Note to President Obama: GOP does not want to be your friend!

In vain attempt to curry favor with Republicans, president stands by right-wing nominee. A sad pattern has emerged

Published September 22, 2014 7:35PM (EDT)

                          (AP/J. Scott Applewhite/Salon)
(AP/J. Scott Applewhite/Salon)

Progressives disappointed with President Obama got one more reason for their discontent today, when it was reported that the president has no plans to withdraw the federal judicial nomination of a conservative Georgian whose votes against LGBT equality and reproductive rights, and for Confederate insignia on the state flag have generated widespread opposition among progressive activists and congressional Democrats.

On Monday morning, the New York Times’ Carl Hulse reported that according to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Michael P. Boggs “doesn’t have the votes” for his nomination to the U.S. District Court of Georgia to move from the committee to the full Senate. It isn’t exactly a surprising turn of events, given that Boggs’ votes as a Georgia state legislator put him squarely at odds with key segments of the Democratic base.

While Boggs cryptically said in his Senate confirmation hearing that his views on marriage equality “may or may not” have changed over time, his 2000 campaign for the state House was notably virulent in its opposition to LGBT rights. A campaign flier distributed by Boggs’ campaign touted his opposition to both same-sex marriage and “homosexual Boy Scout Leaders,” casting the candidate as a “conservative Democrat with conservative values.”

Meanwhile, Boggs’ steadfast opposition to reproductive freedom and his support for keeping Confederate insignia on the Georgia state flag triggered vociferous opposition to his nomination from pro-choice groups like NARAL and civil rights heroes like Rev. Joseph Lowery and Rep. John Lewis, who hails from Boggs’ home state.

Even as opposition to Boggs’ nomination mounted, the Obama administration refused to back down in its support for Boggs. The White House’s rationale? Boggs had the backing of Georgia’s conservative Republican senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, and the administration couldn’t move forward with other judicial nominees if it abandoned Boggs.

But Leahy’s intimation Monday that Boggs lacked sufficient support on the Judiciary Committee seemed to mark a turning point.

And yet:

President Barack Obama still supports the nomination of Michael P. Boggs for a federal judgeship in Georgia, even though Sen. Patrick J. Leahy told the New York Times there weren’t enough votes for confirmation.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at Monday’s briefing that the president still supports Boggs and said the president was not considering withdrawing the pick despite the New York Times report quoting Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a Vermont Democrat.

It’s difficult to make sense of why the White House refuses to concede to reality on Boggs’ nomination — difficult, that is, if you haven’t been paying attention to Obama’s modus operandi these last five and a half years. If there’s anything that explains progressive discontent with the president, it’s his serial willingness to spurn his own base in the vain attempt to ingratiate himself to an implacable GOP by making concession after concession. There was Obama’s abandonment of a public option in a fruitless attempt to win Republican votes for healthcare reform. There was the administration’s pathetic surrender to the politics of austerity and deficit hysteria. There was, most recently, the cowardly decision to put off any executive action on immigration reform until after November’s elections. The latest indignity: The White House is vowing to stick with a judicial nominee whose worldview is antithetical to that of the president’s core supporters.

By Luke Brinker

MORE FROM Luke Brinker