signal that this process need not be contentious. “We would like to put the history of the confirmation wars behind us,” one aide said.

And what happened? The right-wing base flipped out and one far-right senator, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, soon after announced he will filibuster the nomination. (That Inhofe argued filibusters of Republican judicial nominees are “unconstitutional” apparently doesn’t matter.)

And today, how many Republicans on the Judiciary Committee were willing to support this moderate, chosen specifically to signal the White House’s desire to avoid a bitter process? Zero. Not one.

This is what happens when Obama goes out of his way to avoid a fight.

Given this, I’d just remind the administration that there’s no real reward for nominating moderates. If the president selects obvious centrists, Republicans will label them unacceptable ideologues, and oppose their nomination. If the president selects unwavering liberals, Republicans will label them unacceptable ideologues, and oppose their nomination.

Obama might as well pick the best available people for the federal bench, without regard for the GOP reaction, because it’s likely to be the same, no matter who he chooses.