At a Tuesday afternoon press conference, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to submitting a Supreme Court nominee to the Senate despite the vows of Republicans to block anyone he chose. That is his right as well as his duty under the Constitution. He also had a point when he noted sardonically that some of his political foes who claim to be originalists and textualists — in the tradition of recently deceased Justice Antonin Scalia — are inventing a rule that was unknown to the Founders when they say that a president ought not to be permitted to put a like-minded jurist on the Supreme Court in his last year in office. But if such a rule or a reluctance to vote for a justice on their qualifications rather than ideology is a modern invention, the current members of the Senate aren’t the first to try to act in this manner.

The problem with the high-minded rhetoric employed by the president during the course of his remarks about the battle over the court is that they would go down a lot better if he hadn’t been a member of the Senate before being elected president. Though the president went on at length about how unfair and even contrary to the Constitution it would be if his choice were filibustered, he had little to say when confronted with the fact that, when President George W. Bush nominated Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, Senator Barack Obama took a similar stand to that of the GOP about the person he will nominate.

During that debate, Senator Obama did not focus his scrutiny of Alito on the judge’s legal standing or his abilities. Alito had an exemplary resume as well as the respect of all who knew him. But he was a conservative, and that was enough for the Illinois freshman to damn him as unworthy of the court. Indeed, Obama used rhetoric that gave the lie to his famous 2004 Democratic convention speech condemning the division of the country into red and blue states, as well as his jeremiad delivered last week about civility and bipartisanship. Indeed, Obama didn’t just say that he didn’t want another conservative on the court but that he thought Alito’s positions were “contrary to core American values.” That’s pretty rough language, and I daresay if Republicans say anything like that about his nominee, Democrats will cry foul.

But worse than that, Senator Obama did not agree with President Obama about the necessity of an up or down vote for nominees. The senator and would-be president vote along with other Democrats to filibuster Alito, something that he now says would be wrong to do to his choice.

When called on it at the presser, Obama tried to slip and slide his way out of it but then admitted that both parties are to blame for the hyper-partisan tone of our politics. But he then explained his filibuster vote as being a cynical exercise since he knew that there weren’t enough votes for killing the nomination without a vote.

Obama isn’t alone in his hypocrisy, one of the Senate Democrats’ leaders Chuck Schumer said in July 2007 (with a year and a half left in George W. Bush’s second term) that Democrats would not vote to confirm any more of his nominees to the Supreme Court. But today Schumer is saying such tactics when practiced by Republicans are reprehensible and even denying that he meant what he said when he said it in 2007 (thus highlighting the Democrats opposition to textualism, since liberals don’t believe the plain meaning of words matters when interpreting the law).

But it takes a special kind of hypocrite to use the bully pulpit of the presidency to excoriate Republicans for not wanting to let a conservative icon like Antonin Scalia to be replaced by an Obama-style liberal and to do so on the basis of fair play. Senator Obama didn’t believe in fair play for conservatives even in, as was the case with Alito’s nomination, they might be replacing another conservative (which in that case was Justice Sandra Day O’Connor) rather than changing the ideological balance of the court as an Obama pick would do. Nor was Obama shy about letting us know that he expected to nominate yet another hard line liberal to the court like his two previous choices Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Once upon a time, Supreme Court nominees were evaluated by the Senate on the basis of the sort of criteria that the president spoke about in his presser. The only reasons judges used to be rejected were ethical lapses (Lyndon Johnson nominee Abe Fortas) or if they were plainly unqualified or holders of racist views (Rich Nixon nominee G. Harold Carswell). But as I noted earlier this week, the boat sailed on that standard in 1987 when the Democrats invented a verb in the course of demonizing the highly qualified Robert Bork because he was too conservative for their tastes. It might be nice to be able to return to the pre-Bork days but in a time of increased partisan and ideological division, that is one genie that can’t be stuffed back into the bottle.

But it certainly cannot be done by a president who thinks it was okay to filibuster a qualified conservative because he was appointed by Bush but believes it is wrong to do the same thing to any liberal that he taps for the high court. Like all too many elected officials, the president seems to think his own self-proclaimed noble motives enables him to play by different rules than his political opponents.

Let’s go so far as to agree with him that any presidential nominee deserves the courtesy of a hearing. But his claim that denying his nominee a vote is contrary to the spirit of the constitution or democracy is hypocrisy on an Olympic level. Especially when it comes from a man who not only filibustered other nominees but also connived at a filibuster that ensured that there would be no vote on the Iran nuclear deal. Last September when that successful filibuster killed the attempt to vote the pact down, President Obama had no interest in respecting the Constitution. Such treaties are supposed to require two-thirds approval in the Senate but, as Secretary of State Kerry explained, meeting that barrier was too difficult, so they decided to ignore the Constitution.

We know that most politicians believe in situational ethics rather than absolute standards of behavior as long as their own conduct is being judged. But if the president really wants to know why Americans are so cynical about politics, he need only look in the mirror. The sad truth about a president who promised hope and change but delivered cynical partisanship is he has given us the last full measure of hypocrisy when it comes to filibusters.

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