It is almost one year until the next president of the United States will be inaugurated.
Try holding your breath. That's right. Let's make sure absolutely nothing happens for a year.
Because U.S. presidents are only elected for three years, right? The fourth year they, and we, just better hope nothing important happens.
This year, something important happened: An enormously influential Supreme Court justice died unexpectedly. The balance in the Court between Democratic and Republican appointees tips on this one. If you're one of those nerds like me who cares about the topics that the Supreme Court decides, as well as the rule of law, it matters quite a bit who will sit in that chair for the next 30 years or so.
Let's keep it empty. Let's not even try to behave like grown-ups and come together to find a nominee who will encourage the Court to rule decisively on important issues. If Loretta Lynch was good enough to be elected attorney general, why won't Republican senators give any of Obama's Court justice nominees the courtesy of a consideration — much less a vote.
When I worked on the Senate, you met with everyone, as a courtesy. Period.
Not for Sen. Mitch McConnell.
I know that conservatives don't want another Obama appointee on the Court. But guess what? He won the election.
Let me tell you a story: A long time ago, a friend of mine, Stephen Breyer — who was also my boss at the time — was the chief counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was then nominated by Jimmy Carter to be the Supreme Court post on the First Circuit Court of Appeals. He was very well-qualified, a former Harvard Law professor and a man of character and integrity (to which we would today say, so what?).
But the problem was, Carter wasn't just a lame duck — he was a dead duck. He lost the election that November. Then it got worse: The Democrats lost the Senate. We were packing boxes at the Senate Judiciary Committee. We were all dead ducks. Ronald Reagan had secured the White House, and Breyer's nomination hung in the balance.
And then a miracle happened. I know this sounds improbable, and maybe even downright hypocritical, but I'm going to tell you a nice story about then-Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C. Now, Thurmond was about as far away as possible, on every issue, from the then-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ted Kennedy, and Breyer. Even so, Thurmond recognized that Breyer had played fair and square with conservatives during Reagan's tumultuous primary and general elections. In a gesture of good will (the likes of which I haven't seen since), Thurmond let Breyer be confirmed to serve on the Court of Appeals. Today, Breyer serves as a Supreme Court justice and is respected by colleagues on both sides.
Isn't that a nice story? A story of putting personal integrity above partisan loyalty; of putting the needs of your country before your party's winnings; of believing in something more than red versus blue.
With regard to our present situation: Is there no one we can all agree on? Or even the majority of us? Are we really so hopelessly divided? Or is it, as I suspect, that we are woefully poorly represented?
To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.