On Monday evening, Stephen Colbert honored the late supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday evening from complications of cancer at 87. Ginsburg “led a pioneering life” as a lawyer, a judge, and an advocate for gender equality and “was known for her tenacity,” said the Late Show host, as only the second woman ever appointed to the supreme court.
But national mourning over Ginsburg’s death was quickly overshadowed by political maneuvering, as the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who in 2016 opposed confirming Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the supreme court during an election year, released a statement just hours after Ginsburg’s death: “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
“He couldn’t even wait until the morning,” lamented Colbert. “That’s like a husband rushing to the scene of the accident and going, ‘No, not my wife! Hey, is that EMT single, because I am.’”
“Apparently, since 2016 McConnell has had a change of heart, or whatever squirming bag of scorpions occupies that dark cavity,” Colbert continued. McConnell’s opposition to Garland, citing an upcoming presidential election, occurred nine months before voting. “This time, the election has literally already started – voting has begun in as many as 20 states,” said Colbert. “So for McConnell, ‘not in an election year’ — nuh uh. But in an election? That’s fine.”
McConnell wasn’t the only “flagrant hypocrite”, Colbert added, pointing to comments from the South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham in 2016, when he defended McConnell’s refusal to even grant a hearing for Garland: “I want you to use my words against me,” Graham said. “If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say ‘Lindsey Graham says let the next president, whoever it might be, make the nomination, and you can use my words against me.’”
“I’d love to use your words against you, Lindsey,” Colbert retorted, “but they’re clearly empty.”
Colbert played clips of five current Republican senators who have indicated they’ll back Trump’s nominee, four years after justifying McConnell’s stoppage as just in an election year. But it’s doesn’t matter, Colbert concluded – “ultimately, Republican senators have no honor, so they don’t care if we call them hypocrites.”
Ginsburg was “an intellectual titan, a tireless advocate of equality, a relentless advocate of democracy, a towering figure in the history of American jurisprudence and civil rights,” said Seth Meyers on Late Night. And yet, merely hours after her death Friday evening, Senate Republicans, “who represent 15 million fewer American than Senate Democrats, are pulling out all the stops to help a sundowning fascist who lost the popular vote by 3 million fill a supreme court seat vacated by a feminist icon six weeks before an election,” Meyers fumed.
“I get that highlighting their hypocrisy is mostly pointless – hypocrisy only matters if you have shame,” he added. “They don’t. Mitch McConnell certainly isn’t capable of feeling shame. He looks like a haunted wooden doll you find an estate sale, and has the same level of emotional complexity.”
Meyers called Republicans’ justifications for refusing Obama’s nomination of Garland in 2016 and their reversals now both “bullshit”, but added that “it’s worth taking stock of just how insulting and transparent their lies were, and remembering that for the future. Because it’s not just hypocrisy – it’s nihilism. They’re moral black holes who only care about the raw exercise of political power.”
How and when should the Senate vote on a replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg? The latest on the political war over her SCOTUS seat: pic.twitter.com/jipfeuvmAv— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) September 22, 2020
And on the Daily Show, Trevor Noah also lambasted Republicans’ hypocrisy over the confirmation of a new supreme court justice just over a month before a national election, four years after they decried doing so with nine months to spare in Obama’s final year. “I don’t think anyone is surprised that Senate Republicans said one thing when Obama was president, and another thing when it’s Trump,” Noah said. “You can’t even call them inconsistent.
“Doing whatever it takes to get his way is the one consistent principle that Mitch McConnell lives by. It’s that and eating baby birds right out of the nest,” he joked.
Still, “it has been pretty incredible to watch these senators abandon their past promises”, Noah continued. Republican senators “seem to be fine with blatant hypocrisy” since a solid conservative majority on the supreme court “could kill Obamacare, could undo abortion rights and basically strike down any liberal policies for decades to come.
“Even after Trump leaves, his legacy will be in the country for decades,” Noah concluded. “It’s like if someone came into your house just to say hey, but they had stepped in dog shit just before entering. Now it’s deep in the carpet and legally doesn’t have to leave until it wants to.”