In a moment of exacerbated and impatient hyperbole most of us have probably said that we’ll die before an anticipated event happens. ‘I’ll just die if I don’t go to the prom… I’ll just die if I don’t get that promotion… I’ll just die if he doesn’t call me for a second date…"

In a moment of exacerbated and impatient hyperbole most of us have probably said that we’ll die before an anticipated event happens. ‘I’ll just die if I don’t go to the prom… I’ll just die if I don’t get that promotion… I’ll just die if he doesn’t call me for a second date…"


It’s easy enough to exaggerate such things. Most of us don’t die when things take a wrong turn. We just get disappointed. Unfortunately for Cassandra Butts, the ill-fated nominee to the position of U. S. ambassador to the Bahamas, that’s exactly what happened. She died before the ideologues in the U.S. saw fit to give her a proper vote.


As Frank Bruni writes for the New York Times, "The Senate held a hearing about her nomination in May 2014, and then … nothing. Summer came and went… A new year arrived. Then another new year after that. When I met her last month, she’d been waiting more than 820 days to be confirmed. She died suddenly two weeks later, still waiting. She was 50 years old."


As Bruni correctly reports, Butts, a nominee with impeccable qualifications, never saw her dream realized because people like our own Sen. Tom Cotton thought she made a better political pawn than ambassador.


Cotton inasmuch admits that blocking Butts was little more than a spite move, designed to punish President Barack Obama. According to Bruni’s report, Butts met with Cotton, whereupon the senator explained that he knew Butts and Obama were old college friends.


We should expect better from our senators — a lot better — but as Cotton has repeatedly demonstrated, he’s just not capable of it.


To be certain, he’s not alone. This isn’t just a childish Republican tactic. It’s a pretty universal tactic from both sides of the aisle.


For the good of the country, it needs to stop. To do otherwise is to condone dysfunction and to hobble the business of government.


Obama’s current nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland, is another fine case in point. Invoking fictitious constructions like "the Biden Rule" Senate Republicans posture and thwart, making reference to imaginary ethical standards and propriety. All the while, important constitutional cases are imperiled by deadlock.


That reality finds no purchase in today’s cynical flag waving myopia. There is no precedent. History does not order this. Only the hubris of demagogues makes it so.


Consider these facts, with respect to Garland’s situation. At the time of initial nomination, the Senate had almost a full year to consider and confirm the president’s choice. In the past, they never needed more than a couple of months.


Since 1975, the average time from presidential nomination to senatorial confirmation is just 67 days. The longest time before confirmation in the last 30 years was 99 days, for Justice Clarence Thomas. Moreover, the last four Justices — across two very different presidential administrations — were confirmed in an average of only 75 days.


As above the Democrats have done similar things, but never to the high art that Republicans have embraced. This tactic is no badge of honor. It is quite the opposite. It is schoolyard pedantry. It is the equivalent of holding one’s breath until they get their way. Unfortunately, in the present manifestation it’s not the Republicans holding their own breath. It’s Republicans choking the breath out of a civilized democracy.