The hypocrisy of Sens. Crapo and Risch

By Chris Carlson

There are two qualities a voter should never tolerate in their elected representatives: hypocrisy and actions that show no respect for the intelligence of their constituents.

Idaho’s two U.S. Senators — Mike Crapo and Jim Risch — possess both qualities in abundance.

Idaho’s two senators joined with their fellow Republican senators in announcing that under no circumstances would they hold a hearing or even meet with any nominee President Barack Obama will submit to take the seat held for many years with distinction by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

They have wrapped this dereliction of duty in flowery language about letting the people decide in the November elections whether a Scalia replacement and several other expected vacancies in a new presidential term will be nominated by another Democrat or by a Republican.

It is a crass form of pure partisanship that has hamstrung Congress from doing much substantive work and has in part engendered the anger that is driving the candidacy of Donald Trump.

Recall, if you will, the pronouncement by then-Minority but now Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the senior senator from Kentucky, who on the first day Barack Obama took office said the primary purpose of Republicans was to see that Obama would be a one-term president. No honeymoon, no olive branch about working together to find the greatest good for the greatest number. No siree. The election of an African-American meant total and open warfare.

Make no mistake, either, that this attitude was and is a thinly disguised form of racism, pure and simple. So forget about the good of the public, forget about compromise and actually doing something to earn their paycheck.

A funny thing happened though on the way to the scaffold Sen. McConnell and his colleagues were constructing for the president: be darned if he didn’t win a second term. Looking today at the field vying to succeed President Obama there’s little doubt he would win a third term except for that pesky thing called a Constitution — an amendment to which limits a president to two consecutive terms.

It appears these Republican senators, many of whom say they are strict constructionists (which means interpret the Constitution as it was meant at the time it was written and none of this making law by reinterpreting it in a modern context), don’t seem to grasp the difference between an active and passive verb.

Article II, Section 2 seems quite clear: “The President shall have Power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate … and he shall nominate and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint … judges of the Supreme Court.”

The Constitution says the president shall nominate justices and the Senate is to confirm or deny under its mandate “to advise and consent.” It doesn’t say “may,” and anyone who says the Senate can put off until a more convenient time politically to take up a nomination is guilty of a creative interpretation of the Senate’s responsibility that has no legal basis.

The Constitution also sets fixed terms for those elected to these offices ,and it is a given that they will do their duties for the full term.

The president will do his duty and will nominate a worthy candidate.

The Senate’s duty is to take up and give due consideration. To sit on a nomination for 10 months is dereliction of duty, pure and simple, and senators advocating this dereliction ought, in this writer’s opinion, to be impeached and removed from office.

Stop and think for just a minute about what Sens. Crapo and Risch are saying. If you follow their so-called logic, a senator like Mike Crapo would stop voting 10 months before his term ends because it is a presidential election year and the voters might chose a Democrat for the Senate seat he holds and might even elect another Democrat as president.

It sounds stupid because it is stupid — just as stupid as the charade they are attempting to pull off.

It is crass hypocrisy, blatant partisanship, an abdication of their responsibilities, a dereliction of their duties and an insult to your intelligence.

If either of our senators had an ounce of courage or any backbone, they’d tell their so-called Leader to take a hike and would say they know what their job calls them to do. Alas, they’ll as usual go along to get along because they know all they need next to their name on the ballot is the R, and they’ll be returned to office regardless. ‘Tis a pity.

A native of Kellogg, journalist Chris Carlson pens his column from his retirement home near Medimont in Northern Idaho. He is a former teacher and was press secretary to Gov. Cecil Andrus.