Fairly soon, Mitch McConnell is going to be faced with a real-world choice manifesting the contradiction in two statements he has made about defeating Democratic attempts to obstruct President Trump’s appointees.
McConnell has said he’s an opponent of the “nuclear option” and as such does not favor changing Senate rules to prevent the Democrats from filibustering Trump’s Supreme Court choice, Neil Gorsuch. But McConnell has also guaranteed that Trump’s choice will be confirmed by the Senate.
That would seem to presuppose a level of goodwill on the part of the Senate Democrats and their leader Chuck Schumer which isn’t particularly warranted based on the latter’s exploits of late. Schumer is rapidly descending to a Harry Reid level of jackassery — squeezing out fake tears in protest of an immigration reset order that he had voiced basic support for, at least in part, just two years ago, vowing to filibuster Trump’s Supreme Court pick regardless of who it might be while cooking up the narrative that the seat Gorsuch was nominated for was “stolen” because the Senate’s Republican majority didn’t move the nomination of Merrick Garland forward last year, and finally, on Monday and Tuesday, orchestrating a Democrat walkout of the Senate Finance Committee so that DHHS Secretary nominee Tom Price and Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin wouldn’t be voted on.
These are stupid games, and they deserve stupid prizes.
Another way to put this would be to say Trump needs a wartime consigliere in the Senate and McConnell needs to prove himself as one. Having ended the month of January with only three of his Cabinet nominees moving through the Senate (by now Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had 13, and Obama had 10), it’s clear the Democrats want all-out war in the nation’s capital. McConnell comes from a Republican establishment that for a long time earned the moniker “The Stupid Party” for constantly losing political battles to the Democrats’ “Evil Party”; he’s a practitioner of nice-guy politics in comparison to the Reids and Schumers of the world. Since the Tea Party revolution in the 2010 elections gave the GOP the House, McConnell has been protected from the ravages of leftist legislation moving to the Senate from the House, and, since the 2014 midterms made him majority leader, he’s shrugged his shoulders and pointed to Barack Obama as the obstacle to moving a conservative agenda.
But McConnell doesn’t have any further excuses, and all those unconfirmed appointees are a black mark on his escutcheon. It’s time for him to put his boots on and set to stomping out Schumer’s obstruction.
All it takes is a bit of will on McConnell’s part.
The Democrats want to boycott committee hearings where confirmation votes will be taken? Fine. Fire them from those committees. Find a Republican willing to publicly call himself a Democrat for a day or two, place him on those committees, and you’ve satisfied the quorum rules Schumer and his crowd are abusing to deny those votes.
And McConnell doesn’t even need to use the nuclear option to destroy a filibuster of Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, though to do so is more than warranted by Schumer’s irresponsible statements. It might even be more entertaining were he to require, in order to sustain the filibuster, that the Democrats actively hold the Senate floor. He ought to tell Schumer to supply his people with lots of Red Bull, protein bars, and adult diapers, if they planned on filibustering Gorsuch — because they’d be up all night.
Given the advanced age of so much of that caucus’ membership, such a requirement would be a good deal harsher than the nuke. If nothing else, it might be supremely entertaining to watch Pat Leahy and Debbie Stabenow attempt to deliver soliloquys at 4 a.m. or to witness Cory Booker’s attempts to avoid disqualifying himself for the 2020 election in three hours of holding forth about fictional dope dealers who want him dead or other inanities he can spout from memory. Faced with the pressure of sustaining such a show, Schumer might well fold his hand.
What McConnell should not do is attempt to wait Schumer out. It’s clear the Democrats aren’t through with their post-election tantrum, and the volume of their screeching isn’t decreasing regardless of the drumbeat of polls indicating the American people aren’t interested in hearing it. Letting them carry on in hopes they’ll get tired is a mistake — what’s needed is pressure, in doses neither Schumer nor his colleagues, nor his ideological comrades camped outside his Manhattan apartment demanding Moar Obstruction!, can withstand.
It’s war. They wanted it, and they’re prosecuting it despite the ultimate hopelessness of their cause. McConnell has the means of victory in his hands and a responsibility to use it.
Crush the filibuster, Mitch. Do it ruthlessly. Prove to us you can put these people down.