Monday, October 17, 2016


John McCain might have spoken without thinking, but I believe what he said:
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) suggested Monday that the Republican party’s months-long refusal to fill a vacant seat on the Supreme Court could extend into the next administration if Hillary Clinton is elected president.

"I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up," McCain said on WPHT Philadelphia radio in an interview first flagged by CNN. "I promise you. This is where we need the majority.”
McCain subsequently revised his remarks. However, it wasn't much of a revision:
McCain's office walked his remarks back hours later, saying he would vote for individual nominees based on their record and experience.

"Senator McCain believes you can only judge people by their record and Hillary Clinton has a clear record of supporting liberal judicial nominees," communications director Rachael Dean told TPM in a statement. "That being said, Senator McCain will, of course, thoroughly examine the record of any Supreme Court nominee put before the Senate and vote for or against that individual based on their qualifications as he has done throughout his career."
Translation: Sure, Republicans will consider Hillary's nominees, but they're certain to be so left-wing and radical that our only choice will be to reject them.

Even before this year, I never thought a Republican Senate would approve a Supreme Court pick from President Obama -- I'm certain he'd have been stonewalled in 2015 the way he was this year, with a different excuse substituting for "It's an election year" -- and I don't expect things will be any better for Hillary Clinton if the GOP holds the Senate, because Republican will assume she's coming into office unliked and with no mandate. I don't any Republicans to vote for any Clinton Supreme Court pick, ever.

I just hope a Democratic Senate majority will be enough to get her picks approved. I'm sure Democrats will need to abolish the filibuster for the High Court in order to get any pick past the Republicans -- but even then I assume the Republicans will try to humiliate Clinton with a defeat. Remember, a lot of red-state Democratic senators will be up for reelection in 2018, including the two most conservative, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. I assume the Republicans will run a ton of "call your senator" ads in the home states of Manchin and Heitkamp, pointing out that Clinton's appointee -- whoever it is, and whatever that person's record might be -- is shockingly "extreme" on guns or LGBT right or acknowledging that climate change exists (war on fossil fuels!).

It might not work, but the GOP will do it anyway. Obstructionism thrills the Republican base almost as much as a Trump speech, and it makes moderate voters just give up on politics altogether. It's an excellent way for the GOP to get ready for the midterms.

And remember, the Republican base literally believes that the next Democratic Supreme Court justice will abolish Christianity in America and mandate total gun confiscation. If a justice is approved, every incumbent Republican senator is at risk of a primary challenge. So they're not going to go down without a vicious fight.


rclz said...

If Dems manage to get a Senate majority, even a slim one won't that make it easier to get a pick through?

Feud Turgidson said...

It's looking to me increasingly likely that Merrick Garland will get approved during the lame duck session. Congressional Republicans will want the confirmation hearings to drag on thru Trump's coming federal court trial in San Diego on the Trump University claims starting Nov 28, not just in hopes of distracting from that but also the various caves the Congressional GOPers are going to suffer on budget and debt issues.

Thereafter whether President H will be called on to replace Notorious, Breyer and Tony K will come down to how much of a cushion there is in the Senate from Nov. 8. I think 50-50 could be somewhat problematical, but then it largely means Veep Tim being all over the Senate chambers he's just come from like VEEP's Tony Hale is all over the character played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

I think it's likely to be higher, at least 51 including the 2 indies, and possibly as many as 53, plus I can think of at least 2 women senators who technically caucus with McConnell who have more than enough room to vote for a President Pantsuit SC nom, certainly a woman marketable to the general public as a moderate (Legal pracice and the federal court system below the SCOTUS has binders and binders of moderate women: legal practice and the law itself are essentially conservative institutions, with notabe exceptions).

If it's only 51, then can foresee a lot of dancing around by Heitkamp & Manchin as to which one of them gets to register the horse crap dissent, but each is enither doomed or not regardless their votes on the SCOTUS. The bigger problem is how long the 3 oldest puisne memebers of the SCOTUS can hang on; it could be 2020 before they even get another chance, and the pressure on Kennedy in particular to stay on will be enormous.

GrrlGeek1972 said...

I think if the Senate flips to (D), the first thing they do is change the rules to say: "All Federal judges (including SCOTUS) and members of the President's cabinet plus other Executive branch appointees shall require only a simple majority of the Senate to be approved. No filibustering allowed; up or down,yes or no, simple majority."
Yeah, that's the 'nuclear option' on steroids, but Mitch McConnell and the rest of the GOP have spit on Senate traditions and constitutional directives and have made it clear that the only thing that matters is party affiliation, not the good of the country or their constitutional obligations.

AllieG said...

Manchin and Heitkamp aren't real bright, but they surely must know doing that would cost them more than enough Democratic votes to sink them. The history of Blue Dogs under the Obama administration is not a series of electoral successes.

Feud Turgidson said...

I agree with AllieG on all that, but I still say, given the chance to Broder the heck out of every side of a Dem preznit's nom some numbskull back in the Blue or Black Hills might notice, either would leap at it like a hungry bass.

homelessonthehighdesert said...

Under Cheney's theory of a Unitary Executive the President can disband an obstructionist congress and send it home for re-election. With an ideolgically split Supreme Court the only thing the Retards can do is eat crow.

Something to chew on,
Ten Bears

Green Eagle said...

And the issue of Supreme Court Justices is only the tip of the iceberg. If recent history is any indication, the only lesson the Republicans will take from a defeat in November is that they have to be even more belligerent and obstructionist, and this will apply to every single thing Hillary tries to accomplish. Without at least taking the Senate next month, her victory is likely to be a Pyrrhic one indeed.

Feud Turgidson said...

Green Eagle, I just don't think so. It's not just that we can't predict such things, or that such things change as the human dynamics change, but also that in my experience we tend to give to much credit to recency on things like this.

Trump isn't just driving a little wedge between the Trumpster/FreeDumbers/TP/Alt-R parts of the formerly near-uniform GOP Base, it's like he's on a Make Red America The Great Rift Valley "movement". NO GOPer is going to the next Congress thinking there's any fertile solid ground underneath them. And it's not like triangulation is a new concept to Clintonian Washington.

It really will come down to how clever, brave, smart and quick Dem leadership is in exploiting the opportunities. I have total faith in the capacities of Pelosi et al to take as much advantage of this in the House as possible, but the Senate's a whole different context and we really can't know from Schumber's second banana history what he'll be like leading the Dem Senate Caucus.

IMV it's PROBABLY doing to be more volatile than you suggest, and it's GUARANTEED to work differently from what any insider leave aside long range observers like us are able to predict. Not saying that's a good or bad thing, just different.

Unknown said...

Steve, you're actually giving McCain credit he does not deserve. He didn't say Hillary Clinton's nominee would be left-wing or radical. He said her nomineee would be LIBERAL.

Unknown said...

Steve, "Unknown" is me, Kathy Kattenburg. I'm sorry, I didn't realize my name wouldn't be included.

Steve M. said...

To the conservatives he's trying to reach, there's no difference. All "liberals" and considered to be radical leftists. Obama and Clinton = Marx and Lenin.

Hubert Vale said...

Let's not forget the endless investigations and subsequent impeachment hearings that will begin on November 9th. 😔

Jimbo said...

First, I think we need to dispense with the notion of a mandate. No President has had a mandate since Reagan and even that was largely rhetorical rather than policy substantive since the public didn't vote on any manifesto to radically cut taxes on the wealthy and plunge the country into deep debt. Obama's sizable 2008 victory during the greatest political-economic crisis of the previous 60 years should have given him a mandate for Congress but the GOP refused to work with him at all. The GOP will never recognize the Democrats as having any mandate ever and barely any legitimacy as a political party.

Knight of Nothing said...

@Feud T: Lemieux wrote about this last March; in his opinion, Garland will never be confirmed. I agree -- he's toast.

Either Dems flip the senate and HRC gets her nominee confirmed after Dems scuttle the filibuster, or we have an 8-person Supreme Court indefinitely.

Redhand said...

@GrrlGeek1972 You state exactly what needs to be done here. McConnell declared war not just on the Democratic President but on the democratic process itself with his (in my view) unconstitutional stonewalling of Obama's nomination to replace Scalia. The Repubs don't deserve the slightest consideration after this. In fact, I think McConnell should be censured by the Senate for what he's tried to pull.

It would be insanity for Hillary to think she could "work with" this scum (the GOP) after what Obama endured. They need the 2 X 4 treatment to keep them in line.

CH said...

In the event Clinton wins, it'll be amusing to watch Heitkamp and Manchin (both of whom endorsed HRC in the primaries, the latter with a fair amount of anti-Sanders venom) opposing her S Ct nominee(s), while Sanders is supporting same. Of course, it could go the other way around, if HRC effectively lets McConnell vet her nominee(s) (as would not surprise me much).

rclz said...

After McConnell suggested that the NRA had to approve any nominee I don't think HRC can afford to let McConnell have his way.

The thing about Manchin and his ilk is they do have their uses. If the only way we can get a dem elected in those red places is to elect guys like Manchin it's worth it in the long run if it gives us control because committee control means power. It sets agendas, it keeps those idiots from dogging Planned Parenthood and makes it so the CDC can research gun usual I can go on. I know Manchin's vote isn't always there when we need it but all the same he has his uses if it means we get control.

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