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Thune Not Just Lazy But “Incoherent”, Practicing Situational Ethics on SCOTUS Nominee

Even George Will can’t defend John Thune’s refusal to consider the sitting President’s Supreme Court nominee:

The Republican Party’s incoherent response to the Supreme Court vacancy is a partisan reflex in search of a justifying principle. The multiplicity of Republican rationalizations for their refusal to even consider Merrick B. Garland radiates insincerity.

…In their tossed salad of situational ethics, the Republicans’ most contradictory and least conservative self-justification is: The court’s supposedly fragile legitimacy is endangered unless the electorate speaks before a vacancy is filled. The preposterous premise is that the court will be “politicized” unless vacancies are left vacant until a political campaign registers public opinion about, say, “Chevron deference” [George Will, “Do Republicans Really Think Donald Trump Will Make a Good Supreme Court Choice?” Washington Post, 2016.03.18].

Of all of Will’s well-chosen words, “situational ethics” strikes me as the most significant phrase describing the strangeness of contemporary Republican politics. I used to be a George Will Republican because I thought Democrats and liberals were the purveyors of value relativism. But Will hits his Republicans on the head for their own lack of adherence to coherent principles.

We see situational ethics from South Dakota’s Republicans all the time:

  1. Our Republican legislators passed the Daschle Rule in 2002 to prevent Democratic U.S. Senator Tom Daschle from running for President and keeping his hat in the Senate ring. The Republicans repealed that rule last year in case Republican U.S. Senator John Thune decided to run for President.
  2. After resisting every proposal Democrats have offered for a more progressive tax system in South Dakota, Republicans who voted against this year’s sales tax for teacher pay based their opposition on complaints that sales tax is regressive.
  3. Republicans say they want government not to interfere with private schools, private business, and private philanthropy, yet they vote for Senate Bill 159, which unconstitutionally funnels tax dollars to private South Dakota religious schools in the form of corporate welfare to insurance companies as a reward for their supposedly selfless charitable giving.

George Will and I agree: Thune and his Republicans are relativists, saying whatever suits their desire to cling to power. You may not like what we Democrats believe, but at least we believe in something… and you can trust that we’ll still believe those things tomorrow.


  1. MOSES 2016-03-21 09:21

    Lazy hmmmmmmmmmm well lets see photo ops, and basketball games not lazy there.

  2. mike from iowa 2016-03-21 10:05

    Dog, it has gotta hurt if Will is ragging on wingnuts.

  3. O 2016-03-21 10:35

    The difference is between “reasons” and “excuses” for (in)action. Does the conclusion follow the evidence or is the evidence selected to justify the pre-determined conclusion? It all begs the question of what the TRUE reasoning is behind action: what is the goal/justification/ideology truly at the base of the actions?

    So, if the verbalized motives/reasons/justifications/ideology are not the true drivers, what IS? Why are those TRUE motives verbalized? Pointing out hypocrisy is interesting; revealing the true drivers will be enlightening.

  4. Curt Jopling 2016-03-21 12:00

    Only a party that has gerrymandered control of the House can get away with this. They must be banking on Citizen United and Voter Suppression, both made legal by the very court they want to control, to insure that the Senate stays in Republican hands. Too bad the so called lame-stream media is asleep at the wheel.

    Having said that, voter turnout by Democrats is nothing to cheer about either. And to say Democrats believe in something today, tomorrow, and the next day is a stretch in my opinion.

  5. Don Coyote 2016-03-21 12:18

    Meh, George Will. Zzzzzzz. The talking head who is mostly wrong about everything never fails to disappoint. Will endorsed Howard Baker over Reagan ’80 and then Bush 41 over Reagan again in ’80. Will predicted Tim Pawlenty would be the GOP nominee in 2012 and then predicted a Romney landslide. Then Will went completely into the weeds by claiming NIFIB V Seleblius (Obamacare) was a great victory for conservatives.

  6. Jana 2016-03-21 14:01

    Senator Thune, check out what John Roberts had to say.

    Sen Thune, we elected you to do your job, and as a leader of the Senate, “The Most Deliberative Body in the World,” and the best you got is a 3rd grader playground argument over who did it first!! For crying out loud. Grow up!

  7. Sam@ 2016-03-21 16:18

    Thune has Always been lazy. Why would he change now. Supreme Court. Justices never turn out like you think they will. The republicans thought conservative Justice Roberts would end Obama Care. Thank god he saved it. It is helping thousands who could otherwise not afford health care.

    It is time to get the high court back to the full staff of 9

  8. MOSES 2016-03-21 17:50

    Watch video of Thune I can do more for South Dakota.What a wind bag have him get here before the storm as his hot air will melt the snow.

  9. John Kennedy Claussen 2016-03-21 21:18

    Republican Party relativism is merely a continual “song and dance” act designed to protect and perpetuate the interests of the wealth class in this state and nation.

    Ironically, Karl Marx’s claim that “the ends justify the means” is the only way one could possibly explain the Republican Party’s continue self-serving relativism. That is why I call the GOP the “Quantum Physics Party” in some feudal bipartisan attempt to understand them. The GOP’s duality can only be explained justifiably when one tries to grasp an understanding of quantum physics itself. Although, the best theorists within the quantum physics arena admit that “we really do not understand quantum physics to begin with….” Was it not Einstein who call quantum physics a “spooky action at a distance?” Except in the case of the Grand Old Party, the actions are much closer, confusing, and damaging to us all.

  10. Darrell Reifenrath 2016-03-21 21:26

    Apparently senility is even more common in Iowa than I suspected. First Grassley and now he has help from Governor Branstad.

  11. scott 2016-03-21 21:42

    Politicians in Washington should think about how others around the world look at this issue of not filling the justice position.

    How can the US be considered a superpower if it takes over a year to fill this justice position?

    How can the US spread democracy if our government is dysfunctional?

    How can the US be respected as a world power if our leaders in Washington are constantly in a deadlock?

    It is time for a change. John Thune is always talking about how others are the problem. John Thune has become the problem! Mr. Thune needs to step up and work for the people he represents. The republican party did not elect Thune, the people did and the people want action, not finger pointing.

  12. Barry G. Wick 2016-03-21 21:42

    Let’s understand one thing…if one party rule, something the Republicans screamed about the Democrats in Washington following the House banking fiasco when House members did all kinds of borrowing and creative financing through the House bank….well, South Dakota has been ruled by Republicans for so long that they’ve now become the party of stagnation. Having you seen what’s happened in Wisconsin, Kansas, Louisiana, and Michigan??? Republican destruction of their states’ economies. The Republicans have been in control of South Dakota so long there is no economy except for a very few. Lowest teacher wages in the nation…and a host of other ills.

  13. Darin Larson 2016-03-21 21:50

    JKC, doesn’t quantum theory posit an infinite number of realities? Therefore, you can take small comfort that in one of them the Republican party is smart enough to confirm Judge Garland to the Supreme Court, Donald Trump is not a complete raving loon, and John Thune is not just a finger puppet.

  14. John Kennedy Claussen 2016-03-21 22:46

    Darin, good point, with the help of string theory perhaps there is a rational instead of a relative GOP in some other parallel universe. I just knew quantum physics would somehow come to the rescue of our Republican friends…..;-)

  15. leslie 2016-03-21 23:22


    Politicians in Pierre should think about how tourists, college students carrying heavy debt loads, and others around the world look at this issue of not establishing transparency, accountability and repayment of fraudulent funds under EB5&MCEC failures in the role of Regents, GOED, Banking Commission, and two governors and their administrations.

    How can Pierre be considered a state capitol if it takes over 5 years, if ever, to bring justice to the victims?

  16. Don Coyote 2016-03-21 23:55

    @Darin: ” … doesn’t quantum theory posit an infinite number of realities?”

    Not in the commonly taught Copenhagen Interpretation.

  17. John Kennedy Claussen 2016-03-22 00:57

    Don, I must ask. Are you in Trump’s universe, yet?….;-)

  18. mike from iowa 2016-03-22 07:17

    Marlboro Barbie Thune’s first step up should be to step down and allow someone that actually wants to work to have his job. You know how welfare deadbeats just want to collect their monthly gubmint checks for doing nothing. Thune is your poster boy. He likes to get his mugshot in the public. He’d be perfect for this role.

    If you ever get annoyed look at me I’m gubmint employed. I love to work at nothing all day. Not taking care of business.

  19. Don Coyote 2016-03-22 13:43

    @JKC: Nope.

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-03-22 21:23

    Well, that’s a relief. Planning to defect to Gary Johnson, Don?

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