From an editorial Friday in the (Raleigh) News & Observer:
The Senate confirmed the first African-American woman attorney general Thursday afternoon, but the vote was significant for reasons beyond the nominee’s race and gender.
For the 56-43 vote also confirmed the folly and cynicism of the Republican opposition that caused Loretta Lynch to wait longer for Senate approval than the seven previous attorney general nominees combined. Republicans who control the Senate said the delay was caused by matters of principle. First, they held her nomination hostage to approval of abortion restrictions in a human trafficking bill. But when a compromise was reached, 34 Republican senators still voted to filibuster her nomination.
The delay was not about principles. It was about dysfunction. Republican senators are captive to their right wing and the tea party. Even after winning control of the Senate in 2014, they cannot lead or get beyond gridlock. The delay came despite agreement on Lynch’s qualifications.
The opposition to Lynch was about right-wing opposition to President Obama and his executive orders granting temporary protection from deportation to undocumented immigrants. During her confirmation hearings, Lynch did not support Republican claims that Obama’s orders exceeded his authority.
In a time when the nation is wrestling with charges that police often abuse the rights of blacks, an African-American waiting to become the nation’s top law enforcement officer was treated as a pawn and opposed at a record level, including the no votes of the senators from her native state. In this confirmation vote, Republicans showed a contempt for the process that ultimately became disrespect for an eminently qualified nominee.