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Somebody got to Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. As recently as Wednesday, Murkowski went on the record, saying “I do believe that [Obama’s Supreme Court Justice] nominee should get a hearing.” She was noncommittal about whether the nominee should actually get a vote, but seemed to take it as a given that Obama would nominate someone, and she was crystal clear that that person should get the courtesy of a hearing.

Now she’s backtracked from that position and is urging the president to follow a non-existing precedent and simply leave the nominating to the next president.

I feel the need to offer a little context here. Murkowski was appointed to serve out her father’s Senate term when he died in office was elected governor in 2002. In 2004, she was elected to a full six-year term. In 2010, however, Sarah Palin came out against her and she lost a hotly contested primary to a Tea Bagger named Joe Miller. After trying and failing to get on the Libertarian Party ballot line, she launched a write-in campaign. Amazingly, Joe Miller was so extreme that she actually became the first candidate since Strom Thurmond in 1954 to be elected as a write-in candidate. At the time, the Associated Press remarked:

Murkowski will return to Washington owing nothing to tea party activists, who largely opposed her, or to the Republican Party, which supported Miller after the primary. Though she plans to caucus with Republicans, she said she won’t be beholden to any special interests or party – an initial sign that she may not try to reclaim her leadership post within the GOP conference. She voluntarily resigned it in deciding to make her outsider run.

With this context in mind, if there is anyone in the Republican Senate Caucus who might be inclined to buck the lunatics and insist that the president has the right to nominate someone and the nominee is owed the courtesy of a vote, it’s Lisa Murkowski. She’s already demonstrated that she can survive in Alaska even if beaten by a primary challenger. The Republican Party wasn’t loyal to her. The GOP actively tried to defeat her. Her support back home came from Native Americans, teachers, firefighters and plenty of ordinary Democrats who preferred her to Joe Miller and Sarah Palin.

But, someone got to her anyway.

This is pretty depressing, but totally consistent with what I predicted.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at