During 60 Minutes' hagiography last Sunday, the soon-to-be-unlamented Barack Obama was asked what most surprised him during his presidency and he replied "partisanship", and cited the refusal of the Senate to schedule a hearing on his Supreme Court nominee:
"The fact that Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republicans, was able to just stop a nomination almost a year before the next election and really not pay a political price for it, that’s a sign that the incentives for politicians in this town to be so sharply partisan have gotten so outta hand that we’re weakening ourselves," Obama said.
Possibly so, but perhaps he should have checked with the new Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, who proposed exactly that tactic to block Bush nominees to the same court, when the Republican still had 17 months to serve as President.
“We should reverse the presumption of confirmation,” Schumer said, according to Politico. “The Supreme Court is dangerously out of balance. We cannot afford to see Justice Stevens replaced by another Roberts, or Justice Ginsburg by another Alito.” During the same speech, Schumer lamented that he hadn’t managed to block Bush’s prior Supreme Court nominations.
The Republicans, of course, expressed the same outrage that Democrats are shouting now, which proves Obama's point, I suppose, but for anyone to claim that this kind of maneuvering is unprecedented or even the slightest bit shocking is either dishonest - you think? - or a shocking display of innocence; I'm going with the former.