Did Orrin Hatch really hear Hillary Clinton’s name get floated as a potential Supreme Court nominee? The New York Daily News reports that the Senator from Utah briefly discussed the idea on Meet the Press yesterday, without noting whether he’d support Hillary’s nomination if Barack Obama offered it:
Sen. Orrin Hatch says he’s heard Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s name mentioned in connection with the Supreme Court vacancy brought about by the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens.
Hatch didn’t elaborate in an interview Monday. Appearing with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy on NBC’s “Today” show, the Utah Republican said only, “I heard Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s name today and that would be an interesting person in the mix.”
Jammie Wearing Fool notes that the idea isn’t so unreasonable:
Let’s face it. She’d breeze through confirmation hearings since she’s a known commodity. It would also spare Obama any further political damage rather than going the far left route that’s sure to rifle feathers in an already heated atmosphere.
Unless he’s really itching for a fight, it would be a safe pick. Whether her legal acumen is up to snuff we’ll let the lawyers out there decide that.
A Hillary nomination actually solves a few problems for Obama. The Senate usually likes to confirm current and former members of the club, which would take a lot of the sting out of the confirmation process. While Republicans in the upper chamber probably won’t vote for Hillary, they also would be very unlikely to filibuster her nomination. Her relative lack of a top-line legal career will get trumped by her political career, so even the “legal acumen” argument can be bypassed.
Politically, Obama gets a win by puting another woman on the court. Unlike with at least one of the apparent short-listers (Elana Kagan), no one will doubt Hillary’s liberal bona fides. But best of all, Obama would be dispatching the one Democrat who could conceivably win a primary race against him in 2012 if his numbers continue to fall. Once on the Supreme Court, Hillary would not step down to run for President, and Bill Clinton would be effectively neutralized as well.
There are only two flies in the ointment. First, Hillary is a little old for SCOTUS picks. At 63, she might only get 20 years tops on the court, where a younger pick could have twice that amount, extending the Obama legacy further. The bigger problem would be nominating a new Secretary of State. Hillary has been a disaster from the start, with her “reset” button fiasco, and American diplomacy has been botched around the world. A confirmation hearing for State in this circumstance would give Republicans a platform to lay out the administration’s disastrous record in excruciating detail.
Would that be worth it to keep Obama from facing a primary challenge? With any other President, I’d guess no. With Obama, the personal is the ultimate in political calculation, so I wouldn’t rule it out.