Perhaps Obama has some room to complain on that score, but it's also true that there are some entirely nonpartisan reasons for his lower confirmation rate of district judges. First, Obama was far slower than Bush in choosing nominees and lost a lot of momentum he might have had early in his term. Second, Obama had two Supreme Court nominations in his first term, while Bush had none. Those tend to tie up the Senate Judiciary Committee for months at a time, slowing the other nominations.
But of course, it's true that Senate Republicans are sometimes acting out of partisanship in delaying Obama's nominations. And in his Rose Garden speech, the president conceded that his party has been guilty of that, too. "I recognize that neither party has a perfect track record here," Obama said. "Democrats weren't completely blameless when I was in the Senate."
But it's not just Democrats. It's Barack Obama himself. In the four years he served in the Senate, Obama was an enthusiastic obstructer of Bush's judicial nominations.
According to Senate Judiciary Committee records, there were a total of 122 confirmations during Obama's time in the Senate. Sixty of them were approved by voice vote or unanimous consent. That left 62 roll call votes for confirmation. Sen. Obama missed 13 of them -- busy running for president. But of the 49 confirmation votes he participated in, he cast a "no" vote in eight: two Supreme Court nominations and six circuit court nominations.
In addition, Obama voted to filibuster one of the Supreme Court nominations, for Samuel Alito, and also tried to derail circuit court nominees William Pryor, Leslie Southwick and Janice Rogers Brown. And he certainly didn't spend his time exhorting colleagues to confirm Bush nominees more quickly.
So now that he's president, no matter what he says, Obama hasn't had it any worse than his Republican predecessor. Indeed, when one takes away all the umbrage and unsubstantiated statistics, Obama's Rose Garden message to Senate Republicans was very simple: Don't do unto me as I did unto you.
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