This article about Mitch McConnel's decision to block any court nominee starts with the most important background to the Rs obstructionism from Day One of Obama's presidency. "Good of the country" be damned. Pitching in to fix what our party's president broke? Not in a million (or eight but hopefully four) years!
In early 2009, as Barack Obama was about to take office, Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican minority in the Senate, assembled his caucus at a retreat in West Virginia. There, he laid out his strategy for taking on the new president, who was sweeping into office on a tide of popularity, historical resonance and great expectations barely diminished by the economic free fall then underway.
The key, Mr. McConnell told his fellow Republicans, was to stymie and undermine Mr. Obama, but to do so in subtle ways. As one of the senators present, Robert F. Bennett of Utah, later recalled to me: “Mitch said, ‘We have a new president with an approval rating in the 70 percent area. We do not take him on frontally. We find issues where we can win, and we begin to take him down, one issue at a time. We create an inventory of losses, so it’s Obama lost on this, Obama lost on that. And we wait for the time where the image has been damaged to the point where we can take him on.’ ” ...
... The resistance from Mr. McConnell has had an enormous influence on the shape of Obama’s presidency. It has limited the president’s accomplishments and denied him the mantle of the postpartisan unifier he sought back in 2008. But it has also brought the Senate, the institution to which Mr. McConnell has devoted his life, close to rupture...
... The best way to understand Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr. has been to recognize that he is not a conservative ideologue, but rather the epitome of the permanent campaign of Washington: What matters most isn’t so much what you do in office, but if you can win again...The article details many examples of McConnell's cynicism; that it's always been about power -- his own and his party's -- and that policy, no matter the impact on the country, was immaterial.
... Mr. McConnell intuited, shrewdly, that if he could bottle things up in Washington with the filibuster and other tactics, the blame for the gridlock would fall mostly to the Democrats — the party in the White House. Not to mention that Mr. Obama had campaigned on the promise of transcending Washington’s divides, which made partisan dysfunction look like a personal failure...It's not unlike the kid who killed his parents and threw himself on of the mercy of the courts, on the grounds that he was an orphan. Block everything they can, allow no bipartisanship whatsoever, then point to Obama as a failure. And it's worked nearly to perfection, helped by the constant propagandizing and dishonest clamor from Fox "news" and the rest of the RWS™.
Was this unprecedented level of cynical destruction simply because the man who's the perfect example of the worst sort of entrenched Washington power became majority leader? Would it have happened with any Democratic president? Or might it have something to do with the skin color of the president, and the fact that his primary Senate opponent hails from Kentucky?